Even with many miles in between, families still find a way


Photo by John McArthur

Freshman Mahta Poostizadeh’s family agenda always finds time for midnight gelato runs.

From Colorado, Michigan, and Illinois, to Florida, Iran, and Switzerland, each part of the world holds countless families joining to celebrate or catch-up as festivities kick-off, despite the long distances, busy schedules, and crazy lives. Mahta’s family is no exception to this.

“There’s this gelato place we would go to around midnight every night,” said Mahta, who spends many summers in Iran with her grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts. “During the day, it would be deserted. Everybody would come out at night, and we would go [to a park] and eat our ice cream. There would be people singing and playing their guitars, and everybody would be happy. Those are some of the best memories I have from [Iran].”

Only seeing her family on special occasions, these small moments like enjoying midnight gelato are ones she holds dear to her heart. For Mahta, spending time with family means much more than driving a few miles to catch up; instead, these infrequent trips mean crossing a whole ocean.

“I would see people around me on the daily hanging out with their cousins and grandparents,” Mahta said, “but I never had that experience before.”

Surrounded by different cultures in America and Iran, Mahta cherishes the time spent with her family in spite of the obvious distance. While feeling thankful for creating memories in Iran, her optimistic personality aids in her thankfulness.

I feel like having a strong relationship with other members of your family is really good for you.

— Mahta Poostizadeh

“[In Iran], I learned the language better because I would go there every summer, and I learned more about our culture,” said Mahta, whose favorite memories embody mountainside villas and climbing cherry trees, “because I would be among the people for [around] a month and a half.”

Crossing continents is normal for Mahta and her family, but for freshman Cohen Murray to see his family, it’s going to Colorado.

Having family in Denver, Colorado, Cohen relies on his grandma to reunite the family. Big trips are essential in the Murray family; states can’t hinder Cohen’s excitement for annual family events.

“[My family and I] are pretty close,” Cohen said, “but it’s pretty hard because they live so far away. My grandma will usually do a huge trip with all of us and rent a big house, and they’ll come up. We usually get a house on Lake Michigan; this year we actually did Torch Lake.”

Lakeside views accompany this reunited family in the annual event, and the days leading up to the trip are filled with anticipation for Cohen and his family. Having family across the nation, Cohen is no stranger to missing his relatives. With family filling his days with excitement, these gatherings are important memories held within his close ones.

On days empty of this anticipation, sophomore Justin Baehr finds himself missing his past life in Illinois as he doesn’t have the opportunity to see all of his family often.

“[I miss] being with them and having the whole family together,” said Justin, who finds Snapchatting his sister in Illinois a common occurrence. “My sister is always calling or texting my mom ‘I need help with this’ [or] ‘I need help with that’, and we can’t help them with [most problems]. There were also always traditions we would do during the holidays that we can’t do anymore because we are separated.”

Moving states has impacted Justin’s life and even has hindered his ability to help his sibling. While located closer to Michigan than Colorado or Iran, Illinois requires Justin’s family to drive hours on end in efforts to visit his older brother, sister, and niece. 

From these long distances, anticipation for family gatherings can be fun and exciting, and Justin, Cohen, and Mahta all understand the importance of trying to hold their loved ones near over the distances. But junior Naomi Allen has found that spending time with her family in Michigan is also an amazing opportunity, even if distance doesn’t keep them waiting in anticipation to see each other.  

“My brother and I are some of the oldest cousins in my family,” Naomi said. “Most of my cousins are in elementary school or younger. I’m closer with the [family] on my mom’s side since I usually see them more, but I have a set of grandparents that live a couple of hours upstate that I do talk to often. My whole extended family on my dad’s side will usually get together either in Traverse city or a bit more upstate.”

Despite living in the same state, Naomi’s family find it difficult to frequently visit one another due to their separate lifestyles. With busy schedules of their own taking up much of their life, they find joy in departing from life’s stresses and spending quality time with each other.

Whether these families are miles away, states away, or even continents away, their special bonds create fun memories at each reunion. From nightly adventures to trips on Lake Michigan and Illinois, their love for one another pulls them in from across the land. 

And with family, Mahta would take every hour spent in dirty airports and on musty airplanes to spend time with the ones she loves.

“I feel like having a strong relationship with other members of your family is really good for you,” Mahta said. “You know more about them, and you feel closer to them.”