Let’s talk about family, about generations, about passing on the important values and truths. Family is about shared experience, about perpetuating tradition, and hope for the future. Family is the gathering of souls, in a connection forged by behavior and biology. Family is a gathering of souls connected by common interests and the fascination of difference. My experience with family has been the very most fortunate, where love is a strong and enduring bond. We are each others’ historians, mirrors and coaches.
I started out in a family through no action of my own. I was doted on as the precious daughter. Family encouraged my playful spirit, comforted my despondencies, schooled me in knowledge general and esoteric. My experience leads me to believe that the desire to create family is inborn and blessed.
Friendships formed a new kind of family for me; intimate friendships added lifetime family as well as lifetime losses and abandonments. I went to my 10th high school reunion, so long ago, and marveled at how many names I remembered from the past. Friendships of the passing nature whose long faded wisps were neither mourned nor particularly noticed. I still have a pointy, hurty place in my heart for friend once close, gradually distant, then torn away without agreement or even discussion.
You are my density![*] [Back to the Future: George McFly]
As I gained more intimacy in my relationships, I built around myself lasting family. The world right now is mired in controversy over governmental and church recognition of marriages, and peripherally adoptions. Words, labels, even defining activities: these are shadows that shred themselves against the pointy, irregular surface, diamond hard realness of family and love and connection itself.
A family produces its own culture, including a shared language and humor. When a facial expression, body pose, single word, phrase or nonsense sound can conjure smiles, giggles or chortles, that’s family. When all the shared history together rises up in a bubble of joyful reminder of one bit of common experience. And some of the best of times are when we share the back stories and movies and books with new members of our family, surrounding them with the family culture, as well as extending the culture with the new stories to come.
I’m a ficus, I’m a ficus![*] [Quark]
Vr-ooom, vroom vroom vroom.[*] [An old meme that just dared you not to laugh.] Can you really keep a straight face? But, if you don’t have a shared experience in time or tale, you might just.
Shaka, when the walls fell.[*] [Next Gen: “Darmok”] I thought I loved anyone, everyone. Okay, at least anyone who loved me back. I regret so much of my part in my interactions with my in-laws. We lacked the shared culture, and I didn’t understand how to bridge that, how to understand and laugh with them. I didn’t think you'd like it, so I got you two.[*] [Matt’s mom, on giving him a pair of ties, meaning that she hoped he’d like at least one of them.]
Someday perhaps I’ll have the opportunity from the other direction. I might even be old enough now to laugh off my frustrations and learn not merely to tell stories, but to listen to stories. Not merely to listen, but to incorporate, to remember, to build a bridge. Initial sweetness is no sure sign of success. But maybe experience has finally drummed at least something into this thick skull.
Maybe in the future we’ll all go to Guma.[*] [The way Tigger used to pronounce Guam.] In the meantime, I’ll study up on Discovery Channel.[*] [Big Trouble: Henry DeSalvo]
This has been an entry for The Real LJ Idol writing competition: the Final Season, Topic 1 : Jayus.