Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Love Garden

Since our initial realization that we should totally live together, Hat Guy, Flower Lady, and I have been doing a lot of thinking and talking about how we want this to work. We established early on that the goal here is to have a function family unit.

What that means for us is this:

The green is a stand-in colour, since we're not sure what that relationship will look like.

Within our family unit there are four relationships. There's a relationship between each pair of people, and then one for the whole group. Each of these must be happy, loving, supportive, communicative, and fulfilling for all involved parties. If any one of these relationships is faltering, the whole system is sad.

Right now, we have something that looks kind of like this:

Clearly there's some work to do. In particular, Flower Lady and I need to build a more-than-surface relationship together. We all have some ideas about what that relationship should be, but there's also a large element of natural and unpredictable growth which has to happen. My analogy here is a love garden.

You can make a box for a love garden, and water it (spend time getting to know each other), and weed it (talk a whole bunch to nudge things in useful directions, or at least away from bad directions), but in the end you just have to wait and see what grows in it.

Relationships can bloom without such attentions - that's what happened with me and Hat Guy. We just had this box of random plants that happened because we knew each other, and one day we turned around and went "Hey, look, flower buds! We should probably water those." What Flower Lady and I are doing is intentionally constructing a box, sitting down with our watering cans and our gardening gloves, and going "Okay, I want a plant with flowers. Go." And hopefully something suitable will appear.

It's important to note that there aren't any seed stores in this metaphor. We can have great ideas about what we want to be to each other, but in reality a relationship cannot be forced, and just as we can't plant seeds in the garden, we can't make ourselves have feelings. And that's scary, because what if nothing grows? But it's also okay. Because a love garden is a lot more exciting and interesting and, ultimately, fulfilling than a love lego sculpture. That's because a lego sculpture doesn't have room for pleasant surprises, but a garden does.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family (Part 2 - Mine)

In my last post I talked about family. In summary, a parental family is the family one grows up in. One then goes out into the world, finds one or more people to love and live with, and makes a new, chosen family with them. This post will talk about a particular case.

This is the family I grew up with:
Parental Family
I am at an age when I’m mostly still living with them, but I’m also living away a lot of the time (at school) and have found a person I love and want to live with.

So... I should live with him. Right?

No. Our relationship is not the hearts and wedding rings kind of relationship. It’s the playing Scrabble and finding snails on the beach and curling up with cups of tea in the winter kind of relationship. Most people don’t have a word for it. Some people would call it ‘queerplatonic’, but we think that’s a dumb word and besides, why do we need a word anyway?

 Our relationship is very important to both of us, but for hat guy, it is not everything he needs in his personal life. He also needs a hearts and wedding rings kind of relationship.

 Fortunately, he has that!
 So…they’re going to go live together and I will be sad and lonely?

Sad? :(
 Nope. Because flower lady is AWESOME...

 …and not only is totally cool with me being around, but wants me to live with them.

We are going to be a family. The three of us. They will be a couple, and hat guy and I will love each other (But in the pink way, not the red way. It’s a different colour, see?), and flower lady and I will have the most awesome picnics on the front lawn. We’ll have a big house so that we’ll all have room to live in, and hat guy and flower lady can have adorable child(ren) (and I can be the cool aunt), and people whose families aren’t working out can come stay with us for as long as they want. As life goes on, I might find a wedding rings kind of relationship with someone, and that would be pretty cool. There’s plenty of room in the house and the family.  

Family (Part 1 - General Case)


This is a family. The mother is part of the family, the father is part of the family, and the children are part of the family. (The dog may be too, depending on who you ask.) All of these people will (hopefully) always be a part of this family, even though they will probably not always live together. When the children reach a certain age, they will be expected to go out into the world, find people they like, and make new families of their own.  They’ll still be part of this family, but in addition they will have families that they chose for themselves. I will call the original family the ‘parental family’. I will call the children’s new families their ‘chosen families’. 

Society thinks that that a chosen family looks like this:
Chosen Family
If you’re hip to the new social reasonableness, you may think that a chosen family can look like this:

Two women and their child being a family
 …or this:
Two men and their child being a family
 But I think a whole lot of other things can be families as well. I think that any group of people that joins together with love for the purpose of taking care of each other on a long-term basis can be a chosen family.

Family (with or without child[ren])
 I even think that this is a family, because even though this person isn’t living with other people, they’ve formed a self-sufficient unit that they’re happy with, and which is independent of their parental family:
 These groups are all different, but they all serve a similar purpose, and they can all be chosen families. Chosen families are like food. Chinese food is very different from Mexican food, which is very different from other food, but they all serve the basic function of making you not starve.

 Different people like to eat different kinds of foods...

 … and different people like to have different kinds of families. Some people want kids. Some people want to live with a woman, or with a man, or with someone who’s kinda in between, or neither, or several of those. None of these options make the resulting group any more or less of a family, just like different ingredients don’t make a food item any more or less of a food.

But sometimes food goes bad.
 Sometimes this can be fixed...

 …but sometimes it cannot. When that happens, most of us stop considering the food to be food anymore, and almost all of us think you should get rid of it. The same is true of families. I’m being careful to say that a group of people can be a family, but aren’t automatically so, because not all people can group together well, and not all groups that start out well continue well. A family is a loving, caring group, not just a bunch of people under a roof. This is an example of a group of people which is not a family:

Group of people =/= family
This is also not a family:

“Wait a minute, that’s the same graphic you said was a family!” Yes. The difference is, in this picture the person is living alone because they haven’t found somebody to love and live with yet. They do not want to live alone. This person can’t be their own family by themself. The other one could.

So. A parental family is the family one grows up in. One then goes out into the world, finds one or more people they love and want to live with, and makes a new, chosen family with them. In the next post I'll tell you about my families.