So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

13 October, 2008

Blood and Water

Family is a complicated thing.

It's on my mind, in a complicated interlacing of reasons, the whole shape of the thing. Bloodkin and chosen, all.

I'm thinking it over in a vast tangle of things. Thinking about a conversation a few days ago where I admitted to someone that I thought of her as a sister and she admitted reciprocation, all as tender and awkward as taking a new lover, making a mark of that. Knowing that that is real and true in a way blood isn't, can't be, at least not for the likes of us, the children of the Mother of Demons.

What is family? Is family blood, genetics; or is family what held me while I was in the depths of panicked depression on seeing the phrase "Playing with my grandchildren" in a notebook, this thing looked forward to and so deeply full of threat.

One of the most enduring ruptures in my relationship with my brother is the fact that we grew up in different families. Same parents, same household, and everything changed so fundamentally after I went away, went mad, stayed away, and in those years we were lost to each other for a while. Entire different realities lie between us, and we know it, and maybe forgive each other a little for becoming strangers.

A long time ago, when I was still semi-active in science fiction fandom, I had a massive blowout with that subculture over 'family'. I ran into a lot of people who talked about how fandom was their true family, how they felt alienated from their bloodkin, how it was a welcoming place for people like me, people who read the stuff, cared about the sorts of things fen cared about, the downtrodden nerds of the world. And it was all well and good, I suppose; I lurked on the fringes and avoided the culty-lovebombing bits of it because I had family, thanks. And then the shibboleths came out. Saying "sci-fi". Liking the occasional television show in genre. When I commented on it, I got mail from people who did costuming saying, "Yeah, looks just like the 'costuming is frivolous' argument to me. Sucks." It was, occasionally, vicious. And it ... pretty much prepared me for every subsequent "We're a welcoming group for people like you so long as you shut up about that."

I'm getting married in the spring. It wakes up all kinds of family tangles something fierce, and not just because the whole process is a familial declaration.

Who is in the real families being brought together there? Where is the line on blood and choice?

It's not a simple question. And it preoccupies me.

2 comments:

ArrogantWorm said...

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage =)

Daisy said...

Yes, congratulations!

The hard-left did all that "we're your real family" stuff. Also, in the movie "Almost Famous" she tells him "you are home" on the tour bus, remember?

I think all subculture-denizens feel that way and are likely constituted of people trying to create something they never really had, or didn't have the way it was "promised" by the dominant culture, anyway.