The Road goes on and on…
Been a bit, no doubt, and as we oft say the best laid plans of mice and men…
A long, long time ago, I had an immense family. We had our problems, our differences, our individual histories. Much like any other close family, I assume based on statistical modeling and assorted data sets.
We were not perfect. A deeper part of me is firmly convinced until evidence is presented that the stereotypical perfect family, where everyone is well balanced and there are no horrors and such, and the world is peachy and things may be tough but they get by; this perfect family does not exist.
We are, as a people, far too good at fucking people up as well as fucking people over.
I mention this because the reason that I did not start up fresh and happy on the morning of the fourth is that I was not in a place that is mine. I was attending to the needs of an aunt and uncle whom I love dearly and cherish much — though what I recall and feel and hw they recall and feel about past things may be different.
In the process of doing this — an event precipitated by the passing of one of my aunts — I have reconnected with my maternal family in a way that is what I had always wished for, years ago. But I was new hatched and when I reached out to one, it went poorly, and i misjudged my family and so I lost a line to them.
Until my gay cousin found me and started reconnecting us.
I have a paternal family, though to call it that is a bit of a stretch for those who have the wherewithal to face me directly and stand firm that blood is family.
That family I have been in touch with a long while — thanks to my youngest sibling, a sister. She connected me with my other sister and those brothers I still had. We lost one a few decades ago, and this year we lost another — unexpected and unrelated to covid.
I have always wanted to reconcile these two distinct sides, but there are some chasms that aren’t exactly going to fly, and so I just let it be — I am phenomenally fortunate, blessed perhaps, to have two families that are distinct. And then comes the family I only had moments with, each part of it. My Philly family, drawn from my sire’s mother, and my rez family, drawn from my Sire’s Father.
So, really, I have four distinct whole families. Four families to turn to when I need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to hear, or…
Nah. Not really. I mean, I do have four families. But calling them up to vent and share my day and trade kid photos? Not so much.
My Philly family are strangers to me. While I loved my paternal grandmother’s accent, I never got to meet my paternal grandfather. And I am not tied to Mali as she and cousins there are.
My tribe is closer to me. But still, there is no long term relationship, and honestly, I think they were stunned that I would want to grab my heritage and hold on to it — but like my philly family, once we knew the provenance, it was immediate. And I learned a lot about myself and why some things seem true while others seem false.
Not the things you are likely thinking. this is not about the culture — I knew a fair amount already and my pidgin speech caused quite a riot (I was asked to not try that) But I was dutiful and I took the stories and I did my part as I was commanded and I shared them with others of our tribe who did not make Journey along that long road that I did.
I did not come to then to take from them. I came to them to be given and to know and to learn. And what I came away with is perhaps my most cherished thing, a secret that I shall keep and a task I shall fulfill. Wakan makes plans, and I see that my part is not with them.
My maternal family has come to some realities about me. I am a mixed race kid born to a family headed by racists who didn’t meant o be mean and who never wanted me to feel Black or think of myself that way, but the whispers and the thoughts and the ideas…
… yeah, like I said, we weren’t perfect. But my family always had each other’s backs.
My mother died. My grandmother died. It was fast, about a year apart. My mother’s younger sister passed away, and this left the three boys. The eldest I am not in touch with. His personality and politics are markedly different from mine — but he is easily as full of himself as I am of myself, and I don’t think I will ever find that not funny.
He had two kids. I do not speak with or have contact (and indeed, am blocked on social media) his eldest. They are people for whom this election and the associated evil are good things. But the younger I am in touch with.
My experiences with my family have been slow, and I have been unusually hesitant, very stand offish and very much concerned with making others uncomfortable. Making a good impression as Toni ins tea dof who I was before.
I have done the same with all my family. The wedding of my middle daughter — ages ago — taught me the pain and hurt of not being accepted in a place where I was already accepted something fierce and wholly adult. I do not ever want to be a source of embarrassment or humiliation to my family (well, save for the one’s that are assholes, but that’s because I am just as big an asshole).
I am glad I did that. Because now I have my family. Now I have connection. And that means so much to me.
I am pretty materialistic. The belongings that I have all have sentimental meaning if they are enduring, or are something I have long wanted, or some form of import to me and fuck anyone else. SOmetime sit is just “hey, this is more handy”, like the much, much smaller rice cooker I now have.And yet, early o in my transition I packed 100 pounds of stuff and said good bye to everything else.
My wife and kids turned there backs on me. Ancient regrets and hurt feelings hindered my paternal contact. The pain of rejection silenced the others, and the silence on my part and the not belonging was what did it.
At one point, I had lost everything. I had three days worth of clothes, a dress I loved but that was horrible on me, and a computer.
Everything else was gone.
I often say I usually right. I never say I am always right. Because in the end, I always remember I was wrong about family and belongings.
Over ten years I gained everything back except the family, and I gained it all back ten fold. The time and distance makes it easier to accept me (I mean, I know that factually and intellectually, but the emotional part still shakes its head), but easier does not mean utterly smoothly.
I had family. And, more importantly, I got to feed them good food. Spicy, and well, my fam doesn’t do spicy, lol, But it was good and well loved and I feel pretty freaking awesome about that.
I am still reserved — but I become reserved in times of stress, and especially when stress if strongly felt by others. I try to be the ocean of calm. The source of a quick chuckle, the smart ass remark.
These are, after all, the people who made me.
I don’t know if it will endure. Or how long or how short. BUt right now…
I have family. To visit on my journey, to step off the road to speak with, to be there for them when needed.
To walk the road, and not always be alone, as the road goes on and on…