I’ve always wanted to write a story on the black sheep of families. Greg and I hold that position in our families. We aren’t barbarians or plunderers. We just see more gray in the world than others in our families. Life experience and much thought have caused us to veer from the views of our childhood.
When I’ve looked for reading on the subject, all I’ve found is the hollow advice to not discuss politics and religion. That’s a good starting point, a way to keep the peace. What I have recognized during the past few years though is that our beliefs inform nearly every aspect of our lives. People on opposite sides of the political spectrum gather news from different places, read different books, and eat different food (Do you prefer Cracker Barrel or Whole Foods?). Those of you who read my brother’s comment on my previous post know that even medicine is a subject of debate.
That leaves little common ground on which to build a relationship. And it leaves the best parts of me — the passionate, interesting parts of me — tucked into a shell. I have always had the temperament of a teacher’s pet. I wanted to please the “adults” in my life, and I needed years to understand that I couldn’t please everyone, that trying to please everyone made me miserable.
I am unsure of how much I should work to improve tenuous relationships, or whether it is possible to improve them. I do want Eleanor to know and love her extended family. I used to think that we would all float toward each other with time, but I can see that we’re on two currents moving in opposite directions. We only become more ourselves, more committed to our beliefs, as we age.
One of the many reasons I love Austin is that it is a land of misfits. Many of our neighbors and friends are also drastically different than their families. There is a sense that we are building a community here in which to raise our children. And so, last week, we took a little vacation with some of our Austin friends. It wasn’t perfect. There were children who stayed up too late and meals that didn’t suit every diet. But there was also love. And that’s what I want most for myself and my family — that we be loved just as we are.