PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Community We Build

When my dad told me he was divorcing my mother (6 years ago or so), I was a huge mixture of things - relief, dismay, shock, and most of all, sadness. I've never had much of a relationship with my mother, it's always been with my dad, and yet that family, such that it was, was all I'd ever known, and its disintegration seemed to challenge the very foundation I stood upon every day. A year or so later, when my father told me he was marrying someone else, I still can see James, sitting on the side of my bed, and as he held me in his arms as I sobbed, telling me that he was my family now, and to let my sadness go. I didn't quite grasp the significance of what he was saying at the time, because I didn't understand how to "be family" with anyone but my parents, and really only my dad, if you put it under the microscope.

The past years have opened up my eyes so much more, far beyond what I arrogantly believed I thought I already knew. For all through my "formative years", I spent many, many significant points in time away from my parents - Christmas, college summers, because we were fighting or because of impending snowstorms, and I told myself throughout all those times, that family was something you could make yourself. I cooked enormous Thanksgiving dinners for friends. I spent Thanksgivings alone. I fancied myself independent, selective, choosing my new family, year-to-year. I ignored the fissures of grief, over the family dynamic I didn't have, couldn't create, couldn't fix. I spent a lot of my younger years in a turmoil I couldn't even understand. Those pockets are still there, somewhat scarred over, somewhat healed, most of them are now like an inactive volcano. I don't erupt with grief at everything. Probably because I have such family with James. And I have such excellent, treasures of friendship. Some are closer than others, some drift in and out like the ocean, some are far-flung and sporadic, some are just beginning - and yet all those connections are so deep, they pull focus away from the core that is no longer, they give me strength, they motivate me to keep giving.

I recently helped a friend through a rough break-up, packing the ex's items & providing distraction & fun. His thanks were so heartfelt, and to that, my reaction was surprise. Surprise that my actions merited such emotional thanks, because they really were done without a second thought - and that surprised me as well. I'm a selfish, selfish, did I mention selfish? - person. I clutch my time like little Charlie Bucket clutched his golden ticket to Wonka's chocolate factory. People don't think "giving" when asked for the first word to describe me. ("Loud" is usually a common response.) But I like that I have it within me to give, even if it's not my second nature. I feel more complete, having given my friendship & support & love to those who really need it, and here is where I show my age & experience: it is now given to those who won't suck it up and give nothing in return.

I love the notion of fixing things, even though I know I'm not that powerful. Given that, it's not surprising that I married someone who also wants to fix things. And so, I dedicate this blog to JWo, because whenever I hear the song "Fix You" by Coldplay, I think of him and how he always wants to make my sadness disappear. He is my family, and I love him for that gift. His light guides me home.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:11 AM