Since living in Indiana, I have heard a lot of unfortunate Kentucky jokes. So before I start with my actual post, I interrupt my message to clear up a couple misconceptions. Yes, we wear shoes. No, None of my family is married to any of my other relatives. However, I will avoid the southern tendency to romanticize. I am not from the part of Kentucky with horse farms, bluegrass, and UK basketball games. Instead, I am from the strip-mined, high rates of unemployment, trailer park littered Southeast Kentucky. My family and I are trash. My mother would resist my characterization, she fancies us solidly middle class, which economically she is correct now. However, I wasn't raised solidly middle class and culturally we still very much embody many of the stereotypes of poor southern families.
My mother raised me alone and through that process we developed a very close friendship. Seeing her is always nice. Going home however feels a lot like walking into a very complicated boot camp for a brief refresher course in how to manage multiple emotional assaults simultaneously. Its not that they aren't supportive of my life, they are. They are very supportive of me and honestly only struggle minimally with certain elements of my sexual identity. Don't get me wrong you won't catch my mom out toting PFLAG signs or stickers, but thatâ€™s okay there more than enough PFLAG mothers in my life now (nods to the ladies especially Annette). It is more of a silent type of support. They are nice to anyone I bring home and all want me to be happy. They just seriously don't want to discuss it.
In the past few years they have focused their assault on my professional life. "What are you going to do with your life?â€ "Are you ever going to finish school?" or my favorite "What are you going to do with a cultural and interdisciplinary studies degree?" Well this year I was prepared for this attack. I had just gotten all A's in graduate school as well as been a part of the passage of the Indianapolis Human Rights Ordinance before leaving for home. I was confident my armor was strong and this year they wouldn't be able to get me. I was mistaken of course.
My family is very professional in this task. They take this responsibility very seriously. The decided this year to switch their target, adjust the aim and instead of my work life to instead probe my romantic life. They started before I even got out of the car. My favorite aunt called and asked when my ex-boyfriend who they hadn't seen in over a year intended to arrive for Christmas. I was honestly speechless. This began a weekend of everyone being very concerned about my love life. "Who are you dating?" "Is it serious?"
Questions with complicated and in many lights unfortunate answers and not the attacks I had prepared myself for. It was like I was riding into battle expecting tanks and instead got fighter jets. Well, I made it through the weekend without crying once. Thank you to my friends who offered support through many phone calls. Thank you to Cyndi Lauper, who provided the music of choice for this trip.
My point and I have had one the entire time is to remind us all that families and love take many shapes. Although I love my birth family a ton, I also really appreciate the family that I have made for myself. They may not look like many people expect them too or want them too but I can say with little hesitation that who I count as family, who I date, and who my friends are no ones business unless I choose for it to be. I think we can all agree on that. So with your birth families well and hurry back to your home and to your chosen family (which doesn't necessarily have to differ from your birth family) the holidays aren't over and its never to late to curl up by the fire, play a round of trivial pursuit before bed and enjoy each others company.