I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pull up a chair. Let's talk.
Tag Archives: Social Family
And it may be obvious.
We come here because we’re missing something over there. I’ll speak personally rather than assume I know the reasons for everybody else. I have a great group of friends that come from different aspects of my life. That’s not quite true, actually. We have all become good friends by getting to know each other through work.
There’s the Eclectic One. A woman six weeks younger than me who I met more than 25 years ago, while I was working at the law school I would end up attending. Through thick and thin and everything in between, we have been best friends for so long, it’s hard to imagine life without her. Although we talk sporadically and see each other even less, we’re always able to talk about anything and everything. We share a love of books, we’re politically liberal, we have both loved and lost in the years we’ve known each other, and helped each other through all those battles life brings.
There’s Guest Blogger. I met him only a few years ago and he quickly became somebody I could trust to share my deepest, darkest secrets as I do for him as well. We share a desire to escape the world. An idealism of what humanity could be. A passion for pizza and beer and trying, trying so hard, to do things the right way. We suffer mightily at our failings and those of our kind. We share good times and bad. I couldn’t have imagined the last few years without GB.
There’s Pocahontas. A woman I worked with for only a year or two, but she, too, became my best friend. For almost ten years now we’ve carried on a conversation about our lives, our fears, our desires. Everything you can possibly imagine. She knows what I think before I’ve even thought it. We’re the type of friends who could finish each other’s sentences if we wanted to.
There are others (and if you feel slighted for not being included in my list, don’t, you know you’re on the list). I call them my circle. For the most part, they have no idea who the other members of my circle are. I’ve never had a meeting with all members of my circle. That would be amazing, though — I think they’d refer to it as an intervention. 🙂 But they know this — they are a part of my circle. Playing a critical role in my daily existence. As they step in and step out, they provide me with an opportunity to fill a void that is left mostly unfulfilled by my immediate family.
And let me pause here for a moment. “Immediate family” is something that different people define in different ways. Once I got married and had kids, my family became that group. My wife and our two kids. They became the center around which my world rotated. Yet, there has been something utterly lacking in that center.
I get it from my circle. And I get it here. So many of the things I talk about here, if I raised with my immediate family, I would get blank stares and a change of subjects. Deep, meaningful conversations are a thing they shy away from. Talk about feelings? Share deepest fears and biggest dreams? No. No. No. We talk about the “business” of life. Never about the emotions of our existence. Unless I bring it up and then it’s like dragging a stubborn cow out of the barn trying to get them to open up.
I call it intimacy. Not physical intimacy, but emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, metaphysical, psychological intimacy. It’s all wrapped up into these words that I share with my circle and that I put into this blog. And in the 2+ years I’ve been running this blog, my circle has grown.
In this odd way, the sharing of thoughts and feelings through this blog and reading posts by other bloggers who are willing to share a piece of themselves — and then come back for more. It’s all about filling a part of that void. We’ve never met, yet you read my thoughts, share yours, and we continue down the path of our lives. Scattered around the world, but on our blogs, together we search for answers and solutions. A fellow blogger claimed recently that he reads my blog and learns from it. He even used the word “teacher” to describe me. Pshaw. I’m not a teacher. We are all students in the classroom of life and we are here to help each other.
I asked a question a post or two ago about whether your family reads your blog. The answers I got speak for themselves. I have this feeling I’m not alone in struggling with the need to talk intimately and feeling like there isn’t some one on the other end. Except for my circle. Except for you.
While I was at the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, participating in the Short Fiction Master Class, one of the other participants brought up the concept of a social family. It was in the context of a story one of us had written and he was commenting on the group of individuals who made up the core of the story — none of them related, but providing to each other the love and comfort of a family. Hence, a social family. A couple of months before the workshop, I wrote a short story inspired by a prompt at We Drink Because We’re Poets. Northville Five & Dime. It was, at the time, nothing more than an effort to write a story that wasn’t the expected. The prompt could lead very easily into a sexual romp. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I didn’t want the obvious. So, I wrote about something different. And I thought I was done.
Then I heard about MCWC and needed something to submit to be judged for the Master Class. I submitted Northville and got in, which meant a dozen other people would be reading it and discussing it.
Then I started thinking about the story and realized there was much more to tell. Actually, I knew that when I wrote the final line. That wasn’t really the end. There was story in Pete asking the girl to the dance. There was story in the dance itself. There was story in Pete’s parents. There was story and more story. One thing though was that I thought the young lady who worked at the Five & Dime would be making a graceful exit from the story and it would become about other characters.
Then the workshop participants, including Peter Orner, got ahold of it. Peter was fascinated by that young lady. He threw out the idea that there was the potential for a social family here. The sisters and Pete — three wounded, scarred, troubled individuals who come together for the love and support they weren’t getting elsewhere. He, along with others, was aghast at the idea that the Five & Dime employee would be disappearing.
So, she isn’t. And I had an idea for how to continue with the story. That first version was around 1,500 words. I’m now approaching 6,000 words and I haven’t even got to the girl in the wheelchair. Pete and Lily (the young lady has a name now) have a lot of damage to reveal. I’m pretty sure this story will end up being 15,000-20,000 words and will be the first such story I publish on Kindle as a stand-alone short story/novella.
Which leads to another point that occurred to me when I woke up this morning at the ungodly time of 5:45 and started thinking of some of the posts from other bloggers I read last night.
I have a social family here on WordPress. These are the people I’m attracted to here. The ones who write about their wounds and scars, their struggles for balance, their revelations and reactions as they journey through life. There is something we find in sharing those things here with, for the most part, people who are actually complete strangers, but who have become a part of our personal circle. The support and camaraderie, the sharing of our life details and life adventures, even if we never meet is a huge part of the social contract. So, that’s it. Welcome to the table, social family. Keep the dialogue going.
One question I’ve wanted to ask for a long time, but I think it finally fits here. For my blogging friends — if you have spouses or significant others, do they read your blog? What about children or parents? I’d be curious to know. Mine don’t. Except for my father and a sister.
Join 1,832 other followers