The word “family” has always been a flexible word. I happen to like the fact that “family” is very much a self-defined word, and every person has a slightly different context for it, but calling someone “family” is the near-universal language to share how important someone is in your life, and the details may be personal. As the oft-misquoted saying goes, blood is thicker than water, right?
I’ve never been someone that fit easily into a tribe. Even growing up, in my incredibly accepting and supportive family, I never seemed to quite fit. I found support, love, and passion in the theater, in public speaking, and in swim team, but even in all of these things I have very much been the odd one out. I was the theater tech geek who wanted to be on stage. I was the speech and debate nerd that wasn’t a political science major. I was the fat girl in athletics. I was dating a woman while at a Catholic college. I am bisexual, a sexual orientation that is oft overlooked in the queer spectrum. I could continue to list all the ways I am “different,” but what it really comes down to is that, like most people, I’m a compilation of a thousand wonderful, beautiful contradictions that somehow add up to a complete whole that doesn’t quite easily fit into any pre-defined mold.
Yet somehow, in a very slow process that’s been happening over the last decade, a family has developed. I sometimes call myself “lucky” for my family, even though I know there have been hundreds of tiny little decisions that have added up to the reality I am living in now. Explaining what, exactly, these decisions were, however, has proven almost impossible — with the caveat that it probably has something to do with Spokane Public Radio and turning around one night to attend theater auditions. Point being, though, that the sum total result of millions of factors have resulted in a chosen family that I completely and utterly adore.
I adore my chosen family not only because every single one of the people I include in this group is completely and in their own way, awesome; or because they accept me fully for who I am. It’s not even the fact that we all call ourselves “the Pod” (even though we do, half jokingly), for lack of a better term. It’s because even though we form a semi-cohesive Pod Unit, we are all still independent individuals. I would love and care for and adore and call every one of these people “family” separate from my relationships with the others, and the fact that we can be a chosen family together is icing on the cake. I love that it is without question (but with lots of communication) that we are there for each other, be it harvesting oats, fixing broken toilets, or staying up until all hours of the night sharing secrets at conversational tone that we never thought we’d be comfortable whispering to another soul.
Each one of these people has come into my life, and our shared lives, differently. We’ve stuck it out together through changes in our family, ourselves, and our lives that we never saw coming. We’ve been there for each other through the joys, through the sorrows, through the New Project Energy and the depths of depression.
Each one of the members of my Pod is creative, energetic, passionate, enthusiastic, unique, challenging, inspiring. There is chaos, uncertainty, friction, communication, breakthroughs and slogs. I also have complete trust that should one of us make a decision that the Pod was not the healthiest choice for themselves, that decision would be respected.
I suppose this is part of why the idea of family is so important to me. While it’s been said that “blood is thicker than water” for well over 300 years, the origin of the saying is that “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” I may not share a few specific pieces of familial DNA with my pod, but that fact, to me, strengthens our bond, for it’s a choice we all make constantly, daily, and completely. Our love, respect for, and encouragement of one another does not diminish or lessen the amount of care, compassion, love, and support in the world. It is my honest and sincere belief that our love for one another creates more room in our little slice of the Universe for even more to be found. Our expression of these feelings may take different forms, but above all that expression is both honest and respectful.
So yes, chosen family. I love you. I am in love with you. Most importantly, thank you. For making the choice to be yourselves, to be independent, and for choosing to let me (and us) walk next to you and with you on your journey.