228. cloister

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soup_kitchenSorry it’s been a bit between entries, folks. This fall hasn’t been doing much for my depression or my mood.

The short of it is that I got laid off again last Friday. Basically, my job got outsourced to the main corporate office of the company I was contracted with. I shouldn’t have been surprised after seeing half a dozen full-time employees depart in the last month I was there. It averaged about one a week. Most of them put in their two-week’s notice, and the next day were told not to return. In fact, my last day was also the last day for a project manager who had been with the company for 26 years. More than once I heard the phrase, “This place is hemorrhaging people all over the place.”

The staffing agency I work with has had me out on several short-term assignments, but the effect has been pretty demoralizing. Returning to Minneapolis after the brief trip to Seattle, to a job that I no longer enjoyed and to a state where my romantic prospects are negligible, was difficult enough. Then to be back to not having a full-time gig again was another burden.

Tim_Minchin_pianoI think what I wanted to write about today was family. So this shouldn’t be too long.

This afternoon I was practicing Tim Minchin’s song White Wine in the Sun. It’s a song about being a secular person at Christmastime and how the significance of the holiday (arguably, of any holiday) is spending time with loved ones. One lyric from the bridge goes:

And you won’t understand,
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people
Who’ll make you feel safe in this world.

What I’m finding with this whole Sunday Assembly song-leader gig is that, while I may not have been gifted with a voice for Classical music, I actually have a pretty decent voice for indie rock. I’ve been heavily influenced (vocally) by the likes of Fiona Apple, Annie Lennox, Colin Meloy, and Tim Minchin.

So as I was singing through this song, one line of the chorus (“I’ll be seeing my dad / My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum”) particularly struck me as sad, seeing as I’m feeling rather ambiguous still about my own family, and whether I even belong there anymore.

It’s not that I’m not wanted there. I hear occasionally from my sisters and from my parents about how they miss me and wish I came around more. My mom emailed last week to say that my 85-year-old grandmother has asked about me several times recently. I was kinda surprised to hear that seeing as she’s in the declining stages of dementia. The things that stick…

It’s more that I still don’t feel comfortable or safe among with my family. They’re conservative (political and theological) evangelical Christians who don’t accept my “lifestyle” or the fact that I’m an atheist. invisible-manThey acknowledge these things… except, not really. When I’m present, they do their best to ignore the reality that their son is not the heterosexual male they’d always hoped for, or that I don’t believe in their so-called god.

This past summer, my father looked stunned when I declined to hold hands with the family when they prayed at the dinner table. Instead, he and my sister bowed their heads and pretended as if I was participating, going so far as to mime holding hands with the imaginary son/brother they wish they had. It was a symbolic gesture that seemed to sum up our present relationship.

Which is to say, fractured and tenuous.

This evening, while reading through some different news items, I happened across a link to an article on the website Queerty titled “Five Tips For Surviving A Weekend At Home With Your Beau.” I had two competing reactions while reading it:

  1. Thank ‘flip that this probably won’t ever be my life.
  2. This won’t ever be my life.

I’ve only dated one guy who I was with long enough that he wanted to meet my family. About a month before we broke up, Jay did meet my younger sister, her husband and her now three children. Thanksgiving_DayAnd no, that meeting was not the cause of the breakup.

Frankly, I’m getting sort of resigned to the idea that maybe there will never be any kind of close relationship with my family. If I ever find a guy who becomes Mr. LTR, maybe he’ll want to meet them, if only to better understand why I’m as seriously fucked up as I am.

The article advises not withholding information. In my case, that has never been a problem, especially where my family is concerned. I probably disclose too much information.

It also advises giving him “pointers”—but how to advise one’s beau to avoid getting cornered by any member of my family lest they lay out the whole “Roman road” and try to convert him? My parents are definitely to be avoided, especially together. They’re like the Christian Bonnie and Clyde of Evangelism, working in tandem to drag someone’s entire life story out of them and then work all the angles to convince them that “Jesus is the only way to salvation.”

And “Be understanding”? That’s a little condescending. I mean, it’s possible that my perspective on my family is skewed towards the dysfunctional, but how exactly is a gay couple supposed to react when the family doesn’t acknowledge that the two of you are in a legitimate relationship at all—and rather, they believe that you’re “sexually disordered”? What are you supposed to say when people start ranting about President Obama, about liberals ruining the country, how climate change is a hoax, etc?

Of course, all of this is purely hypothetical. I haven’t even been on a date in almost six months, so to speculate about a boyfriend who’d even want to meet my family is a bit… hasty.

But it was certainly weird to sing about seeing my family at Christmas.

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