Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Boys to Men


Odd Man Out

On the way out of the gym yesterday I saw two young men, boys, really, walking to the door. As they passed me I heard the following:

"Yeah, I like girls"
"Someone in particular??"
"Nah. All of 'em"
"Oh, so then you're desperate!"
"No, there isn't anyone special. I just like girls"
"All of 'em. Like I said, yer desperate!"

I laughed. At first. And then I thought about this a bit, and it was deeper than it seemed.

It strikes me that at such an early age we are pigeon holed into believing that we are One Way or Another. We either have someone special, or we are "desperate", we either have a major declared, or we are "drifting", we either have tons of ambition, or we are "lazy". In relationships, in particular, I think it is really very important to have a high level of comfort with Gray Area. I think it is our imperative to raise people to believe that there are as many types of relationship, and ways of Being as there are words in Eskimo for snow.

It is because of the discomfort of other people that we attribute a set of "appropriate" words to who we are, what we do, who we love, and why. As social animals we want to have a language to craft an understanding among participants so as to more comfortably engage one another. In shorthand. We like it fast and clear. We want a label to attach to things so we can search our internal database and see what type of response is called for.

Relationship is a process. For me it is not a noun but a verb. Relationship-ing. I am either In Relationship to or with someone/something or I am not.

Now, if that conversation started another way...

"Yeah, I like boys"

The result would be quick and sharp, most likely. Being under 20, I can pretty much guess that the response would be some sort of recrimination, NOT "Anyone in particular?"

Someone I had not seen in a while asked me if I was in a relationship. I paused and said, "several". That raised a few eyebrows. Mostly I said that to rouse them out of a well worn, sleepy box. I have friends, I have Beloveds, I have a parent I care for dearly, I have animals with whom I have deep, abiding bonds.

Am I married? No. Will I ever be again? Dunno. But life would be a lot more comfortable for me if we promoted a broader understanding of what Love is, what Life is and all the myriad of possibilities, instead of finding Acceptable Words to define who we are and what we do. It would have been so much more enriching to have heard:

"Yeah, I like girls"
"Anyone special?"
"Nah, All of 'em"
"That so rocks!...Me, too!"