Monday, June 9, 2014

Psychological Family vs. Biological Family

I performed a good friend's wedding this weekend.  Given my views on relationships and my rather dour view of wedding culture in the United States, it was an interesting experience.  I'm glad that I did it.  I was happy to support my friend and her new partner.  He gets the stamp of approval for being nerdy enough to hold a conversation about comics, Star Wars, and Star Trek.  He is also quite skilled in the area of stage magic which is always a plus.  The only questionable characteristic to be found is his preference for Tom Waits.  In many people, this would be a fatal character flaw...the magic is impressive enough to counteract it though.  And there's the whole thing about my friend loving him and stuff.

Weddings are typically nauseating affairs full of conspicuous consumption and over involvement.  The delusions people harbor regarding "dream weddings" are considerable and terrifying...typically.  This weekend was quite lovely, mostly relaxed, and genuinely meaningful.  In short, refreshing.  There was some expected drama including crying family and at least one guest, and a father of the bride MIA after spending the night out with the groom, his wedding party, and lots of Irish whiskey.  Also, the skeezy DJ invading my personal space while using the line, "You have such a classic look, I feel like I know you" on me as we waited for the bridal party to get into place was fascinating and insulting all at once.  I will never get aggressive, tactless passes, especially when they insult my intelligence.  I sure as hell wouldn't go for one either.  

The best thing about the weekend was getting to spend time with people important to me.  My friend, "MJ", and her family are part of my "psychological family" (as opposed to biological).  This distinction between psychological and biological family can be incredibly helpful in reconciling the notion that sometimes our biological family is not what we deserve, not something we can count on, or is simply insufficient in supporting us in the ways we need.  After my family lost our home in a fire, I basically lived with MJ.  A few months later when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, they were all there when I needed them.  I could crash on their foldout sofa (undoubtedly the most comfortable place I have ever slept).  MJ and I would have bonfires in the backyard, play badminton, listen to classic rock, and generally amuse ourselves with extreme sarcasm.  Her parents, Jackie and Dez, are a second set of parents to me.  They are both hippies and a ton of fun.  

Dez and I get along very well having bonded over his excellent collection of sci-fi/fantasy novels and musical taste.  I remember walking down to MJ's room the first time I visited her house and seeing a shelf of paperbacks over the stairs including the original Shannara series.  When I spoke to Dez about them, he was shocked I had already read many of his favorite series.  As I followed that up by commenting on his Boston, Fleetwood Mac, and Clapton albums after quoting Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles,  I was officially designated MJ's coolest friend ever.  Then, when I used (and properly defined) "wain" in a game of Scrabble I was declared "Daughter #4", a role I will continue to gladly fulfill.  Dez speaks three languages, is incredibly well read, and probably one of the only truckers with a radio preset to NPR.  He has an interesting life story I might chronicle at a later date.  Jackie is a sweet, kind person with a sarcastic sense of humor.  She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before MJ and I became friends, and we've all watched as it has progressed.  Despite this, she stays active and maintains her sense of humor.  Dez and Jackie have been married for 42 years, a nice example of a loving and enduring relationship. 

My biological family is great in many respects, especially now that we are all adults.  Growing up, things were a mess emotionally, psychologically, financially, and physically.  I am glad, however, that I have the support of many people in different ways including my psychological family members.  Weddings seem to help me remember this.   



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