Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Visits: Good or Evil?

I can't decide if I prefer people visiting me in Nashville, or if I prefer to be left alone, an exile in this southern jungle of furious heat and humidity. Hmmmmm.

When they visit, they being my family—most of whom live in the desert oasis Utah—when they visit I am reminded of everything I left behind to come here. The ties between us are renewed and I feel again the strength of the familial bond. I remember part of who I am, the part that fits in an extended family structure. Me, the middle sister. Me, the wife of Stoker. Me, the niece. Me, the daughter. Me, the daughter-in-law. Me, the sister-in-law. It's complex.

Then they leave and I'm left with one family identity, wife. Which is good. Sometimes that's all I have energy for, heh heh. Stoker and I are best friends, too, so there's also that, which doesn't mean I'm only a wife.

Wife has a lot of baggage, doesn't it? Some of it not good. There's wife the nag. Wife the servant. Wife the slave. Wife the property. Wife the chattel. Ha ha. Some of those are synonyms, so I'm cheating, but hey, it makes the point.

I think originally, like maybe when Adam and Eve were hanging out together in Eden, wife meant something decent and the term was unburdened with negative human constructs. There was no wife property. Wife meant help-meet. Friend.

Maybe that's too idyllic of a view when you come right down to it.

Anyway, the point is that I'm not against the term wife. But for some mysterious reason I feel all this pressure to defend my perspective, as though just by discussing my roles in a family and partnership I'm submitting to servitude and archaic views of relationships.

But I don't think words like wife and husband should be poisoned by post-modern constructs and ideas. There IS a lot of baggage here, in the present. There are a lot of crappy relationships and all that, which give marriage a bad name.

And love. It gets a bad name too.

I also feel like the whole attitude about in-laws, you know, like this, "Oh man, my in-laws are visiting. Ick. They're horrible, what a burden..." is awful. I like my in-laws. I stepped into marriage and was aware of most of the roles, most of the cliches, such as this one about the terrible in-laws, and was confused that I didn't feel all of them.

Maybe I'm an oddity, but I look forward to their visit. What I typically rue is their departure. Perhaps that's because sometimes I feel like I live here in exile, depending on how dramatic I'm feeling at the moment, even though I love Nashville in a number of ways (the fireflies, the small feel of the city, the people, the used bookstores...I could go on and on). I guess as time has passed I've grown to realize more and more that the portion of my life that I love the most is the time I spend with my family. The trappings of material pursuits disappear with time and age. What remains is the memories I have with the people I love.

What the heck? I must be getting old. Old and wise.

In any case, when they go back to Utah, their absence is loud and the silence in our home is powerful. I get back to my routine. Thank goodness for routines, eh?

So anyway, I still can't decide. I guess it's better to have them visit and deal with the quiet after they leave. I shouldn't be such a baby about it. I'm tough, after all. Right? Right?


cassi said...

Um, should I cancel my visit next month? ;)

BIGMANlittleWORLD said...

I just had a tiny apartment full of friendly lovelies and glad they visited, actually somewhat sad when they left. And as exhausted as I felt afterwards, I was very happy they came. The enjoyment of seeing family and friends, and their souls filling your house with laughs, obnoxiousness, and even sometimes drama is so worth those fleeting moments of sadness you may feel as your house becomes your house again and not the family hostel.

Nicole Grotepas said...

Cassi--Cancel it at your peril.

BIGMAN--Just HOW many lovelies did you fit into that tiny apartment? Was it like one of those old VW bug things where you were testing to see how many people you could squeeze in? :) I agree, it is nice to have visitors. Parting is such sweet sorrow, though.