By: Heather Somaini
I’ve been thinking lately about people. Our people specifically. We have people in our lives that we rely on in varying degrees. We have a small inner circle of family and friends that are our constants, the ones that we keep very close. From there, the circles get bigger and expand to include all the other people that we spend time with.
But one day we had kids and everything changed. Our family stayed in the same circle, clearly they had to – they’re FAMILY. I started to see our friends in different groups – friends with kids, friends without kids, gay friends with kids, gay friends without kids, single friends and friends in relationships. The list went on and on. There was always a disconnect between what we were doing and what our friends were doing. Something easy to point at but difficult to fully appreciate.
Soon we were spending time on Saturdays with new friends who all had twins. These people were necessary. They understood what we were going through right then. We all spoke the same twin-dom language that everyone else misunderstood. Our problems were the same. Our highs and lows were similar. The time we spent with friends without kids dwindled immediately.
Two years later, we found ourselves spending a lot of time with the parents at our kids’ pre-school. Their kids were the same age as ours; we were learning the ins and outs of the pre-school together and tackling the challenges of our own kids realizing there are rules out there in the world. We all banded together and I realized we were spending less time with our twin friends. These new pre-school parents seemed to fit better for some reason.
Of course more time has passed and our friend configuration seems to have adjusted again but this time I’m seeing a real pattern. I’m realizing that none of these groups in their entirety works for our family. They all come with their pros and cons. The people I’m finding we are more and more drawn to fall into a very particular category – they’ve all had some sort of struggle, just like us. I’m going to call it “my kind of weird” which seems really terrible at first but I use the term affectionately because I think I’m weird too.
I called my mom this weekend and asked her when she realized I was a little different (or weird). I wasn’t necessarily different because I was gay, I had no idea back then. But instead I think my thought process was different, I read different books than the other kids and I was interested in music from my parents’ generation, like the Beatles and Elvis. My mom says I wasn’t different, but then in that New England sense of humor she said “No, I didn’t think you were weird because for an entire year when you were 10 you refused to go out without your blue baseball hat and blue sweater. No, you weren’t weird at all. Or that you always had your nose in a book or headphones on. I didn’t think you were weird when the only dress you ever wore was to your Junior Prom and then your brother wore it in a show two years later. No, there was nothing weird about you guys at all.” Ya gotta love Mom.
I’m realizing that my struggles, my “weird”, has made me who I am and it makes me very much appreciate it in others. Struggle gives us a different perspective on life and compassion for the human condition. I’m happy that in the past year we had our first real challenge with one of our kids because it’s given me the skill set to handle the next one. The people that are closest to us right now have also had challenges. They’re going through divorce, loss, medical and developmental challenges. They are rebuilding their careers, rehabilitating their personal lives, and nurturing their children.
They’re struggling just like me. They’re my kind of weird.