Building Family (S1 E3)

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Needing a distraction and maybe a few new ideas, Emeka decided to pull up the Black & Poly Facebook group. He’d never been active in B&P, but he liked lurking and learning. Even though a lot of the stuff on B&P was 101 stuff (which was how the founder liked it), he often picked up a useful nugget or two.

Today, someone had posted about land being available cheap in Minnesota, and maybe they could get an intentional community going. Intentional communities were another topic that came up from time to time. Last time had been about someone’s family plot in Texas, of all places. He hadn’t paid much attention, but this time he sat down to read the whole discussion.

The phone rings, startling Emeka. He scowled at it but answered. “Hello.”

“Hey, ‘Mek!” his friend Raul said. “Look, I know we were going to do a movie night Thursday, but I picked up an extra shift. I can’t afford to turn that down.”

“I hear you. Movie night can be done anytime, right? How about we try for next Thursday?”

“You know how it goes. I don’t have my schedule for next week yet. But we can try. What’ve you been up to? How’s the new place?”

Emeka shrugged even though Raul couldn’t see him. “It’s okay. Nice to not have to worry about rent.”

“Lucky asshole.”

Emeka didn’t know that getting kicked out as a teen and learning his parents died from lawyers counted as ‘lucky.’ But no rent was definitely a silver lining of the whole mess. “So, I was on B&P. They’re talking about intentional communities. Sounds pretty interesting, like a bunch of folks deciding to build a community together.”

“What! No, man. That’s white people shit. I had a coworker who was obsessed with that stuff. Like, building a bunch of log cabins in the wilderness and all living together off the grid. Who needs that shit?”

“Really? That’s not what I was seeing.”

Raul snorted. “Sure, they make it sound good, but it’s like Woodstock — crazy white people idea that they make sound amazing, but is actually rain, mud, and not enough toilets.”

“Alright, alright. I’m not going anywhere without enough toilets,” Emeka laughed.

They talked a bit longer, until Raul had to leave for work.

Emeka went back to B&P and the discussion about intentional communities. It sounded like Raul knew a bit about them; more than Emeka did after reading part of one conversation. God knew coworkers with obsessions could talk your ear off. So if he thought it was a bad idea, it might be. And this talk of buying land in Minnesota or where ever wasn’t reassuring on the toilet situation.

Still, Raul had a tendency to dismiss a lot of things as ‘white people shit’. As if white people coming up with a thing or doing it a lot was a reason to dismiss it. Besides, if folks in B&P were talking about it, it obviously wasn’t ‘white people shit.’

Hell, some people’d told him polyamory was ‘white people shit.’ Which was ridiculous. If anything forcing monogamy on everyone was white people shit. Lots of places around the world didn’t do monogamy before Europe came conquering. If prejudice about what a black person could do was going to stop him, he’d never have transitioned.

Fuck it. He pulled up DuckDuckGo and ran a search on intentional communities. There was a lot of info, and he settled in to read. It was on the third website that he found a reference to Freedom, Georgia. 97 black families had bought a chunk of land to start a new community. White people shit my ass.

Emeka started reading up on intentional communities.

A while later, movement out of the corner of his eye distracted Emeka. He looked up to see two birds — sparrows maybe? — flying around right outside. He took a closer look. They had a nest tucked into the bush right below the window. He’d never been much of a bird watcher, but curiosity had him turning away from the computer to see what they were up to.

There were a trio of chicks in the nest, and it was feeding time. Each of the grown-up birds dropped something — bugs? worms? — into one of the babies’ mouths, then flew off.

Emeka waited a minute or two and was about to return to his reading when they came back with two more morsels. For the next several minutes, they flew in and out, feeding the babies until the little mouths stopped gaping.

A shadow skimmed across the grass.

Suddenly, the grown-up sparrows turned into, like the Red Baron, dive-bombing a crow that must have come too close to their nest. They were tiny next to the blackbird, but they didn’t stop. They were defending their babies, and nothing was going to drive them away.

It wasn’t long before the crow was driven off, and the show was over.

Emeka went back to his reading, but it didn’t seem as interesting. He couldn’t really do an intentional community, could he? He was just as tied to this place as the birds were to their nest.

He has a job, polyam partners, friends. Oh, if he needed to, he could pack up and move. Maybe to Connecticut to be near Bertina. But not on a whim or because he didn’t like the goddamn free home he got.

He pulled Facebook back up and was relieved to see that the Whovians were finally settling down. It would probably flare up on and off for a couple of days, but it wouldn’t take over his feed again. Until the next feeding frenzy. He was glad his friends were Whovians. When GoT fans got going, they had gone on for days. Those folks really loved their shows.

He thought about that love and excitement and realized that was what he’d been missing thinking about intentional communities. He wasn’t excited about them, wasn’t in love with the idea. Whatever he ended up doing about the house or roommates or whatever, he came to one decision right then. He wouldn’t move away unless he’s as excited about moving as the fans were about their fandoms.

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