Building Family, S1 E4

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Long before the pizza arrived, Emeka was sick of himself and his thoughts. He needed to get up and do something. So once he finished eating and cleaned up, he closed down the computer and grabbed a handful of cardboard boxes. His parents had left a lot of stuff behind, even after the lawyers had gone through and taken whatever. Most stuff that wasn’t furniture needed to be boxed up.

He gritting his teeth, he started with a job he’d been avoiding. The hallways and stairs were lined with family pictures. Not just his mom and dad, but grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins. He boxed them all up and hoped he was boxing up the memories with them.

It was the first time he’d seen any of his family in over ten years. And most of them were strangers. Even his parents looked like strangers to him now. Which made sense. He hadn’t had a family since the day he’d walked out of this house. Once, he’d hoped some of his cousins or Aunt Alice would look for him, be there for him. But they never did.

When the last picture was packed away, a tiny scrap of hope died within him. He’d pretended not to notice, told himself that he hadn’t been paying attention, that there were more pictures around the corner he hadn’t looked at. He couldn’t lie to himself any longer. Dozens of pictures, filling two boxes. He wasn’t in any of them.

He ignored the tears as he hauled the boxes to the garage. Out of sight until he could go through and see if there were one or two he’d want to keep. Gramma and Pops maybe. Or, hell, all of them. His family. He set the boxes down and rubbed the tears off his cheeks. It wasn’t roommates he needed, not a community. It was family. And wasn’t that a kick in the nuts.

Rather than go back into the house, he sat down and let the cool of the concrete soak into him. He didn’t know if he hadn’t been missing family until his parents died, or he’d been in denial about it. If he even took Shayna’s advice to find a shrink, they could help him sort it out.

Shayna, as much as they cared for each other, wasn’t family. None of his polyam partners were. They had fun together, they cared for each other, but they never crossed that line from friends and romantic partners to family.

He let the tears fall another minute or two, then got back up. One painful job done, he might as well tackle the rest. For the first time since he’d moved back, he opened the door to his childhood room.

And winced. He’d half expected to have been erased from his room, the same way he’d been erased from every other part of the house, but this was worse. It was… what, some kind of shrine to the girl they’d tried to force him to be? It was the same, still the pink and frills they’d forced on him, even as a teenager. His rebellious posters that his mom hated were still up on the walls. The only change was propped in the middle of his desk: a single picture frame. A single picture. One of the rare times his parents had managed to get him to dress ‘properly’, which meant ‘girly’. He took a minute to take it all in, then slammed the door.

His stomach heaved as he hurried down the hallway, unable to wipe the image of that… that… fuck. They’d never accepted he was a boy, he’d known that. They spent his entire life looking for a cheat code — up up down down left right left right — to ‘cure’ him of his refusal to be the girl he was ‘supposed’ to be.

He rinsed his mouth out and threw himself back on his computer. Something else, he needed to think of something else. Family. He’d been thinking about family, about needing a family. He laughed at himself. Sure, right. Where was he going to get one? Did he think, like his parents, that there was some set of cheat codes to life that magically gave you what you wanted? He didn’t have a family, hadn’t for years. And no way to get one now.

He pulled up B&P again and found yet another Unicorn Hunter post. UHs were couples looking for a person (usually a ‘hot bi babe’) to ‘join their couple.’ They tended to lay out their expectations for the hbb in question like a job listing and give no sense of who they were or why anyone should be interested in them. This post was an example of the worst of them. It expected their required hbb to be equally in love with both of them (always) and understand their secondary position. They weren’t to interfere with the ‘main couple.’

Even the best of Unicorn Hunters didn’t seem to understand that they were sellers in a buyer’s market. They also didn’t get how even the best-intentioned and least toxic setup (which these two didn’t have) they were proposing was harmful. You can’t have a democracy of three, with a pre-existing voting block of two. Instead, they paraded into polyam groups expecting legions of women (or more rarely men) to fall at their feet. Then they got pissy when folks explained to them why it wasn’t going to happen. Ron, with the patience of a saint, was in a long comment thread with this latest example. Explaining, again why unicorn hunting didn’t work.

Curious Emeka pulled up a calculator and started working through a percentile calculation. He was never the best at math, but this one seemed fairly straightforward. Even if the base numbers were assumptions and estimations.

Yeah, it looked like Ron’s answer was solid. Assuming his numbers were good — and Emeka thought he was being generous — the chances of a pre-existing couple finding a local person who was polyamorous, shared both their interests, and developed an immediate interest in both of them were worse than one in a million. He shook his head and decided not to get involved in this one. Most UHs never understood the difference between a triad and what they were looking for. He wasn’t interested in charging at this windmill.

The biggest problem the UHs had, the thing that set them apart from other folks who wanted to be in a triad, was they were looking for the ‘right’ person. Lots of people wanted a triad or menage, but they understood you couldn’t order one up from the pizza shop with all the right toppings. You had to do the work, to made space in your existing relationships for new ones. Then you dated like normal people (not both of you together, not looking for insta-marriage) and you might get lucky. You might find someone everything clicked with.

UH’s wanted to know that things would ‘fit’. They didn’t want to ‘disrupt’ their existing relationship, cared more about protecting that relationship than the hypothetical person they were looking for. They wouldn’t treat that person as a partner in their own right, someone you built a new relationship with. Not an appendage to your existing relationship. Emeka was done with the whole lot of them.

Scrolling down, the intentional community discussion was still going strong. Looked like they had a good dozen folks saying they would be on board with a community somewhere if they could make it work. Emeka didn’t know how they could do it. They committed to walking away from everything so they could make a life with all-but strangers. But hey, if it worked for them.

Something about that pulled him up. The UHs didn’t expect to make any changes, they expected whoever they met to fit with them. But these intentional community folks were doing the exact opposite. They were making a commitment to each other, making all the room in the world. All they knew about the others was they wanted the same thing, to make this community happen. Could you do the same with a family? On a smaller scale, of course. Could a handful of folks come together, commit to each other, make room in their lives. Could they build a family?


I know it’s been a slow build up, but we finished the ki part of this season. Things are about to start moving.

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