Building Family, S1 E5

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Emeka knew what he wanted to do. Or he thought he did. He’d learned the hard way not to put his thoughts public until he’d double-checked them in private. So he opened up a blank word doc and titled it ‘Intentional Family.’ It takes him a couple of minutes to get all his thoughts down, just a big burst of words. Then he started organizing him, making sure he had everything. The importance of personal commitment to any family, that if people were willing to commit to each other and an intentional community, why couldn’t they commit to being family together. His interest in meeting folks willing to make such a commitment. A bit of info about himself and his life, why he wanted to do this. Two read-throughs, a quick run through Grammarly, and he had something he could put up in public.

He hopped back on Black & Poly. Given the interest in intentional communities, he figured folks there would be receptive.

Copy, paste, and… the new post at the top of the feed caught his eye. “The Surprising Predictor of Who We Love.” The article looked like typical clickbait, but the poster — someone he didn’t know well — had given a short summary. Supposedly, the number one predictor of who you would love was geography — who were you close enough to meet and get to know.

Emeka wasn’t looking to fall in love, per se. There were lots of ways to love, and right now, he was looking more for comfort-love of family than stars and fireworks. But the point was the same, wasn’t it? Distance mattered, and if he wanted this to work, he needed to look for people who lived nearby. After thinking about it, he pulled up another polyamory group, one for his metro area. It was a much smaller group, but the people might be able to connect with him. He took a deep breath and posted it. Fingers crossed.

Against his own better judgment, he camped on the post, waiting for responses. To his surprise, they came quickly. Within five minutes, he had five replies to his post, and a couple of those replies had conversations developing. That, at least, was good.

The bad part was the kind of responses he was getting. One response was an obvious joke response. The other four were warnings: that he was inviting abusers to take advantage of him, or how could he consider getting involved with people he didn’t know? A few of the conversations were talking like he was a five-year-old who had never heard of ‘stranger danger.’

Disgusted, he closed up Facebook. He didn’t need negativity and condescension. He wasn’t going to subject himself to any more of that BS. Maybe he should check out the reviews on the new EA game. It was probably another reboot, but there might be something interesting enough to make it worth the money.

He was settling in to watch a long YouTube review when the phone rang. After checking the number, he answered with a smile. “Jenna! What’s up? I didn’t expect to hear from you till Friday.”

“Yeah, well, I saw your post and was worried. What the hell are you thinking, Emeka?”

In a small one-bedroom apartment on the other side of town, Orli wanted to hang up on her sister. She really wanted to hang up on her sister. But you don’t abandon family. Especially when the family in question was the only family you had left.

Even when said family was rubbing salt in old wounds and not even noticing. “Sis, I love you. And I want you to be happy.”

“But you also want me to shut the hell up?”

“Well… kind of?”

“I’m sorry, Ori. I shouldn’t let our parents being asses get to me, even if they are insulting my metamour. And I know you have better things to do than listen to me kvetch about my weird relationships.”

“It’s not weird! Just because you are doing something different doesn’t make it weird or wrong.”

It took a bit longer, but eventually, Orli managed to say goodbye and go back to bills.

Their parent’s anniversary was coming up. It wasn’t marked on the calendar, but the date might as well have glowed eye-searing red for all Orli could miss it. Should she even bother sending a card this year? It wasn’t like they even admitted she existed any longer.

Sighing, feeling her belly burn, warning her of a panic attack, Orli picked the phone up and called her sister back. “You don’t know what you have. You don’t know what you could lose. Yes, they are short-sighted and judgemental. And I wish you could tell them to go jump in a lake. But they are the only parents we will ever have. It sucks that they won’t invite your… what, your metamour? But don’t burn that bridge. Just. Don’t.”

She hung up without waiting for a response. Any response at all would only make her hurt more.

She needed sleep. It was a school day tomorrow and then a full shift at work. But if she tried to sleep now, she’d fall right into nightmares. Instead, she decided to do some research. What in the world was a ‘metamour’? Orli had started lurking in a Facebook group about polyamory shortly after her sister came out to her. Time to re-check the group’s glossary.

The group kept a good glossary, and she seemed to be checking it once a week lately. ‘Metamour’ was someone dating the same person you were. Your partner’s other partner. Orli didn’t see why they needed a word for that, but okay.

She was about to click out of the group when she noticed the title of the top post. ‘Intentional family.’ Intrigued despite herself, she opened it up and started reading.

By the time she was done, she had tears in her eyes. Whoever this person was — and from the comments, they were getting a lot of flack — she heard them. Behind all their straight talk about the importance of commitment and the success of some intentional communities (whatever those were) was someone who shared her pain. Abandonment. Aloneness. The lack of the one thing you thought you could always depend on.

Family.