Last night we celebrated the eighth birthday of Ben's niece, Brylea. There is a significance surrounding Brylea's age because in the Mormon faith a child is baptized at eight. Ben's family members are Mormon fundamentalists (not to be confused with the FLDS sect), and they are extremely excited about the event. I was just excited to see a kid open presents...
I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but Ben's family believes in the opposite of the things I do (in almost all instances). Anytime politics are mentioned, I keep my mouth shut. Ben's mom recently brought up the California law that mandates teaching LGBT history, and immediately stated, "I just hope this doesn't get in the way of teaching about Caucasian contributions." With her delightful comment my head was immediately filled with words like racism, white-supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, and the like, but I just listened.
I fear that one day the listening will stop, and inevitable conversations will have to occur- I am avoiding that day with all of my might.
You see, when it comes to topics like abortion and same-sex marriage, these things aren't just parlor talk. I have experienced sexual assault and my best friend is gay. When the topic of "welfare moms" comes up, I think of the year we spent on welfare. I think of "Sub For Santa," visits to the welfare office, and the wonderful job placement program that found employment for my mom (she worked her way up from a secretary to the president of the company). I am more than willing to lose relationships when it comes to disagreements on certain topics, and whether you believe that makes me irrational or not, it is the truth.
I am avoiding the topics that mean the most to me, because I love Ben's family. I love his nieces and nephews. I love his cousins, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I love them so much that I care what they think. Ben's grandpa looked me square in the eyes last night, and told me he loved me. I melted inside. Just mentioning his grandpa and grandma makes me feel nice.
After the birthday party, we were sitting around talking about taking a girl's trip to Vegas, and I was genuinely excited about the idea of spending time with Ben's sister, Merrilea, and his sister-in-laws, Caitlin and Kate. Not surprisingly, the topics of gambling, smoking, drinking, and free porn on the strip came up. I assured them that we could avoid all of the things that make them uncomfortable, and two of the girls explained that they are comfortable with gambling, and might even play some slots. There were some reasoned explanations about the complexity of life, and how their moral code means vigilance, but they don't expect insulation; comments like that give me hope, comments like that make me feel comfortable.
I don't have sisters, and my family is bat shit crazy, so it is nice to spend time with people that are calm, nice, and loving. Ben's family is extremely normal. Ben's family is extremely welcoming to me.
Even though we couldn't be more different if we tried, I am excited to have girls that I can call my sisters. I hope that the listening never stops, and that the day I start talking, their listening starts.