One by one the whole back-east side of Michael's family are finding us on facebook. I should say finding me, because he's deactivated his. He's working over 40 hours a week and carrying 12 units at school, he recognizes facebook as the time bandit it is, and I live there.
Maybe it's this way for all large families, or large families from the south, but I can not for the life of me keep straight who is who. It doesn't help that people change their names in the middle of their lives (Dickie became Richard and Hemon became Johnnie just two examples) or that each marriage comes with new kids and step-kids and then they grow up and have kids... Let's just say that from here it seems like there are a million of them. And they want to know about Michael and how his life turned out since none of them have seen him since he was a teenager. I'm the ambassador of that.
It started with his sister Kim, who I really like. She's funny and talkative, and she's only one person, so I can remember her. Aunt Rose writes to me, once again, one person. I can even remember that she's married to Richard (who used to be Dickie.) There's an Aunt Clemmie, who could forget that name? She's 78 or 79 and I haven't talked to her. My mother in law is known as Bootsie, not Wanda as I know her. I find myself trying to answer three part questions full of names and relationships that I just can't keep straight.
I'm not sure who it was, but Kim said that someone looked at my pictures and found one of them "scary." I would imagine that if a person who was a conservative Christian from Kentucky looked at my albums they would find most of my pictures scary. For the first time in forever I'm starting to care, at least a little, what strangers might think of me from reading my facebook. I'm not willing to edit myself or my life, but it's a new thought I simply haven't had up until now.
I'm not only not Christian, I'm not anything at all that you can identify and put in the "religious views" box. "Non Theist" isn't one of the choices that automatically pops up. I'm not a Pagan, not a Wiccan, but I have a giant Pentacle tattooed on my arm. Some would see that as a symbol that I am Satanic, but I don't believe in Satan any more than I believe in Jesus... Oh goodness.
Then there's my avid and dedicated fight for equality in marriage, and the huge number of dearly beloved Gay, Trans and Drag Queen friends on my friends list. I'm not sure, but I don't think there's a whole lot of that going on in Kentucky or South Carolina. What I mean is that I know there are Gay people everywhere (even in Iraq, although their president says there are "No Homosexuals here.") but I live an hour from San Francisco, where everyone can just be who they are, and if you did a poll most of my friends wouldn't have a clue what "Can you tone it down a bit?" means. Thank the Universe for that, I wouldn't be happy in a place where people were forced to try to fit into a mold to please their immediate community.
I'm not hesitant to celebrate even one of my friends, but I am a little scared about how I would feel reading questions about them. Not feel about me, or my friends but about the person asking the question; this is a family I married into and we're talking about a family I've collected through love and admiration for some years now.
And can we just talk about me for a minute? I am a middle-aged, heavily tattooed woman with blue and purple hair and a face full of metal. I know that's not the current look in Kentucky... What if we really do go visit there? I'm an amazing, strong, compassionate, dedicated, loyal, imaginative, creative and successful woman. I'm still wondering if they'd take one look at me and leave me at the airport. Not that Michael would have one minute of that, where he goes I go, but still.
It's just a new concept for me: Looking at who I am and appear to be and imagining how that might seem to people from an entirely different culture. I've never cared before, and now (because it matters so much to me what Michael's family thinks) all of a sudden I wonder how I look to the outside world.
For now I'm grateful to be living in my colorful and diverse part of the world, I'll worry about what other people think of me later. That's what Scarlet O'Hara did after all.