Homogeneity

Western-Balkans-map
" …who really knows what love is?"

We speak of homes as if the inhabitants comprised a homogeneous whole, when quite the opposite seems more likely. Sure, we might call ourselves a family, but nearly twenty percent of those families satisfy the definition of blended, step-siblings cohabiting or nearly steps, the adults not formally related yet, if ever. Even within directly related family units, significant differences exist. The extroverts drive the introverts crazy and vice versa. The smart kids dominate the dumber ones. The older kids lord over their younger siblings. Parents get gamed into paradoxical proclamations. Within each family unit, a tacit cultural map very similar to The Balkans persists, contradicting the apparent surface homogeneity of the group.

I was my family's 'sport,' a rose gardening term referring to the odd sprout which does not mirror a plant's other characteristics.
I feel fairly confident that each of my siblings felt every bit the sport as well. Our parents were just kids when they started our family, inexperienced in most of the skills necessary to successfully raise their family and working from different templates absorbed from their earlier experiences of family. I cannot imagine any scenario less likely to produce consistent, let alone positive, results. Most manage to succeed but few, probably none, engineer anything like an ideal homogeneity.

The subtle battling sometimes turns into open hostilities, hurting feelings and more. Many brick walls emerge to threaten tranquility and rather than ameliorate over time, some seem to fester into unresolvable enmity. There are moments, precious and few, where some believable semblance of true harmony emerges, but eternal vigilance seems well advised. Some minor archduke gets assassinated and a world war erupts. A practical joke to one evokes cannon fire from another. The kids eventually grow up and flee the nest, leaving two stranger to reintroduce themselves to each other.

Each individual has laid claim to their territory and everyone understands the boundaries. Everyone knows which chair to sit in at table and who has permanent dibs on which part of the TV couch. Bathroom habits, strange as they might seem, are respected without comment. Everyone's gotten over the fact that one of the family simply cannot shower without utterly exhausting the hot water tank. Nobody even tries to talk them out of that behavior anymore, having tired of blue-faced exposition. A visitor might inadvertently sit in dad's chair, eliciting a ripple of nervous twittering from the family. A rough rhythm emerges from this apparent chaos. Everyone feels at home there.

Behind that imposing front door on the front porch of every idealized home lies a surprising and confusing world ruled by some force undefined. Never mind the details. They hardly matter. Who's in today and who's out? What questionable past act still courses through the veins? What mysteries persist? What absolutely cannot be talked about and out? Everyone well understands that under no circumstances should the peanut butter supply ever run dry, given big brother's terrified and terrifying response the last time that happened. We avoid life and death conflict, especially when the provocation only seems life-or-death to one. We love our home and our imagined Homogeneity, but as the old show tune wondered, who really knows what love is?

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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