Our flatmate B is Scottish. She found her way to us when she was seeing/dating a guy who was living with us, Chief, who is also Scottish. She was very quiet and polite. We, Nick and I, tried to include her in stuff we did. We don’t have very many friends, we liked her and that’s just what we do. Chief went back to Scotland because his Australian work visa expired, and B stayed. With us. She left for a wee bit to go do her farm work for the extra visa time it would give her. And she came back. That was about a year ago. Now she’s part of the furniture. We adore her. Even thought she’s not so quiet or polite any more! She’s sassy and sarcastic and has even learned to punch Blondie when he eggs her on. And we love living with her. It truly does feel like she’s part of the family. And she seems more than willing to put up with us, even with my moods and the smell of Nick’s feet. She’s a star!
When we were talking about moving to China, she was naturally part of the discussion. Partly because we’re pretty open about the decisions we make as a couple and the process we go through to make them. And partly because her Australian work visa expires about the time that we were looking to move. She had no idea what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go after Aussie. We said to her, here’s a crazy idea: Come with us to China!
See, this is what we do. We collect family where ever we go. We don’t have wide circles of acquaintances or lots of friends. We prefer to settle down and take our time creating a community for ourselves out of people we trust, people we can welcome into our inner circle, people who celebrate our weirdness not love us despite it. I am naturally a very distrustful person. Not because I think people are bad. But because I know I’m a little (or a lot?!) off centre and that I’m not for everyone. And I get hurt easily. So I take my time getting to know someone before I open up. Its about being cautious for me, protecting myself. And when I learn enough to make me want to open up I’m in, hook line and sinker. Its pretty serious. Its family.
So when we put to B the idea of coming to China with us, she didn’t believe us. She thought we were being polite (you’d think by now she’d know I am NOT a polite-for-the-hell-of-it person!). She thought it was dumb that she was following us to China when we aren’t even her family. Aren’t we? What defines someone as being your family? For me, I define family as people in my life that I trust and that I have an unconditional bond with. B fits that criteria. Whether she came to China with us or not, she was a part of our family and our community. Which was why it was so natural for us to ask her to come with us. If she wanted to. And it seems she does!
She thinks we’re weird for essentially adopting her. Good weird, and weird nonetheless. And in moving to China with us, she is going to really get a taste for what our ‘weird’ version of family is. Because (drumroll please!) we will all be moving in with my parents! And they are the ones that Nick and I take most of our family cues from. They look after their own, fiercely and unconditionally. They don’t even think twice about taking in extra persons, especially if that person has a connection to one of us already. And they expect everyone to pitch in and look after each other. B has experienced that a little with Nick and I. And living with Mum and Dad too is going to kick it up a notch! We’re a family that always looks after each other and B is going to feel the full force of that once we get to China.
I know it’s not something that most people do. Or so I have been told. And I love the family and community that Nick and I have created, full of supportive, diverse, strong, wonderful people whom we love to pieces. Our motley family and we wouldn’t have it any other way.