Sometimes somebody is born outside the mainstream narrative of their society, but lives in circumstances close enough to it that they think it’s possible for them to fit in if they try hard enough. And some people live in circumstances so wildly outside their society’s mainstream narrative that they are not concerned with trying to fit in the narrative.
As I discussed last week, my parents are never-married, white, middle-class, landlady-and-tenant. There is simply no place for our family in the mainstream narrative of the United States – they don’t fit the narrative for white middle-class people, and they don’t fit the narrative for people who have children out of wedlock, and they don’t even fit the narrative of landladies and tenants. While there are times when I do try to fit in, sometimes for emotional reasons, sometimes for Machiavellian reasons, I do not feel I have to fit in if I don’t want to.
One thing I notice about fiction is that relationships which best fit the ‘ideal’ (in the United States, white, married, romantic, faithful, middle-class, etc.) are depicted as being the most stable and happy, whereas relationships which stray from that ideal are more likely to be filled with melodrama. For example, if my parents were in a soap opera, the writers would treat them as oranges and juice out the angst.
In my experience, real life is often the opposite. My family has its share of drama – more than enough drama for several TV shows and some movies to boot – and my parents are just as inclined to get involved in the drama as anybody else in my family. Yet my parents’ relationship is just about the least dramatic in my family. They are one of the most stable couples I have ever met in my life. I think it is because they are not concerned with doing things the ‘proper’ way and simply found an arrangement which works for them, thus lack of drama. On the other hand, the couples in my family which make lots of drama together tend to be the ones who are aspiring to be whatever they think the social ideal is – ‘I won’t leave him because a husband and a wife should stick together’ ‘We need to get married because I’m pregnant’ and so forth.
I think my background is partially why my asexuality has never caused me angst. Sure, it took me years to finally come around to identifying as asexual, but even before I identified as asexual I felt my lack of sexual feelings/activity was okay. I never intended to marry (after all, things seemed to have worked out better for my parents than most couples who do marry). And generally, because I have do not feel bound to follow the mainstream social narrative, I feel free to make of life what I want.
Choosing not to get married and having me out of wedlock is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me.