Monday, February 02, 2009

Kin, Clan and Back Stabbers

The NYT found a trend .. or maybe just a circle of close friends.

Like Lili’s dolls, the circle that radiates out from this two-bedroom ranch house in the New Jersey suburb of Moorestown is a largely female world. Fran and her daughters spend much of their time outside school and work with a small group of other single mothers and their girls. Among them is Fran’s friend of 10 years, Nancy Clark. Fran is 49; Nancy is 50. Six years ago, they went together to China to adopt Lili and Nancy’s daughter Katelei, whom they called “salt-and-pepper twins” because Lili had fair skin and Katelei is darker.

What they've got are reasonably successful single women who have adopted daughters and decided to put off the husband thing until later ... or never.

They are friends, and also more than friends. The trips to the Outer Banks that Fran’s group takes represent a step toward an all-female, platonic, chosen extended family.

I myself think that the idea of 'Dad' or 'Father' is kind of important in a child's life - but plenty of people grow up without a father, or with guys who should never have been fathers; talking people who should have jumped off a cliff rather than procreate.

But as I read I thought that the ladies in the article have managed to reinvent the idea of a clan, with all of the disadvantages and none of the advantages.

You've got a large and diverse group of people that can help you, support and who will be there for you.

But you're stuck where you are - leaving the hollar city where your clan is based means leaving your entire network behind.  When you've got a husband life partner the 'where-thou-goest' rule comes into play: move to a new city and your core support system is right there, tagging along behind.

And .. your circle-of-friends don't have to help you or be your buddy.

A kin-based clan is family: you may not like Cousin John a whole bunch and you'd rather die than listen to Aunt Sarah's nth rehash of some complicated family business back in 197-friggin-8 but you've got a lot of reasons to be at their back and for them to be at yours.

All these ladies have is friendship.

And brother I've learned the hard way that some friends can be there for life and some can be liars and fakers and complete and utter back-stabbers.  You'll never know which they are until you're deep in the stuff and you reach out a hand .... and your lifeline is pulled out of reach.

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