Monday, November 17, 2008

Nature and Nurture

Fuckpolitness's lovely comment there (yay!) set me one wondering : how does one become who we are?
How did I apparently turn out different from a lot of the girls I know?
How come I don't want to run to anyone for help?

I'd think it's all in the luck of the draw (that would be the nature issue) but it's probably much more likely to be the environment you've had to live in.

I've had an extremely privileged life.

I come from a multicultural family, to start off with. I do believe that helps with openness, because there are always a lot of issues to resolve within yourself, so you can't just take things for granted.
My French classmates know where they're from, who they are, where they'll go (well, usually). I never have. I'm not French, not British, not American, definitely not Swedish, so I've always wondered where I stood.

My family isn't particularly conventional or unconventional.
My father is American by choice, swedish american by inheritance, born and raised in France.
He left for America for university at eighteen, at which point my swedish grandmother and alcoholic artist american grandfather divorced. That would be in the early seventies, when it definitely wasn't fashionable in France.
My grandmother moved down South and never remarried. One of her exes is a good family friend. She set up her business, made her own life. A good example. Now she's a tough old lady whom I suspect of waiting for my marriage eagerly because my parents pulled a fast one and got married in the Caribbean, with me as an attendee, when I was one.
My grandfather moved down here to live with us last year. I never got on with him much, now he's losing it,probably because of the alcohol abuse, so I do my best to be nice. But he's a stubborn old dude,(like the rest of the family) and when he still had it I suspected him of looking down on me because I was a girl. Most people preferred my younger brother when i was a kid, because he was outgoing and charming, when I was shy and always had my nose stuck in a book-but I suspected ulterior motives^^
In the meantime, my dad lived all over the place-Kentucky, LA for a few years when he had to give up uni because they cut his job as a French teaching assistant(he tells us great stories about that time), he was a truckdriver in France and Europe, then one day finally got an office job in England, met my mother, and bam! A couple of years later I turned up :)
My mother once said she was surprised my father had turned out so normal.
My mother was very English. A horsey girl, one of the eighties working girls. When we all moved here she took a part-time job as an accountant, and on the side she organises european exchanges, is boss of an association that half-runs the local music school, finds time to play music in the meantime and work the horse. My mother is a nut. She never quite grew up, which is why all my friends love her.
So no-one ever told me women couldn't do it.
I had a very conflictual relationship with my dad for a long time. We're very similar. But he had hepatitis for most of my life-he's been cured for a few years now-and the treatment was very heavy, and changed him a lot. He was constantly on a short fuse. But I was teenaged and merciless, and far too preoccupied with myself to care about such futile things^^.
To be fair, he likes to have his own way, like the rest of us, and has as quick a temper as mine. The shouting matches in our house were epic^^I feel sorry for my mother now, because she had to bear the brunt of both our tempers. She doesn't get angry-much. In a household where tempers are famously quick, I'd say she's at a disadvantage. Except that when she's really mad, we all run for cover.
There's another point; my father and I are just as bad, so why couldn't we be just as good?
I'd love to have his ease of speech, his immediate friendliness. I still remember when we celebrated his fiftieth, the year before I started high school. There were sooo many people.
My mother knows absolutely everyone. I'd often meet people of all ages, and they'd know my mother. I still do. I ran into a friend at a concert a couple weeks ago, he invited me to the concert his band is particpating in in a few weeks, turns out my mother's organising it.

One of her best friends makes me laugh a lot. She's a fifty-odd lesbian with a fantastic sense of humour. I know this doesn't seem to have much to do with my family, but I know I grew up hearing my mother talking about the friends back in England, the gay friends who had just bought a house together, my dad's best friend was married to a black woman and their daughter is his goddaughter-I see a lot about white people talking about their black friend, or their gay friend, on the internet, and it's seen as posing. But I grew up like this, and none of it seemed strange. When I think of it, yeah I have black friends and gay friends and asian friends and whatnot. But I have to stop and think about it because their "difference" isn't what is going to come to my mind first. Take one of my black mates-the first thing I'd tell anyone about him is that's he really cute, he's fun, he's in his third year of history. Oh yeah, he's black. So what?

Damn, I'm late, and supposed to be meeting someone for coffee. More later.

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