Sometimes, it's hard for me to write new stuff in light of things that I've already written. It's kind of a pernicious kind of writer's block, beginning when I have a hard time putting down what I want to talk about (or even knowing what I want to talk about), continuing when I start reading over all these things I've already written, then ending when I become convinced that I'm never going to be able to write anything better. I guess it's sort of conservative in nature, which is funny since I don't think of myself as particularly conservative, but it's all about the past being better--or at least better described.
I mention this because my head has been swirling with thoughts about family ever since James and I got back from a reunion for his mom's side of the family, immediately followed by a wedding between two of my friends and coworkers. But all I can think about is this old thing I wrote back in my livejournal days, coincidentally, also after meeting a bunch of James' mom's side of the family. Back then, I was much more worried about their liking me than I was this time--maybe because I'd already met (most of) them this time, or maybe because I feel more like James and I are a real family than I did before and thus am more inherently comfortable with people evaluating our relationship. Or something. I'm not sure, but even though I definitely still wanted them to like me, it felt much less like the full-blown audition I was worried about before.
But the family thoughts swirling around in my head: James and I are both happy spending our lives together without formalizing/legislating/defining our relationship with the all-important (to some) marriage license, but whenever I'm around a lot of family or at weddings, I wonder if people don't consider us our own family since we've never gone through the conventional motions. Even more so because we don't plan to have children. It seems like many people conceive of you as a family once you get married and intend to propagate, but is that really what family means?
You certainly can't choose the family that's come before you, but what is your own, constructed family if not the people who you decide you're going to spend your life with? It doesn't seem to me that marriage (or even a romantic relationship, necessarily) is a obligatory component of family. Thoughts, anyone?