He and I used to go to the same karaoke bar. A guitarist in a band, he had flowing curls and a devil-may-care manner about him. So I went ahead and did what any woman with rock n’ roll dreams would. I slept with him.
We had a pub dinner together some time afterwards and that’s where it died. We couldn’t talk to each other. I found his dimensions singular, even if he did play a damn fine cover of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” I’m not sure what he thought about me. Pretentious? Annoying? Eventually we fell into mild irritation, then apathy.
C’est la vie. These things are short lived, thank goodness.
From a TCK perspective relationships can be nebulous, difficult, the very definition of “it’s complicated”. Even writing this piece is not easy, as I try hard not to misstep. It’s because we are limitless, so many combinations, an identity composed of many identities, absolutely impossible to generalize. As I write I am wondering; how many of you are LGBTQ? Will your parents be involved in the process of choosing your spouse? Do you go from one thrilling encounter to the next, do you not date at all? The TCK spectrum of social, cultural, sub-cultural and sexual identities is an extraordinary galaxy.
From my small corner, I have friends who are in arranged marriages, elaborate tales of parents-meet-parents-meets-boy-meets-girl.
These relationships are kind, loving, respectful and thriving.
I also have same-sex friends who are in a committed relationship with one another, whose big, transcendent love racks up frequent flier miles due to them being continents apart.
Their relationship is kind, loving, respectful and thriving.
And don’t get me started on polygyny, polyamory and other combinations – they work too (although it requires serious time management skills).
When talking about love across countries, cultures and identities the only certainty is infinity.
There is no template, no script to follow.
So in all this, what can be said about relationships, particularly relationships that TCK’s may find themselves in?
Well, from my perspective (and please keep in mind, it’s only one way of looking at things) I’ve found that curiosity is a real asset.
Strange, isn’t it? But hear me out.
Curiosity is the first step on the path. You need it to start a conversation, to open a door, to have adventures. Opening doors, crossing boundaries, exploring – it’s what we know, right?
Curiosity is vital to being a part of the world, and I don’t know any TCK who thinks, “I wish my world was smaller. Must remember to build that wall.” You may as well burn your passport.
So don’t waste time with anyone who wants to make your world small. Don’t spend time with those who are not curious, who aren’t interested, who won’t see possibilities and be excited by them.
I said that there’s no template. However, there are some attributes and philosophies that can help smooth the way.
Open-mindedness. The celebration of growth. A willingness to embrace change. Largeness of heart. Having intelligent, informed, passionate conversations. Being fascinated by the world and wanting to be a part of it. These are all good places to start.
On a personal note, I am engaged to a non-TCK, so this is possible even if your significant other grew up completely differently from you. It’s a sturdy and joyful relationship, one which has weathered frustrations, tragedies and setbacks. We love (and like) one another very much.
It is also big and generous, like a sprawling tree with deep roots and far-reaching branches. We know that we are home to one another. We also know that we can journey far away and have our own adventures, be our own selves. I am fortunate knowing that I can hop on a plane and meet with old friends without fearing the cold tug of possession, without the shadow of someone else’s smallness over me. My world is large, and my relationship celebrates that.
A relationship is not a fortress to protect you from the world. It is not a shield, or a line in the sand.
A good relationship helps you discover the world and be more alive within it.
I’d like to steal a little from Walt Whitman and say that you are large. You contain multitudes.
So why be with anyone who would make you less?