Friday, October 16, 2009

The nostalgia of being 21.

After perhaps a little too much thinking I've come to the conclusion that 21sts are a funny stage in life. They are such a 'right of passage' and when I was young I spent so many years wondering what I would be like when I was that old. I wondered what kind of person I would be, where I would be living, what I would be doing, all that kind of stuff, but I guess most of all I wondered what my boyfriend would be like.

It turns out she is gorgeous! It also turns out that nothing that I planned or thought ever ended up how I expected. In fact, when I was about 11, being a little smart ass kid and all, I wrote this list of how I wanted my life to be when I grew up. I signed it, dated it, and gave it to one of my best friend's Mum. Not such a smart idea. Of course she saved it for my 21st and gave the 'document' to me, framed and all, to read out in front of everyone when speech time came around.

It was quite funny what I had written. Ammoung other things I wanted to get married in my home town at the tender age of 21 (that's scary!), spend my days as a marine biologist who specialises in dolphins, and retire to a Christian settlement with my best friend to spend my last few days writing sweet songs and poems. Oh the idealism of being 11. I had everything planned out, I even (although for some strange reason it wasn't on the list even though I clearly remember writing it) was convinced that I would marry my childhood crush, the guy who I couldn't take my eye off for too many years and was too scared to talk to.

Now this list of wishes and hopes for a good life made me realise two things. First of all, change is inevitable. It doesn't matter how much you plan and how many hours you spend thinking, wondering; nothing is going to stay the same. People change, ideas change, ambitions change, and there is no point in fighting this. I may not be the person I thought I was going to be, but I sure am happy with the 21 years I've had so far. Gosh, I never in my wildest dreams thought that life would be as it is now but that's ok. We adapt. We all do, no matter what circumstances we are in, everybody has the ability to change and what I'm learning is that perhaps one of the greatest abilities one can have; is to be open to change.

The other thing that I realised is to do with an old friend of mine. In my 'life statement', all most every goal/ambition had the mention of this friend and how we both wanted to do all these amazing things. I thought that we had a friendship which was invincible and could stand the test of time and change. Maybe we still do. But now that I am with my partner I am almost too scared to talk to her. Maybe it is my own paranoia but I am really worried that she wont accept us, as her (and her family) are strongly Christian. It's not that I don't believe in God, because I do, it's just that when I was younger (around the same age as when I wrote that list) I remember having a conversation with her and her mum that now haunts me.

The conversation took place when I was visiting her in Auckland, and we were driving somewhere in the car. Talkback radio was on and the hosts were discussing the idea of civil unions. Being my opinionated and naieve self, I said to the others that I don't see why people shouldn't be allowed to have a civil union. I could not see why it would be a problem, and thought that people should be able to love who they like. After all, love is one of the most natural human instincts. I was not prepared in any way for the response I was about to recieve.

I had made the comment in such an innocent way, really. It was mainly just banter in response to the radio. I will never forget though, being told that I was wrong. I was actually told that it is absolutely wrong in every single way for two people of the same sex to have a relationship together and to even concider having a civil union, let alone think about having a family together. The basis for this her Mum said, was that God created men and women to have a family and that that was the only way it should be. It would be unnatural and wrong to go against that order and that it would affect the whole world order if gay people were to start living together and to bring up children. Children would get the wrong ideas and not be happy or wholesome and it would affect their way of thinking. Things could only be right, she said, if a male and a female were together.

I was dumbstruck. Wasn't expecting that lecture at all. It shattered my innocent thinking and pulled me into what is perhaps the big wide world. Now don't get me wrong, I still love that family and respect their beliefs, but I was just left wondering why things had to be like that and who should decide what is right and what is wrong and on what basis do others have to judge anothers happiness and way of life. I have not spoken to that friend in a while, I don't want to lie to her about my relationship if I see her, that would contradicting my way of thinking. But I don't know if I could bring myself to confront her, not when those words are so vividly etched into my mind.

Although my 21st did bring up this issue and made me very sad at the thought of losing such a dear friend, especially when I believed for so long that we would live happily married next door to each other with husbands and kids, it did make me happy for so many more reasons. My family and friends were all there to celebrate with me, and they all realised that life has changed since I wrote that list, and that I have changed too. They all accept me for who I am, and call my partner one of the family. In fact, they were so accepting of myself and my sexuality that amoungst the wish list and the speeches that night, I actually forgot to thank everyone for just letting me be me.

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