Among the first elves who awoke in Cuiviénen, only one devised structures of wood and stone large enough to dwell in. She was called Ontamë, the Mason, and she delighted in all that sprung from beneath her feet. Only Mahtan’s love of the earth rivaled her own and the two were wed on the shores of the Sea of Helcar beneath the stars.
She journeyed to the Blessed Lands with the Host of Finwë and set to work building great towers, halls, courtyards, and palaces as soon as she arrived on its shores.
In Valinor she taught many in the ways of masonry and founded a school of architecture in Tirion. Chief among her students were Anairë, wife of Fingolfin and their son Turgon. As well as Finrod, and Galadriel of the house of Finarfin. And later her great grandson Celebrimbor.
She bore one child, Nerdanel who wed Fëanor the only son of Finwë and Míriel Serindë. Together they gifted Ontamë with seven grandchildren whom she adored. She was a doting grandmother who nurtured curiosity and a love of the arts in her grandsons. And they loved her as if she were a second mother.
Celegorm was most alike her in mood and Caranthir the most alike in face.
She remained in Tirion with her husband and daughter, and did not return to Middle Earth with the host of Noldor after the Darkening.
Some of y’all really can’t accept that Azula knew deep down that her mother loved her because in order to do that you have to recognize that Azula’s problems stemmed from her own inability to love herself as a person. Yes her issues with her mother were hugely related to her problems but the core of it was that she saw herself as a monster. (Which works as a contrast to Zuko who blamed himself for the fact that Ozai didn’t love him.)
A good ship is like a relationship, it’s built on fundamental building blocks, and by understanding these blocks, we as writers can construct relationships that feel real and dynamic. There are four primary components to a ship: Propinquity, Compatibility, Progression, and Longevity.
Propinquity measures familiarity. How comfortable they are together, how long they’ve known each other, how well they know each other. Characters with a high propinquity spend a lot of time together, see each other often, exist within the same social circles, are unable to avoid each other, and may have known each other for many years. This is why many popular ships are teammates, friends, and coworkers, as these are people they interact with often. In a period drama, a well-to-do lady might fall for the roguish ne’er-do-well noble who runs in the same social circle as her, or she might fall for the stable boy who tends to her family’s horses. In either case, it is a man she is quite familiar with, and has a hard time avoiding interactions with.
Compatibility measures how well a pair can get along. However Compatibility is hard to measure in one grand concept without breaking it down into its components.
Commonality measures how alike two lovers are. Two Idiots/One Braincell is a ship dynamic built on both lovers being similar. Ships with Belligerent Sexual Tension involve pairing two likewise stubborn and argumentative people, using their similarities to create tension between them.
Cooperation measures how well peace between them can be maintained. Opposites Attract ships heavily rely on the couple trusting and working well together to make up for their lack of commonality and clashing interests.
Progression is more of a literary tool than something that can be applied to real life relationships. It boils down to the simple question: are they better for knowing each other? A good ship should play an important role in each other's character development. An intelligent cynic who dismisses love as a fairy tale needs a hopeless romantic idiot to prove that love's not so impossible, while giving them an endearing idiot for them to take care of and scold for being so foolish and reckless.
Longevity measures whether they can maintain a long lasting bond or if their relationship is a ticking clock. Do they have compatible life goals and desires? Do their desires align with one another or does one's happiness cost the other their own fulfillment? While not all couples or people desire long-term relationships, the desire with many ships is reaching that happily ever after. As such, a good couple needs to be able to last that long.
Let's go over some ships as an example.
Klance from Voltron: Legendary Defender has high propinquity. They're teammates and friends, plus they're old classmates with a preexisting relationship. Their commonality is low but not non-existent. They're both from Earth, they're both pilots, both of them look up to Shiro, and they are both competitive. Their cooperation is much higher, as they're able to go from bickering to working together rather quickly. Some of their most romantically coded scenes have Keith and Lance helping each other’s progress in their character arcs. While we know little of their ultimate life goals, knowing that Keith stayed on with the Blade of Marmora and Lance wanted to be a pilot, it stands to reason that they could have maintained a long distance relationship until they both felt ready to settle down.
Kiribaku from My Hero Acadmeia are classmates and live next to each other in the dorms, giving them a high propinquity. Bakugou also trusts and respects Kirishima more than most people. Kirishima is the only person who can save Bakugou without bruising his ego in the process. In terms of compatibility, they rank high in both commonality and cooperation. They work well together and share enough similarities to be on the same level about most subjects. Their progression is incredible, as Kirishima has helped Bakugou to become nicer and more cooperative with his classmates, while Bakugou’s brash pep talks gave Kirishima the push he needed to reach a new level as a hero. Finally, their longevity is rather solid. They’re going into the same profession, they get along well enough that they could easily live together, and they’re not annoying or fighting each other constantly that would make a long-lasting marriage fall apart.
Aang and Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender are friends and teammates. They spend every day together for almost an entire year and face many enemies together, so the trust and friendship between them is high despite knowing each other for less than a year by the series’ end. They’re highly compatible, sharing belief in love, destiny, hope, spirits, fortunes, and other such things. They’re also very cooperative, as they rarely ever bicker with each other and work well as a team. That being said, they don’t actively play a part in each other’s character progression. Katara’s character arc is mostly about coming into her own as a waterbender and as the show went on, grieving the loss of her mother. But aside from sneakily teaching Katara what he learned at night, Aang doesn’t have a direct hand in this character arc. Zuko does, since he helps her track down the man who killed her mother. Meanwhile, Aang’s arc is to stop running away from his responsibilities and forge his own path as the avatar. While Katara offers a shoulder to lean on, she does not play as active of a role in Aang’s character arc as Guru Patik, Zuko, Toph, and his past lives. She could be a nag telling Aang to practice or take things seriously, but her role in Aang’s arc is more passive and supportive than direct. However, Longevity is a proven fact, since they got married and had children in Legend of Korra, and the siblings never mention their parents fighting to the best of my memory.
Ted and Robin from How I Met Your Mother are friends and enjoy each other’s company, which speaks well for their propinquity. They’re a fairly even blend of similar and opposite in commonality, but their cooperation is good enough to make up for any strong personality differences. They fit the archetype of the cynical love forsaken woman and the hopeless romantic idiot man, and could potentially make that work. But the biggest hurdle is that they don’t clear Longevity. Robin is happy with her bachelorette lifestyle. She’s focused on her career, and she doesn’t have a problem with moving away to chase her dreams. This is even part of what destroys her marriage in the finale. She just couldn’t be held down in one place. Life is an adventure, and Robin wasn’t content to stay in one place for the rest of her life. Ted meanwhile wanted the exact opposite. To set down roots and build a life together. To raise kids and have many years of wedded bliss. Their longevity life goals just don’t work. One of them would have been miserable to make the other happy.
Hopefully, this will help you with creating your own romances and ships in your own stories. As we saw with Kataang, a couple does not need all four things to be a successful ship. Meanwhile, Ted and Robin prove that Longevity is often the leg a ship stands on. Without it, a ship cannot sail without falling apart in the harbor. No amount of chemistry and compatibility can compensate for having clashing life goals.
LETTERS TO MY MOTHER ABOUT FRENCH BRAIDS & OTHER ASSORTED METAPHORS, by @boysaints, published in Ang(st) Zine
[transcript: elementary school mornings, our paper-doll bodies strung out on the laundry lines / always one foot out the door / half a bagel stuffed in my mouth / converse untied & on the wrong feet / those days when you switched between three languages so fast / it gave me whiplash / when i got dressed in the dark, put my shirt on backwards / more often than not / fourth grade, you brushed my hair / divided it into two neat sections, somehow always unraveled by / the end of the day / elementary school mornings, we sang / two different melodies / as we scrambled to find another hair tie / did you do your homework, kanna? did you remember / to pack your lunch? / secret #1: i regret the arguments, mama / yelling whenever the comb’s teeth bit into my scalp, whenever the braids didn’t turn out the way i’d imagined / (i don’t remember why / i couldn’t say sorry) / now, i stand at the window / i rinse my cereal bowl / i tug on my ponytail & try not to think about growing up / about our fights / my slammed doors / the fact that you are forty steps away & i will never know / how to say goodbye / now, the summer is sharp enough / to slice through my toothpick-thin bones / the fat bodies of bumblebees hum lazily in / the back garden / now, we sit in almost-silence / your tea / my coffee / this quiet song we share / in the white spooling from your temples / in the smell of henna on a saturday morning / in our tangled hair, the generations of women staring back at us through / the bathwater / secret #2: i miss crawling into your bed after every nightmare / i miss letting you do my makeup / i miss letting you hold me, mama. / (i’m still young, but not young enough / to be coddled / i’m still young, but not young enough / to need spoonfeeding / not young enough to admit / i still need you) / mom, i miss / myself. / i think that’s the real problem, ma / that i grew up (too fast, always too fast) & i don’t know who i am / anymore / secret #3: i wish i had told you how my day went. i wish i had been honest when i had the chance. / is it too late to try again, mom? would you do my hair if / i asked nicely? / if i never complained / again? / would you let me be your baby until / i feel old enough to move on? / secret #4, #5, #6: / my mother doesn’t sit still long enough / to breathe. / my mother is a scientific marvel, practical to a fault / i’ve never known how to be / without the mathematics of her love. / the late nights / the red eyes / the endless working & calculating long after everyone else has fallen asleep / my mother & her plastic hairbrush / my mother & her watercolor tears / my mother & her endless determination / (i’m not old, but i’m old enough to realize this. i’m not old, but i’m old enough to know that there is so much in her / that she has given so much / away / old enough to admit / i still need her) / now, i dream / we’ll fold laundry together on a sunday afternoon / now, i dream / the world no longer holds a knife to my throat, my hair still / a frizzy cloud around me / now, i dream / i’ll say: i love you / i miss you / i’m ready to come back to myself. / i’ll say: i’m learning to love, mom / all your my our split ends & sharp edges / i’m learning to love, mom / i’m learning to sing along.
1. "I don't want your love unless you know I am repulsive, and love me even as you know it." (georges bataille, from 'my mother')
2. "Finally, in a low whisper, he said, "I think I might be a terrible person." For a split second I believe him - I thought he was about to confess to a crime, maybe murder. Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people. But we only reveal this before asking someone to love us. It is a kind of undressing." (miranda july, from 'the first bad man')
3. "I also learned the word dendrochronology—analyzing the patterns of tree rings to know everything that has ever happened to a tree. This is how I love you. I am peeling back my skin, layer by layer, so you will finally know everything inside me." (roxanne gay, from 'strange gods')
So, my mother and I have fought a lot when it comes to LGBTQA things. A lot of it has to do with her having been raised Southern Baptist, and also with her having been a bona fide hippie when she was younger and had raised her children to think for themselves.
When I found out what aromanticism is, it was seriously the most freeing experience in my life. When it came to coming out to my mother, however, I was scared.
See, my mother always supported and understood about my lack of interest in dating or meeting someone. Always. She would tell me how when she was my age, she related.
I knew that if I just went to her and simply told her that I was not getting married or the like, ever, she would have said sure, probably try to reassure me that one day I’ll ‘meet the right person’, but she wouldn’t ever push the issue.
My fear was that if I tried to label it and explain the actual thing of it, she wouldn’t understand, dismiss it as a new-age thing, or worse, tell me I’m wrong and set out to prove it by trying to get me to meet people.
So, I was very happy and surprised when she actually listened and said okay. Her road to full understanding and acceptance was a long one though.
I could see the struggle in her eyes when I talked about it or even referenced it. I caught her once reading some article about it. She would talk to my older sister some about it when I came out to her too, and I could see her get visibly frustrated when my sister started down a road of “Well, she’s still young, you know...”
Then one day, almost a year later, I come walking into her kitchen, and in greeting, she looked me dead in the eye and said seriously, “I think Sherlock Holmes was aromantic.”
My mother, who loves the books, went through and re-read them and wrote down all the evidence she found to support him as aromantic. That apparently had sent her down a character/aro rabbit hole, and she had a whole page in that notebook of hers listing other characters she very adamantly thought were aromantic and why. (Captain Jack Sparrow and Castiel included.)
It was such a fucking touching moment for me, and I had to literally hold back tears as she went full-on obsessed-fan-mode in showing me her research.
That wasn’t the best to come though:
It had taken her that time to wrap her head around it, but during her journey, she learned of other ID-possibilities out in the world.
I took her out on her birthday not long after, and she gave me the biggest smile and told me that, at age 65, she felt a validation and freedom she didn’t know existed. That she could now look back on her life, on all the men, the confusion, the broken hearts, the tangled love, and so many times when she thought she was made wrong or something, and felt this huge weight lifted off of her.
She told me she was demisexual.
Actual interaction during a recent family get-together:
Ignorant relative: Yeah-huh! Aunt, didn’t your daughter turn you... not gay, but one of them weird ones.
My mother, without missing a beat and with a straight face: No. She just warned us that whatever cold-heartedness you think I have, she has in spades.