Relationship dynamics have always fascinated me, both in real life and fictional settings.
After wrapping up four seasons of The Killing, I found myself drawn to The Fall. I didn’t realize until it began how similar the pacing is between the two; both are slow and methodical, built upon careful character development.
Ah Netflix, you know me so well.
During the first episode, I repeatedly kept thinking of this quote:
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” —Henry David Thoreau
Brilliantly played by Jamie Dornan, I watched the character of Paul Spector watching his family and I felt the same desperation to be away from all of them. While I don’t condone serial killers, neither can I stand stupidity. Spector’s “normal’ family reeks of it, of regular nights of reality shows gathered around the telly and all the subpar pseudo intelligence of Idiocracy. The scene where his little daughter is garishly made up with make-up to “dance” in front of her daddy forcibly reminds me of Honey Boo Boo practicing to be a stripper in some horrid future life.
Quiet desperation, indeed.
I, too, used to be married.
During the ripe grief of my twenties, when the ashes of the love I used to know still burned down deep, I met a man. I thought he was alright, and I thought I did all the right things. We dated for two years, and I still didn’t love him.
But I wanted a normal life. I was tired of being always alone. So when he asked me to marry him, I said, “Yes.”
Therein began a Stepford sort of horror story. I made our house beautiful, planned dinner parties for carefully selected guests, and taught Sunday school. My husband was often out of the country, but when he was home, he worked late. Our interaction was rare, distilled down to occasional emails and small holiday gifts. On the infrequent occasions that we would have sex, he would call ahead and ask me to shower.
“I’ve already done,” I might tell him, but I learned in time it didn’t matter. Unless I was dripping wet with steam rolling in from the master bath, I was never clean enough. Then it was five minutes of missionary and, yes, another wash up.
And that was life.
For six years.
During his final deployment, I realized my dog, a Rottweiler rescued from the local animal shelter, was happier, more relaxed. The dog really only knew me, and she was fretful and anxious when my husband was home.
I realized I was happier, too.
When we separated at my insistence, he repeatedly complained that if we’d only had a child, we could have been happier.
Now 33, I felt that not bringing a child into this world was probably the single smartest move I had ever made.
Still covered under his insurance, I had a tubal ligation the same day I filed the divorce papers. He went ballistic, and suddenly I was to blame for everything from his personal inadequacies to male pattern baldness.
I didn’t care.
I took my dog and everything I had ever bought with my own money or received as a gift from my father.
And I left for good.
I didn’t want a Honey Boo Boo kind of life, with children fat from fast food and the constant noise of room temperature IQs. I didn’t want to suffocate inside a vaccuum devoid of affection or attention. I wanted love, the kind that burns like a riot in the heart.
Without that, I would rather be alone.
Now here I am, nine years later, with another dog rescued from another city shelter; the last one passed away quietly on the hearth. I like to adopt older dogs, but it also means they have fewer years left to spend together.
And I am considering what it means to be alone, all over again.
This man I have now, I love with all of my fragile heart. I have never been kissed as he kisses me, as he touches me, and I have never laughed or smiled so much in all my life, even though it has been full of other amusements.
But I can be alone…if I must.
If it is the right choice.