ants in action

17 11 2004

i had a dream last night wherein pdxstraycat and i were traveling somewhere, and had been re-routed from our destination and assigned a hotel where i’d assumed that we were going to spend the night, and as we were checking in the check-in people were also signing us up for a high tea with towering pink cakes. i accepted on our behalf, of course, because this was somebody else’s disaster that had caused us to be here in the first place, so i thought the tea was paid for, and anyway, what else did we have to do. then he got off the phone (i guess in dreams we have cell phones?) and told me he’d agreed for us to have dinner with someone else in the hotel (i’m guessing a larger party of us had been re-routed?) and then we were just going to drive back after that, so there would be no way we could eat both dinner and those huge cakes, and we weren’t staying the night anyway, so there wouldn’t be a room to charge the tea to, and it would have been awfully expensive on its own. and i started whining about the tea, because i wanted to share something with him, and i didn’t want to be de-railed in the plan i thought was a good plan at the time, and i certainly didn’t want to simply be overridden… but the reality, even in the dream world where sometimes you can’t tell about these things, is that i didn’t have any interest whatsoever in the tea, i’d just agreed to be polite, and now i was insisting because i’d agreed. i could have just cancelled the order. or asked him to. but i felt trapped by both what i’d agreed to and his disinterest in it.

when academom and i were driving home from ithaca a few weeks back, and discussing our relationships, our married-ness (which she’s been at much, much longer than i have, despite technically being younger than me), and the speed-bumps (to use a cutesy euphamism that in real life annoys me) we’ve encountered in such engagements along the way, i said something about a situation she was describing sounding kinda oppressive. she said, “what ‘kinda’? marriage is an oppressive institution.” i was torn at the time, and i’m torn now (and i expect, really, to be torn for the next 50 years or so) about how to respond to that, not only verbally in the context of a conversation, but as a thinking, reasoning being who’s chosen to participate in this institution. i want loopholes. (who wouldn’t.) i want to say “of course it’s oppressive, if you think of it as an institution!” but is thinking of anything else just an act of self-delusion? not because it’s not always other things too–of course it is–but because it’s always also an institution. there’s no getting around that part. just like there’s no getting around the fact that whether spending a lot of time with his very sweet, generous, kind, friendly, loving family makes me uncomfortable, for all kinds of political, social, & occasionally even spiritual reasons that, were i less of an obsessively-reflective thinker, would be far less of a problem, or not, they’re still his family. which means they’re my family. in a somehow even more entrenched way than the one i was born with–i feel like i can choose not to talk to my own mother if i’m in a grumpy mood, but if his calls, i feel obligated to listen politely and make small-talk. don’t get me wrong–i’m not saying i mind politeness and small-talk, or that the only response i ever have to his mother is one of obligation–or that i don’t sometimes feel annoyingly obligated to my own mother too. but i do feel like there’s less give in the institutionally-proscribed mother-relationship than in the one that’s legitimately mine–and maybe that’s really the heart of where the connection between institutionality and oppression comes from.

this is not a lead-in to an earth-shattering crisis; i’m fed up with neither the arrangement nor the darling boy it centers on, and i’m certainly not considering leaving him on account of an imagined disagreement over tea-cakes. but her words have been fluttering around in my head like a trapped–there’s that word again–moth, and i can’t in good conscience call myself an academic if i don’t engage these things (and along with them, yes, my school work!) with my critical faculties fully engaged.

my favorite 2-line movie discussion of the subject, from st. elmo’s fire:
[kevin] “marriage is obsolete.”
[alec] “dinosaurs are obsolete. marriage is still around.”

they’re both right in their ways, of course, but i always really found myself siding with kevin, and not just because he had a crush on alec’s wife & knew alec was a cheater & got left behind to stir the vegetables while they went to fool around. i was also on the phone last night with aaric, who was telling me the darlingest things about his own committed relationship . like how he’s always been solid about which side of the bed is his & staying in it when justin’s there, but when he’s (often) out of town, he always finds himself waking up with the top half of his body on justin’s side of the bed, “where his head and heart would be.” sap-o-rama–sorry for exposing you like that, honey. but it makes my point: there’s nothing at all obsolete about that. of course, they aren’t “married,” either, although they’ve been together at least as long as pdxstraycat and i have. me, if i have a rare night alone, i tend to hog the hell out of both pillows, thanks–and there might be a thousand reasons for that that have nothing to do with anything at all. but then again they might. would institutionalizing it keep him on his own pillow, the way it seems to drive my dream-self to argue over tea-cakes i don’t even want just for the sake of arguing?

there’s obviously way more to this than i can sort out before class this morning. most people don’t manage in a lifetime to really get it, i’d imagine; i expect most of them don’t try too hard, either. the only thing that worries me? i’m guessing not trying too hard to get it would probably make it a whole lot easier & more enjoyable, but that’s counter to my programming. must…*poke*…everything! >sigh< this probably has a lot to do with why i'm getting worse and worse at finishing academic projects too!

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5 responses

17 11 2004
cheshirrrecat

there are notes in the sand.

17 11 2004
tyra

lol
‘s going to wonder why i don’t jump your shit for being cryptic like i do his. let him. i’m on it. *hug*

17 11 2004
pictsy

Bagel and I decided that since we sometimes drive each other nuts, we should get to take “single breaks.” Like, “I’m gonna go be single in my room for a few hours,” or “I’m gonna walk around Adams Morgan and be single for a while.” Not that this means that you get to consider being with someone else– the point is that you get to be totally your own and feel selfish and independent for a little bit. You can be secretly divorced for five minutes, take a breath of fresh air, and then come back. Kind of like running away from home, but then sneaking back into the house before anyone notices. I don’t know if this helps, but it helps me a lot when I start to freak out about commitment.

18 11 2004
susanmarie

Single Time!
I like that. Occasionally I travel by myself, and I love that feeling of freedom. It reminds me that I can be self-reliant and independent. Even better, get really dressed up, feel fabulous, and do something you love all by yourself. That’s an excellent thing.

20 11 2004
tyra

i like that too. you’re a genius. 🙂
i just spent about 30 hours on an only-vaguely-educational road-trip to philly with 3 of my classmates (we met up w/some of the others down there, but they were all pretty much on their own agendas aside from the event we’d gone for, so it was pretty much a quick version of a just-us-4 weekend), and it was GREAT. to do exactly that.
not b/c i desperately need/want to be single–not even like i didn’t miss him once or twice (but certainly not while i was stretching out all across the BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG hotel-bed i had all to myself!)–but because it was really great to just walk around in my own skin, hear some other voices bouncing off of my own, and not be looking over my shoulder to see what he was doing, how he was feeling, what he was thinking all the time–stuff i can’t NOT do when i’m with him.
hmmm. ::ponder, ponder::

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