The Displaced Bostonian
Friday, January 31, 2003
No one is ever privy to the real story between a couple. The relationship has its own story that is independent of the two people in it. The truth can never be known by telling the story because the story will always be lacking that intanglible element of the truth.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
I think the sure sign of eventual maturity must be that within a few minutes of being mad at your spouse for fairly insignificant (but never the less annoying) reasons, you can laugh about the grievance just as easily.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Whenever you think you are done with something or someone, I think the universe enjoys slapping you around a bit.
At a wedding I attended last weekend, a nephew of the bride took a striking resemblance to what I imagine my ex looked like as a child – ears and all. I placed it right away. There are few failures I have had in life that were as inelegant as that one. That excursion with him was probably the last gasp of my rebellious nature of that magnitude.
Everyone would love for their failures to be inconsequential and hidden, of course. I have made light of mine so that I am able to hold it up as a warning to others: Don’t waste too much of your life with the grossly wrong partner. If the relationship can’t be salvaged (and so often, I believe, it can’t be), get out while the getting is good. You’re only watching the rest of your pretty years waste away, getting more and more scared to be alone, more willing to buy into those neurosis that keep you from achieving what the real you is waiting to be.
Enough with the faux-motivational speaking already. I make myself irritated.
Thought for the day:
Classic rock is much like your old boyfriend with whom the relationship will never work out. You know you can always go back to him for a standard good time but over the long term will drive you seriously crazy with constant reminiscing of the past.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
I have known since I was 12 that I did not want to have children of my own. I don’t know why, nor how I came to such a decision at such an early age. It was just something I knew as a fact and I didn’t question it, like having dark hair. This decision is always off-putting to other people. And people of course like to jump right on the topic and into your uterus, as if your breeding happens to somehow includes their opinions and feelings and those would somehow contribute to your decision making. They don’t. Ever. But it doesn’t stop folks from trying. If folks can’t succeed with getting at you, they bring up the husband: “How does M feel about not having kids?” That drives me crazy. Would I waste the time of another person whose primary goal was to have kids? Would I waste my own time? Would I bother to wed another individual who felt drastically different than I did on such a crucial and important issue? NO! Is it really so hard to believe that two people would consider marriage and NOT discuss this first? What goes through people’s heads? Bumblebees? Further, it somehow implicates that I would fall to the will of my husband simply because it might be something that HE wants and never mind me or what I want. Thankfully, M and I have discussed it, many times over, and we come to the same conclusion over and over again – usually after we’ve left a restaurant where we were seated near a little screaming banshee tossing chicken chunks and rattles at the passerby. But one day, should he ever change his mind, he’s welcome to pursue someone with the same interest. No hard feelings. I wouldn't bring a child into this world simply to save a relationship either. Talk about harboring a lifetime of regret and foisting sad expectations on your new, unsuspecting baby.
A friend asked me, "Why talk about this at length? Why make a whole story of it? You act like people are smacking you with it constantly." I said, people ARE constantly bringing it up with me, at least once a month. They just have to know. I don’t know what comes over people, but they just can’t seem to believe that someone would feel this way. They say “You’d make an excellent parent” or “You’re a smart and pretty girl. It’s selfish to not pass that on to someone else!” or “Aren’t you worried about who will get your stuff when you die?” Seriously. I’m not kidding. These are quotes.
People also brush off your proclamation of no children when you are 16, 20 or even 25. I was either to young to make such a decision, hadn’t met the right person, or hadn’t crossed the right time yet. But now I am 30 – prime childbearing age (and ticking away!) if I were going to do it, and I haven’t an inkling. I love when people say, "What if your mother felt the same way? Then you wouldn't be here right now." A proper response to this is, "Well if it meant not having to waste my time with you having this ridiculous conversation about things that are none of your business, it might be worth it. How would I know the difference if I were never born? That requires CONSCIOUSNESS." Duh.
M’s mother used to badger us constantly. She would give her predictions on what it would look like (my dark hair and skin tone with eye color). M had to finally threaten to stop calling her if she didn’t quit it because it often became part of a conversation we just didn't want to have. Exasperated, she said, “Fine. I no longer care if you and Lorrie have kids or not", and promised to leave us alone about it. M and I marked this on the calendar as a referral date in case she forgot. It may begin as innocent questioning but the result is a weird brand of peer pressure when it comes at you from so many people. Like you are the only person in school who liked the Beatles instead of Duran Duran.
About 4 Christmases ago, M & I went to spend the holiday with my folks. We went to a lovely Christmas Eve party at an old friend of the family’s house, Mary. She and I were discussing children and she said, “I didn’t really want to have kids either but my husband kind of bugged me into doing it. After I had them, I didn’t bond with them right away they way people talk about. They had to grow on me.” “Like a mold?” I asked her. And she admitted yes.
Later, I am walking up the stairs and into a conversation where I am clearly being discussed. I heard, “Lorrie doesn’t want to have kids because she wants all her time for herself, isn’t that right, Lorrie?” in an odd tone. I was taken aback. “When have I ever said that to you?” I asked. “Well, that’s the reason, isn’t it?” So I said, “No.” She said “What is it then? I want to know.” I said, “I could have 50 reasons and none of them would satisfy you because they are engineered to satisfy me.” She said, “Well I’m family.” So I said, “So? F. is my mother and I don’t discuss the reasons with her because it’s none of her business either!” Which is when my uncle chimes in and said, “For Christ’s sake, it’s clear she doesn’t want to talk about it. Why don’t you leave her the hell alone?” The room was stunned into silence.
My mother used to say, "Well, you should have at least one." My mother’s last attempt at this (and they are few and far between) was during her last visit. I saw some cute girl shoes at a flea market, thinking about getting them for M’s niece. My mother says derisively, “What are you going to do, put them on your dog?” I said, “if you wanted to increase your chances of having grandchildren, you should have had more children.”
A friend of mine, K., used to be a hotel manager. He said he met a couple that was under a lot of pressure from family to have a baby and they seriously didn’t want one. In fact, the family thought they were having a romantic weekend away to try and conceive, when they were really there to attend a seminar on how to break it to family about their desire to be child-free. Think about that: people feel so put upon from friends or family, that someone else thought to create a successful seminar on how to tell people to stay out of your reproductive system. That just illustrates how messed up this whole issue can be.
What can be further confusing is that people will confuse a child-free stance with an anti-child stance, which is not the same at all. I like children. I like making funny faces at them so they laugh. I think it is interesting to see their learning process. But at the end of the day, I want to go home to peace and quiet. I know that peace and quiet is just not possible with children.
I have three theories about why people are so offended by non-child bearing in general. One I call the misery club, wherein people who are upset with the choices they have made, which may include having children for the wrong reasons. They are not happy and they want you to not be happy with them. Misery loves company.
The other theory ties in with the first, the jealousy club. People see you having the time and the money to do things that you want to do: projects, travel, going out for dinner and movies, hobbies, whatever. They can no longer do the same things because that money is focused on the child/children. Feeding them. Saving for college. Hiring a tutor because no one in the family can handle math (Looking back I needed a math tutor).
The final theory is insecurity club. These people are not sure they made the right decision to have kids. By your not having one, that is somehow a threat to their decision, it makes them question it. By your having a child too, their decision to have one is reinforced and validated. Screw'em. My purpose does not include making you feel better about things you're not even sure of yourself.
Truth is, I really do have about 50 reasons not to have children. They all add up to the one big reason: I just don’t want to.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
I have been thinking abut people who ask a lot of questions all the time.
Ever since I was a child, I can distinctly remember being really irritated when well-meaning but intrusive relatives would ask me, “How was school today?” or “Did you learn anything in school today?”
I suppose I have always felt an overwhelming need for privacy and space. I would inevitably respond with “Why do you want to know?” What I was really thinking and did not yet have the sass to say was, “You already went to school, shouldn’t you remember what you were taught instead of asking me?” I honestly thought (and still do) that it was just not their business.
This is a trend continues to this day. People that I haven't lived in the same state with for over 25 years can't help themselves from asking me something so personal that all of the old defenses just come leaping out of me. During my visit last year, it was about my dad.
“Do you hear from your dad a lot, Lorrie?” with that shrouded “poor Lorrie grew up in a broken home” voice that one day could spur me to violence if I don’t keep a lid on that. Instead, thankfully, I snapped back and ignored the question entirely. “Why are you always asking me questions like that?” Instead of answering, the questions was dodged with a defensive, “Fine, then I won’t ask you anymore.” “Good. Thank you.”
More often than not, I find that people who want to know everything are often trying to obtain that knowledge without revealing anything of substance about themselves. (I have a co-worker like this and she drives me crazy for this and other reasons, in spite of being what I presume is otherwise a good and decent person). Instead of creating an equal and reciprocal relationship like one might with a very good friend (or lover), you are instead creating a relationship where there is an imbalance of power. One person is in a position to need the other person more.
If you share something naturally during the course of a conversation, that is surely different as it is voluntary sharing. This is more rare, at least for me. And that’s not to say I don’t want to share anything because that is untrue. But is does have to be voluntary and can’t feel like an affront your privacy.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Ah yes, the New Year has dawned. People do seem slightly more optimistic than they did at this time last year. That’s good.
But as per usual, the event itself will always reveal itself to be a bit of a disappointment. The New Year’s I truly want I can’t ever have. Unless, of course, time travel becomes suddenly accessible. It doesn’t exist anymore but I always think of it with the same longing every year.
What I want is an old-school black-tie event. Men dapper and dashing in the black and white tuxedos. Women in long and sparkling gowns, hair done up. An enormous 20 piece swing orchestra playing big band songs with people swirling and twirling to the likes of Frank, Dean and Sammy. Lots of champagne, a great balloon drop and a million pieces of confetti against the soft strains of Auld Lang Syne.
I don’t know why I am so attracted to this notion of old romance. Perhaps because it does not exist anymore.