The dimmest notions of freedom.
Brad says that tonight I should talk about chrome bumpers.
Brad, I hate to tell you this—'cause I love you and you're my favorite Canadian and all, but you're totally and utterly full of shit. Why, again, am I letting you stay in my house?
So, anyway. Jeff spent most of the day tinkering with the mp3-serving computer in the living room. It kept hiccuping on crossfades—he tried everything from overclocking to testing the network and lots of stuff that happened while I was in the guest bedroom taking a nap. He eventually figured out the problem, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it is clearly enough to explain it here.Hard to believe the weekend's nearly over and that tomorrow's another workday. I'm really looking forward to my break next weekend (hellooooo, Dan and Steph!). I'm actually feeling a bit social today—a nice change from my recent crawl-in-the-hole-and-pull-the-hole-in-after-me feelings. When Heather came over today, I was glad to see her.
I dug further into The Age Of Innocence today. While I was reading, I came across a paragraph in the middle of chapter 19 that just struck me so much that I read it at least three times and even folded down the corner of the page to come back to it this evening:
"Archer had reverted to all his old inherited ideas about marriage. It was less trouble to conform with the tradition and treat May exactly as all his friends treated their wives than to try to put into practice the theories with which his untrammeled bachelorhood had dallied. There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free; and he had long since discovered that May's only use of the liberty she supposed herself to possess would be to lay it on the altar of her wifely adoration…"
I've been fascinated with The Age Of Innocence since I picked it up recently. I was expecting a mildly interesting read—something similarly socially oriented to Howards End (which I enjoyed for its beauty but didn't find extraordinarily compelling) but this has proven to be infinitely better.
I'm fascinated by the interplay between men and women in the societal construct of marriage, especially when the aspect of sexuality is thrown in. I always have been, for as long as I can remember—I have the introvert's fascination with Relationships From Afar. I'm incredibly curious about relationships, why they work, and why they fail.
I've always thought that would be an interesting thesis to explore—how the discussion and portrayal of sexuality and marriage in American literature has influenced the actual institution of 20th-century American marriage—because it certainly HAS changed in the past century. (You probably wouldn't be surprised to know that Henry Miller fascinates me.)
A good portion of the time spent between Jeff's and my decision to marry—and the actual ceremony itself—was spent trying to reconcile my instilled notions of marriage and sexuality with the quiet little voice in my head that said, "It shouldn't be like that! THAT is death-by-suspended-animation!" I had spent a good portion of my life preaching the notion of independence and freedom, especially within the confines of relationships…and suddenly I was confronted with The Institution Itself. Despite the fact that I said one thing, it was made painfully clear to me by several people that once I was married, I was expected to act like May—to lay my liberty upon the table in the course of building a marriage.
I could not, in good conscience, do that. It's terrifying when you really get down to it. I've gotten emails from my mother that make it quite clear that she doesn't approve of how Jeff and I conduct our marriage. When I took a vacation and Jeff didn't go, she emailed me afterward to ask me if Jeff and I were getting divorced. When I went down to New Orleans with friends and Jeff didn't go, she took great pains to say "Oh, I would NEVER do such a thing; did you ask Jeff what he thought of this; but…. but… I guess that maybe it's your marriage and you can do what you want, but I don't approve."
The question, of course, was where to turn for guidance in the absence of role models? I hate to call anything I do an unblazed trail—because, realistically, who is the first to do anything?—but sometimes it felt as though that I was in the only marriage that was consciously trying to be different from the May Welland societal norm.
In one century we've gone from blushing innocents to voting, arguing, short-haired-and-shorts-wearing members of the workforce. Our ideals of marriage, unfortunately, haven't changed. Deep down in a lot of people I see the disapproval of people like me.
From what I can tell, they're looking for May Welland—quiet, unschooled, accepting, close-your-eyes-and-think-of-England. I'm not a radical feminist by any means—unless you think "radical feminist" means equality without fuss.
I just wonder when our parents and our society will learn to respect the women they've raised to be independent.