Between the Lives

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The last couple days I have been reading Between the Lives by Shepard. It's a collection of biographical essays about artist-couples in New Zealand and their experiences with maintaining relationships while also being artists. Not surprisingly, many of the female partners chose to give up their art to support their husbands and raise their children. That is not depressing to me; much of being allowed to choose is that you can choose what other people don't agree with. But what is sad is that their efforts were rewarded with philandering, especially so for one woman whose husband brought home a student he had impregnated (!) to live with them. Worse still was that he delighted in the birth and growth of this child, while regarding his own as troublesome nuisances to his work.

Now, I know plenty of people who have happy, successful marriages. But right now I am not feeling optimistic about marriage in my future. Not because men are scum (some are; most aren't) but because of the culture of submission in women. Even a strong, liberated woman (such as myself) will find herself caving to society and wondering just when she started worrying about having the house clean and dinner cooked before her man gets home. I am afraid of what love will do to me, really. (Or what it has done, several times in the past.) I become slow, unsure of myself, needy even to the point of madness. I become depressed more easily. It's as if my every flaw is magnified, and in turn I feel insecure.

I can only hope that a long period of nomadic travel, making art, and being alone will be the cold water in which my steel is tempered. Do I want to fall madly in love someday? I've been there, it's not that great after a while and it makes you silly. But what I do want is a supportive partner who is equally interested in my work, is happy to see me thrive, and works to create a positive environment for me as I do for him. Someone who is independent, but still thinks of my feelings before making plans. Someone who has an excellent work ethic that will rub off on me, who likes to be intimate and close, and enjoys little things like the smell of the sea on the wind, the satisfying sound of clicking bike wheels over soft earth. Someone who wants children, not someone who wants to add to the gene pool then support them only financially.

Anything less is unacceptable, a temporary distraction on my road. I guess what I want is a fellow journeyman, not a destination that I am forever looking forward to. Someone who wants to travel alongside me, be with me, and discover things both outside himself and within.

(That isn't too much to ask, I hope. But if it is, that's ok too.)


Anonymous said...

To help prevent yourself from falling into the trap of losing yourself check out any "Mama Gena" book, "The Conscious Bride," "Marriage Shock" and "Emotionally Engaged." Seriously, even if you're nowhere near getting married--Mama Gena and Marriage Shock are especially good.