Monday, June 21, 2010

The Burbs

I live in the suburbs. Now, when I say suburbs, I don't mean a little town that popped up organically. I live in a town that was completely planned. The town is split into sections by the alphabet and each street in eache section starts with the complimentary letter. We moved here when I was a kid, after my parents divorced.

Prior to that and every summer following, I was in Portland. Not a huge city for sure, but a city nonetheless. My dad stayed up there and I always enjoyed the freedom and endless exploration a city could bring. Each year as I got older I hated the burbs more and more. I counted down the day to when I could move out and get away.

As I got older my dad moved away from Portland into a very rural area. As an adult, I also chose to live out in the sticks for awhile, but certain circumstances brought be back to the same suburban town I despised so much. Right now, I sit at the border of a planned community and a rural organic township. When people ask where I live I tell them the rural township, even though, technically, I live in the planned suburb. (Oh the embarrassment!)

The burbs have neither the soul of the city, nor the heart of the country. The burbs dont' fit in either category. A misfit village full of people caught up in watching the latest reality television to help fill void of their meaningless consumer driven lives. At least that is what I thought....

For reasons I won't go into, I took a shower at my sisters house the other day. She lives just a few blocks away from me. As I was lather, rinsing, and repeating my eyes focused on a huge tree in her back yard that can be seen from her tiny bathroom window. For a moment I forgot that I was in the burbs. For a moment I was able to pretend that I was in the country. For a moment that one lone tree was a forest just on the other side of the wall. When I turned in the other direction I saw a satellite dish. For some reason the view of electronics made me think of the city. Of fast motions and loud noises. And for a moment I thought the hustle and bustle of the city was on the other side of the wall.

These two things exist in one place....that is when it struck me. The most magickal places are the liminal spaces. The ones that are neither here, nor there. The places that are not one, nor the other. Really the suburbs are a liminal space, between the country and the city. There is beauty and motion here. What an interesting development....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The World of Relationships

I decided to watch an episode of the popular 80's television show 'Thirtysomething'. I'm not really sure what over came me, but perhaps I thought that since I am "thirty something", it might have something to offer me. Alas, I was sadly mistaken.

In the pilot episode of this relationship drama, we are introduced to the main characters of the show. They are a married couple with a seven month old baby girl. The wife has decided to stay home to be with her daughter, because (as she states many times in the episode) she feel closer to her child then any other person. The husband, in the meantime, has started his own business and struggles to deal with following his dream. Throughout the pilot these two people try to figure out a way to fit into their new roles in life and somehow manage to still be happy. From what I gather, those two things can't happen at the same time.

As I watched this show I started to feel, well, sick. These two unfortunate people are forced into family dynamics that do not fulfill them. They do all of these things because it is what married people are supposed to do. Ugh!!!!!! All through the show the husband dreams of having an affair and the wife stresses about being a good mother. I am amazed I made it through the whole show! The typical nuclear family rears its ugly head.

Being a Pagan has helped me to open to the fact that there are many possibilities for intimate relationships. Many of which, I think, are overlooked in the dominant paradigm. Why are we expected to get married, have babies, and then give our all to our families? I know when I found out I was having a baby, eight years ago, I felt like my life was over. I worried that I wouldn't get to have fun anymore. I thought I was going to have to roll over, buy a minivan, and disappear into a life of meaningless suburban hell. Which is exactly what this television show reinforced.

I know that there are many people out there who want this family dream. They long to get married, have babies and become the soccer mom, and good for them! But I would ask if that is their true desire, or a lifetimes worth of social programming?

Through the Pagan community I have met people who explore intimacy and relationships on many different levels. The queer community, the poly community, and those who practice celibacy, have all taught me a lot about what it is to love and be loved. There is no one "right" way to do things.

My partner and I explore the labels of our relationship often. What works for the both of us today might not work anymore tomorrow. Relationships require work because each person needs to be an active participant. Each person needs to be living their own life, which will form the partnership, and not let the partnership tell them how to live their life in the world. If my partner expected me to become the 'stay at home mom' we would not make it very long. That is not who I am. That is nowhere near who I want to be.

These are by no means easy topics, with simple answers. I don't think there are ever simple answers. But it would be interesting to see a show exploring these deeper issues. A show that goes beyond the gossip and intrigue of 'The L Word', and the Mormon tones of 'Big Love'. It would be interesting to see a healthy poly person exploring the world. I know they exist.

So for now I have decided that 'Thirtysomething' is not for me. And if that is what it means to be "thirty something", I will stick to 29 until all the craziness is over.