Sunday, October 6, 2013

You're Not a Man, Man: Pt 2

Last night we watched 'Before Midnight' - that new Julie Delpy conversation thing. 'They Came... to Talk...' rolled Mr Rabbit's eyes but there was a party upstairs that made our room vibrate so sleep wasn't about to come anyway. That said, the moment it began we got sleepy. But aside from the boring and forced moments, like in the other two films, there were a few great parts that made us both glad to have persisted.

'The only time I get to think is when I take a shit at work. I am starting to associate my thoughts with the smell of shit.'

And there was another part I thought a lot about in the shower this morning which was when she was ranting about how he would go out into the olive groves every day and just think and wonder about his work. It infuriated her, because she had such trouble dissociating herself from him and their kids - she just could never allow herself the time to stop and dream like that. And he answered by saying 'Well if you'd fucking stop whining and bitching all the time you'd have plenty of time to dream.' Which was a very very bad call and caused her to walk out, slamming the door. 

This really affected me. It's so true. Ethan can never understand the complexity of her connection to her kids and that infuriating instinctual urge, despite all her efforts to be an independent, strong, feminist, to be with them at all times. How difficult it is for her to allow herself the time and space to separate from them - especially in her mind. 

Though men feel their own specific attachment to their children, there is something different that women feel, that they have to fight harder in order to keep themselves and their inner worlds alive. It's just different. The man does his share - often huge - then goes for his walk in the olive grove. The woman can do it too, but she has to overcome an extra part of herself that wants her to just stay and spend the entire day in Sandpit Park with them both. All it takes is for her to say - 'I'm going off for a walk.' The man and the kid would say 'great!'. But it's an effort to say it. If I ever do, the family is always better off. But that's not to say it's not anti-instinct. 

It took me back to a piece I wrote about it, when I was first pregnant with Kiki - you're not a Man, Man. That was the first time I could feel that instinct arriving in me. I must have been six or seven months pregnant. And for the first time in my life I felt different from Mr Rabbit; from all men. Until then, I had grown up feeling all the same entitlements and freedoms as a man, the ability to attain my goals in any field I chose - really, between Mr Rabbit and I there wasn't much more difference than our shapes and his ability to smash me in every sport we tried (including chess). We had always met on a very even level, and we both gave equal amounts of passion to the art forms we loved most - and neither questioned that in the other. Suddenly, I could feel myself change. Already I could feel an urge so strong to care for this being, I would never feel the same way about my work and my independence - correction - I would feel the same, but at the same time equally as dedicated to this other creature - and thus live in a perpetual state of torn. I felt it then, but could never in a billion years have fathomed how that feeling would intensify thousandfold after her birth, growing even greater every day she is alive. When I am away from her, I miss her. I can't be home when she's not there, or I feel guilty I haven't gone and brought her home from wherever she is to be with me. I struggle to set time for my work, aside from bread-winning, because anything that is not directly about her and feeding, clothing and educating her, is suddenly indulgent. I hate it! Because deep down I know it's not indulgent. I know it's me. And I know she needs me to find the time and to keep nourishing the self that I am as much as I do - she doesn't want the slave-girl or the empty resentful woman stealing her away from crèche - and as much as I know that, I still have to do battle to find that space, every single day.

Thank God Mr Rabbit got it, not like Ethan. I think Ethan gets it, but he was just angry in that moment because Julie had been acting psycho. I just think - wow - we really do get ripped apart after having a kid. When before we took it for granted we were utterly on the same boat, rowing the same direction, now we're on faraway islands sending smoke signals to each other - 'Hell-oooo! Can I go-oo for a walk in the olive groooove?'

The olive grove is crucial to both of us - and it's tempting/easy to just never go there and thus get all pious - and then get angsty with Mr Rabbit when he goes, and most especially when he comes back talking about it. Woooo!!! Who is that? I've got to find a way to go too - he certainly isn't stopping me - and then I'll come back and we'll meet like we used to and share our stories. Instinct is a beast though. Man I hope I can keep mine tamed. 

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