I had a really good time. I looked great. So did everyone else and it was fun to just look at all of us in our finest.
My Crazies were right in some ways and wrong in others. Not all of the toxins that I needed to sweat out were alcohol-based.
The West Wing often makes me cry. Today, two things happened in an episode I was watching. The first is that the president and CJ disembark from Air Force One and have this conversation:
President Bartlett: CJ, look.What I love about this scene is that CJ is legitimately pissed at the President. But the President is fucking with her. He did all that on the flight because he knew it would piss her off and that amused him. The reality is that it amuses CJ, too. It’s kind of fun to get all riled up like that. Sure, it the great scheme of things, she probably would have preferred to nap or to get some work done, but once the President made it clear that wasn’t going to happen, she gave in and played the game.
CJ: Don’t start with me, Mr. President.
PB: I was helping pass the time. I was being entertaining as well as instructive.
CJ: I am back in America now; I have rights. I am no longer belted down next to the passenger from hell.
Leo: Welcome back Mr. President, how was the flight?
[At the same time]
PB: It was great.
CJ: It was gruesome.
CJ: “If you look out the left side of the cabin, you’ll see the fjords.” Then we got the history of the fjords. Then we got a quiz on the fjords. Do you have any idea how much I wanted to dress you up in leder-hosen and drop-kick you into those fjords?
PB: Ah, you don’t know how to have fun when we’re traveling.
I love this dynamic. My family is like this. My dad will kick us under the table and say, “Watch me get your mom,” then proceed to ask the world’s dumbest questions to get her frustrated because she actually believes in that moment that he’s capable of such intense stupidity. (I’m not sure who that reflects worse on: my mom for being gullible or my dad for being the type of guy people are likely to believe is actually as dumb as he looks.) It’s perverse and sick and we all love it. Because the thing is, it would never work if Mom didn’t care enough about Dad to answer his questions to help him “understand” something.
In families, occasionally we abuse the intimacy of our relationships with one another to drive each other crazy simply because we can. Because we know that almost nothing will threaten the family unit because of all of the positive things it provides for us. In the cost-benefit analysis, it is always better to err on the side of tolerance and appeasement than to threaten the existence of the family unit.
Do we get pissed at each other? Yup.
Do we yell at each other? Gosh yes.
Do we laugh and make jokes at each other’s expense? Yes.
But in the end, all is forgiven because it has to be. We would rather accommodate each other at almost any cost than walk away.
I know not all families are like this. But mine is and I’m grateful for it.
I believe that this ideal community is the basis for much of our art and literature that describes groups of friends that stick together through thick and thin: soldiers, groups of girlfriends, gangs of jocular thieves, etc. And the staff of the West Wing. These folks have the freedom to be whoever they are - pissed, funny, vulnerable, crazy,
It’s possible that for the first time in my life I’ve found that group of friends at school. It’s possible that I haven’t. Only time will tell. But we’ve been over a few bumps already in the last 8 months and none of us have fallen out of the Jeep yet even though some of those bumps have foothills that we've still navigating.
But the second things that happened in this episode of the West Wing was that when the President asked Charlie if he would want the man who shot his mother executed, Charlie responds that he would want to kill the man himself. This affected me because Charlie will never do this, no matter how much he wants to. There are things that are more important to him that scratching that giant itch.
I thought, "Life's hard." Then I thought, "But you just have to live with it."
I'm a little embarrassed that my internal monologue is so cliche-ed. But life feels hard for me. Among other things, my ex will probably date someone new soon, someone that I know. I don't actually want to still be dating him but I also don't want to lose his friendship through the awkwardness of tricky dynamics and the time that a new woman will take from me. But I kind of just have to live with whatever happens because, well, you just have to live with it.
But I have this sneaking suspicion that it will all be OK. Time will go on and these bumps will make the community all of my friends - not just the school ones - people that I can be myself with because I do not fear losing them if I abuse our intimacy from time to time.
That's a hard one for me. I've driven a lot of people off by letting them see the real me, the unpleasant me, the bitchy me, the controlling me, the vulnerable me. Friends are very often ephemeral in my life. I think this is probably true for everyone.
Yet, I still hope. Even though my heart aches sometimes. I realize that my heart aches because I fear losing community. My heart aches because we live in a world in which none of us ever feel completely reconciled. If we were completely reconciled, there would be no cost-benefit analysis, no trade-off. We would not hurt each other. We would not abuse intimacies just to be reminded that we are loved enough to be forgiven.
I hope for a world where people are reconciled. I believe this is what Jesus is offering us when he is offering to let us live in the Kingdom of God. The trick, of course, is that we have to fight to expand the boundaries of this kingdom so that it's big enough for everyone to live in or it's not big enough for any of us. We'll always live half in and half out.
I know that my parents hate that I am so vulnerable on this blog. My mom thinks stalkers and predators will be attracted to me and my dad thinks that someday I won't be able to get a job I want because of it. And I respect their opinions and I'm more careful than I would normally be because of them.
But the only way the people in this world will become reconciled to each other is if some of us, little by little, start trusting that the bumps we're rolling over will actually make us stronger friends in the end because we get practice holding each other in the Jeep. That the only way we'll know that we're loved is if we push the boundaries a little and the only way others will trust that they are loved is if we let them fuck with us a little. We have to be willing to put down what we thought we were going to get done on the flight and play the game.