If you’re a fan of comedy, you’ve hopefully by now watched Amazon Prime and the fabulous Amy Sherman-Palladino’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” If you haven’t, well, you’re gonna encounter some spoilers if you keep reading.
Anyway, Mrs. Maisel, a 1950s housewife turned comedienne through an odd twist of fate, entered into my life at what some would consider either the worst or best time in my life. Only weeks after Mr. Undecided and I parted ways, my mother suggested the show to me.
In episode one Mrs. Maisel is unceremoniously left by her husband. Good thinking, Mom. Not at all triggering.
Then in a drunken, grievous rage, she stumbles onto the stage of a local club and gives a hilarious, albeit legally questionable, comedic performance, and the rest is history.
One plot line that really stuck out to me aside from the main hilarious heroine’s was Rose Weissman’s, the mother of Mrs. Maisel. From what the viewers see, Rose married young to a well-off academic, raised her children and pretty much lived for her family and keeping up her family’s social status. In season two we get a glimpse into a past life of hers, one where she was independent and carefree, living in Paris.
Feeling unneeded, Rose actually leaves her family without a word and returns to that past life, taking up residence in a very small studio flat in Paris, and filling her days with art and culture. It takes her husband Abe and daughter days to realize her absence.
For a time after Abe jets off to Paris to retrieve Rose, the couple fall into that Parisian life together. Rose starts to dream of them making a home in a bright, beautifully designed apartment in Paris and seamlessly continuing their lives there and leaving their New York days behind them. This is short lived and Abe inevitably brings reality crashing down around her when he reminds her he has a job and they have a house back in the U.S. and can’t just leave.
The despair that was clear on Rose’s face was something I never want to experience. And if I can help it, I never will.
Blame it on my generational identity, but I can’t see being in a relationship that would make me a “kept woman.”
Sure, one must be logical and realistic to some degree. Not everyone can afford a flat in Paris on a whim, or to just pick up and start a new life in Greece (much to my dismay). A responsible person realizes there are steps to be taken in order to achieve such ends.
But it’s the feeling that those steps and those ends are still possible that I hope to never lose — from job or romantic relationship.
The moment I feel stuck — that I feel I can’t do something because of someone else — I know that person probably isn’t right for me.
The last few relationships I've been in, though the guys were very different, had the same problem. With them I felt at least a little bit stuck.
Before I started dating again I'd made a five-year plan to move to Olympia within two years, spending that time to save and research job opportunities/make connections, then within the next two years move to Europe. I wasn’t sure where, or how, but it was something I wanted to strive to do.
Then the high of my “fuck I’m awesome” re-realization wore off — only slightly — and the feeling that I needed to do something big in order to move on from the last chapter in my life also waned. Somehow, without moving very far from the home I had with Mr. Undecided, I caused a change in perspective for myself. I started to see the place I was working and living differently. And I wouldn’t say I became complacent, but I became happier.
Staying in Oregon started to become an option rather than a last resort.
However, I still didn’t want to feel like I had to be here.
At some point when I was dating Drummer Boy I had the thought of “Wow. I don’t know if I want to be dating this guy when I finally travel next year. Do I want to be single when I go, or is it just that I don’t like him enough to travel and be tied to him….”
“Do I feel tied to him? Oh no.”
Since then I’ve kind of used that scenario as a gauge. If I feel anxious or tied down by a relationship, then it’s not for me.
I mean, it’s one thing to be committed to a person and a relationship, but it’s another to have that person and relationship keep you from achieving a dream. So if I don’t feel like a guy would: 1) Be jumping on that plane with me or 2) Be faithful and supportive while I go venture on my own, he can see himself out.
Thinking of all of this and the idea of independence recently reminded me of a scene from another Amy Sherman-Palladino show that’s near and dear to my heart: “Gilmore Girls.”
In the scene, Emily (the grandmother) is talking to Lorelai (the mother) and makes an analogy of married life being like paddling a canoe.
“Your father and I have been paddling a canoe together for years,” she explains. “Only now, he’s dropped the paddle. He just dropped it. Not only that, but now the canoe is going in circles. Without your father there, I'm paddling on my side and the canoe is spinning in circles, and the harder I paddle, the faster it spins, and it’s hard work, and I'm getting tired.”
She says Lorelai’s situation, as a modern, single adult woman is different — she is in a kayak.
“Kayaks have paddles with things on both ends,” Emily says. “You steer it by yourself. Sure, I went to Smith, and I was a history major, but I never had any plans to be an historian. I was always going to be a wife. I mean, the way I saw it, a woman’s job was to run a home, organize the social life of a family, and bolster her husband while he earned a living. It was a good system, and it was working very well all these years. Only when your husband isn't there because he’s watching television in a dressing gown, you realize how dependent you are. I didn't even know I owned windmills…. But you. You provide for yourself. You're not dependent on anyone. You're independent.”
And, in her infinite wit, Lorelai says “I am kayak, hear me roar.”
The very idea of being in a metaphorical canoe with someone is horrendous to me. And this analogy came flooding back into my memory as I was paddling along in a two-person kayak (which seems like an oxymoron) at Kamilche Point with my aunt last week.
The words “I am kayak, hear me roar” played through my head again, causing me to laugh and also contemplate. Being in a two-person kayak is really not much different than being in a canoe. It requires teamwork and equal effort from both passengers.
In the big-picture view of a relationship, teamwork and equality are very important. But, if you’re in the same boat as someone and they bail or stop paddling, you’re left in a less-than-stellar situation. So, I thought, maybe the best course of action is to remain in a kayak. Not to say you go through life completely alone, but maybe two kayaks would be better than one canoe.
If you really trust someone, you should be able to remain that independent, but still be with them, right? Just like I should be able to share my life, but also be my own person who travels alone occasionally and has individual experiences.
I don’t believe love has to be wanting to share every moment. I believe it’s feeling like you can be your true self — with or without a partner physically by your side at all times.
And for that reason, I am kayak, hear me roar.