Sunday, February 15, 2009

Moment of Zen: 3 Questions I've Been Asking

1. I've been noticing lately how new friends seem to relate to me and my partner differently because we're together. There's an assumption that we're always together, or would rather be with each other, or that we don't need as much outside social engagement as single people might. Are long-term monogamous relationships a fundamentally anti-social institution? Do they create the perception of separation between Us and Them? Do they box us into our apartments and homes, and keep us from relating to the rest of the world with any true freedom? What about the nuclear family?

2. Chicago has seen a few warmer days in the past few weeks, and I've noticed how different it feels to walk around without a bulky winter coat on. Namely, people around me are noticing my body again. Is there a kind of freedom in covering ourselves up for winter? Leaving, as some Muslim clothing does, only the eyes exposed?

3. All this talk of material excess seems to have everyone reassessing our priorities. For the first time in a while, our culture is asking questions about how much money is enough money, whether a salary can be too high, and how much material wealth we really ought to possess. Is this a good thing? I don't want to sound like a certain blogger who suggested that all this job loss is going to lead people towards better lives. In most cases, job loss just leads you to pain and suffering. But is there any way that our recession can build a healthier society in the long term? How can we make that happen?

2 comments:

Arvilla said...

1. I think this is an interesting question, and something I've thought about in my recent in a relationship state. The concept of the "private family" and the couple to a similar but maybe lesser extent, is treated like an institution by the state. I think it's often an apology for the failures of community. In that sense, I'd say they're anti-social. But they don't have to be...I think in many ways it's up to the couples/families in question to make themselves a part of a larger community and not shut themselves off to the outside world. But I guess there's only so far you can go on an individual basis, if everyone is assuming or telling you, you aren't supposed to be as accessible as single people any more.

2. I think being a pedestrian puts you in the unique position of being a spectacle more often than I am. I find cold-weather bulk confining and a bit suffocating so it's hard for me to feel liberated from anything in them (but again, it might be because i don't sense strangers noticing my body often).

3. I think the recession has the potential to transform our lifestyles but I can't decide how optimistic I'm willing to be about whether any of that transformation will actually happen or if we'll just ride this collapse out and then go back to life as usual when the bubble starts to fill.

DaisyDeadhead said...

1) Even after 21 years of marriage, I am asked "Where's your husband?" or "Where is ____?" --like, you know, asking a child where there father is, or something.

I'd like to ask "Why?"--but that would be rude. If I am feeling especially cheeky, I'll answer "Gee, I dunno!" but I get these slack-jawed stares in response, like I am a bad wife for not keeping track of him every damn minute.

HE DOESN'T GET ASKED WHERE I AM at social gatherings, just remember that. Women are supposed to be "escorted"--especially if they are in an existing couple--but men? Not so much.