"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Women often describe themselves based on which Sex and the City character they are most like. The four women provide a fairly accurate sampling of female archetypes to choose from. Over the years, I have identified with everyone but Samantha.
As a writer, I have always had a bit of Carrie in me. Like her, I write to analyze my life and ask why people behave as they do. Like her, I have made questionable relationship choices in the past, despite my desperate desire to cultivate a healthy, lasting one. (Getting rid of Aidan, anyone? How stupid can you be?) I also, unfortunately, spent some time as a smoker in the past, and I am still a lover of my own, funky sense of style. Yes, I love me some Carrie Bradshaw.
The successful career I have been grateful to build has given me a point of identification with Miranda as well. She has gotten several promotions and knows how to work with her money. She complains that men are often intimidated by her power. I get that.
The last time I was actually watching and following the show was probably four years ago. At that time, I was most like Charlotte. I wanted a kind, strong man and a family. I was borderline obsessed with babies, and I spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to look "pretty." Like Charlotte, I have gone to some ridiculous lengths trying to score a permanent man situation.
Samantha, however, has always annoyed me. She avoided commitment, shunned marriage, and laughed at her friends' endless relationship dramas. She flitted from man to man (and sometimes woman), flirting, having fun, and collecting attention. She lived alone. I judged her as shallow, fake, and lonely.
Last night, my housemates had Sex and the City on TV, and I sat down to half-watch it while I was eating dinner. I was shocked at what I noticed. I related to almost every line of Samantha's, and Charlotte annoyed the snot out of me! It was like I was watching a whole different show, except it wasn't the show that had changed, it was me.
I saw Charlotte as clingy, needy, and stuck in one co-dependent relationship after another. I thought she was trying to use babies to distract her from the fact that she isn't the strong woman that she knows she can be. I wanted to scream at her to rip off that pretty little dress and get dirty in the woods. What I had previously storied as authenticity now looked like insecurity.
Samantha, on the other hand, suddenly seemed so strong to me. She owns her life. She belongs to no one. She does what she wants, when she wants, with whom she wants. She doesn't look back in regret. She laughs in the face of upset. She doesn't need anyone to "complete" her, yet she enjoys intimacy and connection with many along the way. What I had previously storied as shallow now looked like strength.
The thing that will never change about me is my tendency to change. I'm sure that I will make many more rounds of these and other female archetypes. I enjoy trying them on like costumes; walking around, seeing how they fit. This Samantha archetype has been stuffed in the back of my closet for many years, gathering nothing but dust and scornful looks from me. I think it's time to take it out and wear it around town for a bit, don't you?