Friendship, Television

Who we know

Homicide My first online community was alt.tv.homicide, a Usenet group for fans of The Best Damn Show on Television, Homicide: Life on the Street. I've still got some friends from that group. We've transitioned to blogs or Facebook. A small subset still has a private Yahoo group, but honestly I haven't written anything there in forever. I do still love the show, and Snowman and I have been watching Season 4 on DVD today.

I don't know how that became my group of people; it was mysterious. I was desperately seeking community, I guess. The group was busy enough to be interesting, but not so busy as to be impossible to follow. Hilariously, I found it the night I heard the show had been canceled. I had been watching the show for years, since before I had a computer or access to the Internet. It's a strange period in my memories. Where was I? In this house? Or the place we rented before? That's where I had my first computer, purchased in 1997 so I could take a class online at Andover Newton, when that distance learning program was in its infancy. But once you have the Internet, one thing leads to another. 

And I had a lot of time on my hands, or so it seemed, in that massive twenty-three hours my kids were gone to stay with their dad from Friday at 6 to Saturday at 5. 

I had a sort of depressingly conventional heteronormative view of the world, in which the only possible solution to my situation was another man coming along to balance the equation of my life. 

I didn't know how to meet people, not single people. I had been married since I was 22. And I knew that the other moms who kept me company during the week were not available evenings and weekends, when the daddies came home. At 36 I felt old and finished and unbalanced and out of place in the world. 

I wish I had known this me then. 

But who I knew were other mommies, people who felt threatened by my change of status. Because that was the worst case scenario, having the daddy leave. It really felt that way.

So I was grateful to have some friends in particular who lived through the gap with me, the ones who stuck by me while I tried to figure out what to do with my life and saw me make new friends and eventually date and walked beside me along the way from 1996 to 2001. 

This afternoon Snowman and I ran into one of those friends in the grocery store. Our lives diverged, mostly because when I finished seminary and started at my first call, I didn't have the same flexibility for getting together regularly. Our kids got older and didn't play together anymore.  Who really knows why we allow a friendship to diminish? I just know I'm grateful for her friendship then. 

But she's not a confidante anymore. Somehow there's too much air between us. So we talked about what our kids are doing, though I think there may have been an appraising glance at my bare ring finger. Do we all do that, middle-aged women, checking for the diamond and the circling band that signifies? Our stories feel too different now.

In the middle of strife, we think about that, don't we? Who can we trust with the whole story? Who can we even stand to tell? I heard from another old friend over the weekend, one of the first new friends who came along in my single life, someone I've managed to keep up with, mostly, over the course of twelve years now. On the phone, answering her voicemail this afternoon, I knew this was someone I could talk to, still. 

Those Usenet friends–some of you may read this–are people I'm glad I still know, even though the way we know each other is different. I like to hear the updates on Facebook and read about what someone is knitting and what someone else is watching on TV down under and see the Christmas card pictures. I treasure the memory of lunch in a top floor dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the invitation of R, which included P, who gave LP and me a box of "silly cookies." I wonder about the ones who drifted off into the ether: the one who burned CDs of music from the series and sent them out to many of us; the guy who helped me write more than one firm rejection email when I first started dating and didn't know the way to form the words; the lovely gal from western Maryland who I once met for red velvet cake at a tea shop.  (I don't remember anymore who believed Munch did it.)

It was a funny way to reach out, but it gave me the knowledge that meeting people via the Internet was maybe okay most of the time, and that led me eventually to blogging and RevGalBlogPals and many, many other people to know and love. So I'm glad I found that little corner of the Internet on a Friday night a long, long time ago. 

Television

Die Together, Live Alone

Lost11  This post will absolutely contain spoilers for Episode 6.14 of Lost, "The Candidate." Be forewarned. I'll count it down the way we used to do on Usenet, just in case.

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In a comment on my last post, Wendy asked the important question: What about Lost? We watched it on my birthday getaway, and then I watched it again with LP last night. As a person who thinks drowning is about the worst way to die she can possibly imagine, I found it hard enough to watch the first time. The explosion on the sub, the water blowing back the door against Lapidus, the limited canisters of oxygen, the injured compatriots, the idea that Hurley would bring Kate to the surface (!), the irony that Jack had to rescue Sawyer, whose lack of trust brought them to this pass, all that was enough.

Except that it wasn't, and there was Sun, so beautiful, trapped in the rising water. And even as my spouse said, "She has to tell him to leave, to take care of their daughter," I knew there was no way Jin would leave her there alone to die. 

Fans of the show on the Internet–well, fans other than this one–griped that they were reunited only to be killed, howled that Jin left his daughter to be raised by the horrible parents of Sun, decried the scene as cheesy, really just generally went ape over the turn the plot took. 

I saw in my getaway hotel room, hand lifted in the air, saying, "I am holding onto the idea that the timelines will merge, that we will see them together again, that in the other reality she is pregnant with that daughter. I am holding onto that." I said it, hand in the air, gathered into a clasping posture, because although I have expected tragedy and loss in this fight between good and evil, I want to believe that these benighted people will be redeemed and released and live on "in anotha life, brutha." 

One of the things I find compelling is the way the flash sideways and the island story, too, are revisiting phrases and motifs from the first five seasons and turning them upside down. One of the skills we learn in seminary, hopefully, is theological reflection, an exercise that asks us to consider what's happened in light of holy texts and pastoral experience and psychological understanding, to look at things from the obvious angle but to turn them around and look at them a different way, too. Since Season One, we've heard the refrain, "Live together, die alone," first from Jack in a speech on the beach to the other Lostaways. 

But watching Sun and Jin, in the flooding, sinking sub, I said aloud, "Die together, live alone." The whole purpose of the two of them has been to work through their conflicting impulses to come together and then to separate, to respond to the outside pressures and the mechanical difficulties that threatened them (a nasty father doing dirty business, the class divide, infertility) by recognizing that ultimately their love mattered more than anything else. 

I don't know if they are pieces in a game, the characters in our story. Maybe they are being played, or maybe they are simply being set up to play. For most of us, in everyday reality, we would want to see the father swim away to be with the child, bereft, yes, but devoted to the representation of his love for his wife that exists in their daughter, just as the wife had been in his absence. But this is not everyday reality. 

This is a story about LOVE, and how love makes us good, how love makes us able to sacrifice, how love breaks through in unexpected ways and allows forgiveness and redemption. 

I'm afraid it's no guarantee of a happy ending, though I hope for some version of one.

My current working theory is that the flash sideways is an alternate reality jimmied together somehow by Eloise Hawking (Widmore) to save her son's life. To try and keep the other people impacted by the island quiet, she has given many of them things they wanted, at least as she understands and interprets those things. But it's all to serve her own purpose, and her own happiness, and her own love for the man she shot in cold blood before she even gave birth to him.

That's a lot, isn't it?

She's doing all this at the same time the island is still playing out its latest dramatic creation, at the same time her son's father is on a mission of his own. He's just as ruthless, but is he driven by love?

Can love drive us to be ruthless?

Desmond is still down the well, his life preserved by the question he asked Sayid: If you get to see the woman you love again, how will you explain it to her? 

Can we really get what we love by being bad? Won't it backfire on us?

I think of Sayid much as I do Sun and Jin. Having done the loving thing in the Original Timeline, he's created some benefit for his other self, the one just arrested, the one who killed to protect his true love and his brother and their children. He's good and bad, but he's driven by love. And on the sub, with the explosives, he does good through ultimate sacrifice, which was prefigured by his cruciform body being carried from the pool in the prior episode in which he died.  

So, I'm over here holding onto hope, despite the sadness of this week's episode, despite hearing my daughter sob over Sun and Jin, sob with Hurley on the beach. I don't like Kate, and never particularly wanted to see her with Jack or Sawyer, but the embrace between Jack and Kate on the beach touched me. They're all in this predicament because Sawyer could not trust Jack; I'm eager to see how his story plays out, probably more than any of the other original Lostaways now.

I don't think the timelines will merge per se, but I hope we'll see people who ought to be together, together, in the other timeline. And I suspect we will see Jack on the beach with Faux Locke, the new force for good, trying to keep the cork in the bottle.

I welcome your thoughts and theories in the comments, even if they don't line up with mine.

Television

“Nothing is irreversible.”

Ben I am loving this final season of Lost. Especially Ben.

Or maybe I mean, especially Michael Emerson.

But also the return of the theme of redemption that seemed so important at the beginning of the series.

I'm not going to say anything more about it in this post, because I don't want to ruin anything for people who are time-shifting.

But if you want to come down to the comments and talk about it, I'll be there.