Jul 18, 2006

Over the Pond, Day 2 -- Freedom, Choice, and Change

I am trying to finish my paper on Thomas Aquinas, but I keep sneaking peeks into one of my books, The Handmaid's Tale. It's a sad, scary, fascinating look at a possible dystopic future in which women are under strict societal control. One woman says of a movie theater in a previous time:

Women went there, women on their own, making up their minds. They wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone. These women could be undone; or not. They seemed to be able to choose. We seemed to be able to choose, then. We were a society dying, said Aunt Lydia, of too much choice.
It was interesting to read this as I sat alone, away from Miranda for the first substantial time since she joined us. Yesterday felt a bit surreal, being apart from her and being unable to check in (as Billy, Miranda and Tracey were flying to CA). I really missed them.
Yet I am having such a very good time. The fun hustle and bustle of a busy airport, watching people come and go. The quiet of this beautiful little university town, walking out of my advisor's office and seeing the cathedral rising up in front of me, where it's maintained its presence for almost 1000 years. The satisfaction of making significant progress with my advisor (and regaining the energy for the work). Taking a walk around the palace green and through the graveyard in the cathedral yard. Taking a nap. Having bangers and mash and a beer in the market square pub. Billy said, "Drink it in!", and that's just it. I feel like I'm drinking deeply after 12 months of just taking sips, of having just enough to keep me going, but not enough to be really refreshed.
But, I think the reason that it's so enjoyable it because it's a treat. This is not the tenor of my life anymore, and that's as it should be. My freedom, my choices and available options are entirely different than they were 12 months ago. This trip is like savoring a box of candy, perfect in this small dose, but no longer an everyday option. And that's OK.
In our society where we have more choices than we even realize, there's something settling and humbling in recognizing the limitations that accompany our lives. And that recognition makes the treats, when we get them, all the sweeter.
On that note, off to an early bed and a good, long sleep. To my crunchie, may God bless you and keep you.


Anonymous said...

Mentioned on Day 1 --now inspired to finish reading the Atwood book, which Fran gave me years ago. Especially topical in today's world. Passed a family at Park Meadows Mall, she was wearing a burka with only eyes uncovered. I respect her right to choose the right life for her, but it was chilling to think there are places where all women must follow this.
Keep writing --your comments and insights are wonderful. (This can be your journal)
Take care. Think of me when you attend early morning services at Durham Cathedral--wish I were there. Love Mom

melinda said...

love your insight...glad you're drinking it all in :)

Amanda Moore said...

The timing of this is incredible. I just got back from spending 5 days away from Henry -- the first overnight apart from him. You expressed exactly what I was feeling -- I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed myself, and I think it was precisely because it was a little refreshing taste of how I used to be my own person. I don't mind my new role in the least, but the return to pre-Henry days was more reinvigorating than draining. Enjoy yourself!