"For now, I will continue to write as an outsider."
That line is from yesterday's blog. Brenda correctly pointed out that the sentence is replete with meaning. All we expatriates write as outsiders. Eternal observers.
At lunch earlier this week, we played a little game. Which character in a book, film, or play do you most identify with? Not, who do you want to be. Who do you identify with.
For me, it was easy. Since 1970, I have identified with Bobby from Company. One of Stephen Sondheim's better productions.
The conceit is simple. Bobby is a single guy unable to commit to any relationships -- except for his deep friendship with his married friends. Five married couples with unique backgrounds. The wives want to find him a woman. The men want to hear about his girlfriends.
Of course, the subtext is layers deep. On the surface, the plot revolves around the intricacies of marriage. But it is a masterpiece about the complexity of relationships. Where we find our worth.
Marry me a little,
Love me just enough.
Cry, but not too often,
Play, but not too rough.
Keep a tender distance
so we'll both be free.
That's the way it ought to be.
The thing I missed most during the last year in Mexico was the network of friends I have developed over the years. Ironically, I discovered I had started the foundation of a new network in Melaque when I broke my ankle. Just as I was leaving for six months.
But the network up here is different. Probably, because of it vintage. Some of my friendships go back to grade school.
And most are couples. But the type of couples you can be away from for a long time, but pick up a conversation as if you had seen them the day before.
They are always there for me. Whenever I need them. For dinner. For plays. For sporting events.
And always concerned that I am somehow handicapped without a wife in my life. At least, that is what my women friends believe. The men seem to believe that Sondheim had it correct in answering the question: Are you happy being married?
You're always sorry
You're always grateful
You're always wondering what might have been
Then she walks in
But this is my favorite couplet from the same song:
You always are
What you always were
Which has nothing to do with
All to do with her
So, what does all this have to do with writing as an outsider?
Relationships fascinate me. But, just as I am an expatriate observer in Mexico, I am every bit an observer of married life.
And I am starting to wonder if both are immutable categories.