Into The Wild Essay Belonging

Into The Wild Essay Belonging-15
I too had wanted those things, and when I met a man in my late 20s who was quiet and kind, I figured I had finally found it.I could picture the life I wanted so clearly: an old house on a dirt road, a kitchen table big enough for the kids to do their homework, a hammock in the shade, this kind and quiet man kissing my neck every morning before heading off to work.I couldn’t comprehend how this was different from the things we had done before.

I too had wanted those things, and when I met a man in my late 20s who was quiet and kind, I figured I had finally found it.I could picture the life I wanted so clearly: an old house on a dirt road, a kitchen table big enough for the kids to do their homework, a hammock in the shade, this kind and quiet man kissing my neck every morning before heading off to work.I couldn’t comprehend how this was different from the things we had done before.

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By the time I met Neil, my friends had all gotten married, one right after the other, then pregnant, one right after the other.

For a while, these differences didn’t come between us, because, for a while, I was on that same path.

I loved way she outlined the bubble letters on our art projects and cut pieces of construction paper into perfect circles.

I loved how she was always there with her short hair, driving the purple minivan whose license plate I memorized.

I liked Sean, too, but I can’t remember why other than the fact that he had hair that got blonder the longer he was in the sun, and that he liked a football team other than the Patriots. Jason was the best because his parents were divorced, which meant there were two families to love.

His father and stepmother invited me to their cocktail parties, took me to a New Year’s Eve dinner in New York City, brought me home when it was too late for Jason to drive, and paid me for painting the side of their house.But then, because these things sometimes happen — a short straw, a joker card pulled from the deck — I found out after five years that this kind and quiet man was not the kind of man I wanted to marry.He was the kind of man who kept secrets, the kind of man who had a hard time being honest, the kind of man who lied about the things he was doing when he wasn’t doing them with me.Their house was where I was introduced to life’s greatest luxuries: gas stoves, hummus, bread that wasn’t white, olives that weren’t black.“This girl is great,” I remember Jason’s father saying every time I offered to help with dinner, every time I set the table, every time I cleared my own dishes without being asked. She took me shopping to find an armchair, went for walks with me around the neighborhood, sat across from me at her kitchen table after September 11th and talked about how everything was terrible.A few minutes later, one of my friends finally wrote, “I can totally see why it’s hot to be in your position.” And then, in all caps, “I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE THE WIFE THOUGH.” “If I were the wife,” another one wrote, “I’d rip his fucking balls off.” Months later, my friends would tell me that they were worried when I told them I was sleeping with a married man.When it happened, though, it was hard for me to see anything in their texts other than the way the tone changed, the way the enthusiastic back and forth we had maintained for years had come to a standstill.But that night, sitting in my studio trying to think of how to respond, I pictured the new families they had formed — ones with husbands and children and homes in the suburbs. I felt far away from them then, left out and alone, a balloon that had slipped free from the bunch. I agreed to meet his wife, because, when I really asked myself why I didn’t want to meet her — it was weird, it might be uncomfortable, she might not be nice to me — all of my answers sounded hollow. When Alexis arrived, she slid into the booth across from me, took a sip from Neil’s beer, and exhaled loudly. She had made new friends — a group of young women in her area who all had children — but she had assured us that we were still her favorites.A few months later, when I was on my way to another residency, I found out for sure that Neil’s wife knew about me. But then I thought about all I had done in the past few months that I had never imagined myself doing: traveling around the country, living without a home, writing a book, being alone for long stretches of time. I met Neil at a dive bar down the street from his house, and we sat on the same side of the booth to wait for his wife. It’s just nice to have people who know what you’re going through, she said, and we had all pretended like we understood.It felt bold, freeing, revolutionary even, deciding at that age that any man I met would be temporary, short-term, intended only as a pit stop along the way to my next adventure.At first my friends were on board, asking for constant updates. For the first few months, we all lived vicariously through each other’s adventures.

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