[Title from Florence + the Machine's "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)".]
Start Rushing Towards the Skyline
Sometimes you look in on Tammy just to see her. You can't imagine anything more perfect, more innocent, or more real than she is. Things are finally the way you always wanted them to be.
Well. There's always room for improvement, of course. One day your Peter will be full partner - you can picture the frosted glass on the doors, SCCDP or some other ghastly acronym. That's not your job, though. That's his.
Yours is so much easier. The wife isn't the linchpin of the marriage, of the life. She's the cornerstone. All you have to do is stay in your place.
Divorce. It's an ugly word, an uglier thing, and you can't imagine why or even how someone would reach that point. What could Betty Draper have done... well. She did remarry so quickly.
Awful business with Don's family not long ago. Oh, but you like Megan, and she's a welcome change from Betty, after all, with her made-up lips pinched tightly like the mouth of a coin purse in the hands of a miser, even when she smiled.
Gertrude, you are not going to be one of those women who speculates and draws conclusions on other people's lives behind a thin and silent smile. That sort of thinking is for afternoon coffee with the girls.
The point is, all a woman has to do is be present. Be happy. Be strong.
You have no illusions that Peter is perfect, for example, but he's perfect for you. You're perfect, the both of you, as one. The Campbells.
You never dreamed it would be easy. Your father wasn't perfect, Peter could never hope to be (insensitive, thoughtless clod he can be), but marriage isn't about perfection. It's about creating something. A partnership. A life. And no one said that was going to be pretty.
New things are made every day, new companies, new countries, new laws, and no one expects them to make everyone involved happy. Why should a marriage?
Some mornings, you look at the ceiling with Tammy resting on the bed beside you and wonder about the way things were and the way things will be. But then you get up, freshen up, prepare for the day, and send a smile to your reflection.
"Tweety," is all he has to say when he comes into the house, and your loneliness evaporates like flash steam. Your exhaustion, your fear, your silly worries are gone. Just the briefest kiss at 6:35 before the baby realizes Daddy's home, his lips against yours, and you smile.
He doesn't smile. Not the way that you do. It's a sign of his gravitas. You wouldn't respect him if he cooed and fussed over you like a child, and who wants a husband who paws at you or begs for your attention like a dog for scraps of what you have left to spare?
You're his, and he's yours. That's the point. Who needs anything else?
You don't think. All those hours you have to yourself, you don't think. You won't. Betty Friedan and her book are for women without a strong constitution, women who can't keep their man happy. The Feminine Mystique is a myth created by the unstable and the weak.
"Daddy will be home soon, princess," you chirp at Tammy. And he will be. And when he's gone, a husband will be there for her, too. So goes the world.
"We love you."
But she's perfect. They say soon after the baby is born you get too attached, and give you more pills, but she really is gorgeous, Peter, she's special, she reminds me of you. She deserves more than cursory looks, more than a smile as quick as a camera flash. She deserves -
This is over.
You meet his gaze across the dinner table and smile, and he gazes back with love, or something.
At least there's that.
He doesn't sleep, not the way he used to, solidly there and silent like a rock. Now he tosses and turns, and there's really nothing for you to say. Nothing that he couldn't easily answer.
You're overthinking things, Tweety. Take some time for yourself tomorrow.
Sometimes, you frivolously wish there was a flash of flame between the two of you. Not just now - ever. But touches and blushes and intensity, that's not love, Trudy. Fidelity is. Partnership.
(It devastates you, how every touch is feather-light, and now that you have what you want, he - )
The air feels stale this summer. You begin to dream of the future, of taking Tammy to school, her first words, the dresses you can buy.
You press her to your chest. Your heartbeat cries to her.
Barely a year and she understands you. This is love.
He insists he needs to learn to drive. There's no reason for you to protest, so you allow it, as much as you allow anything. A car is no problem. It's more time away, more plates left in the oven waiting for him, but, nothing. It's his decision.
He wants to feel independent, you explain to your neighbor Nancy, and she laughs.
He comes home stinking of alcohol, but you've had your prescriptions. There's no judgment in a marriage.
He lays on the bed next to you, flat on his back, distracted, and you mouth the words I love you into your pillow as silently as you can manage. Only then can you close your eyes and succumb to the relief of sleeping pills.
You're not stupid. Something's happened. You're his wife, how on Earth would you not have noticed something like this happening? But to draw conclusions until he tells you anything is trouble. To not trust him...
Don't say a word, clever girl.
It's not what you think. You give him what he wants, once a week every week, just the way he likes it, your breathless pleas for every bit of him. Stay with me, Peter. He has no reason to -
No, no, no.
The doctor says things will be better after this dosage, but nothing changes in that everything's changed. Like the ocean, things are constantly moving and changing in Pete's thoughts, the currents taking him this place and that without her, the colors of his thoughts shifting from blue to green to clear, the shapes of his cresting frustration different every moment the wind shifts.
It doesn't ache. You don't wonder. He's free, and you trust him, and you have done and will always do all you can.
It has to be enough.