Luke and I went to see Babel during his day off on Friday. I should have clued him in on the 21 Grams connection and all the intensity.
(Do you know how much I love that he's movie connoisseur enough to have seen 21 Grams, plus more mainstream flicks than I? I just need to fill in the indie gaps. Well, as basic disagreements between us go, he's a Princess Bride type, which I hate, and I'm a Spinal Tap type, which he hates.)
Coming out of the flick, I didn't anticipate his comment that he goes to movies to be entertained, not stressed. Although I didn't think to say it, but I believe that if a movie stressed you, it did it's job successfully. It was a stressful movie. Painful. He's a sensitive person and a father. I'd worry if it didn't get to him. The teenaged Japanese girl in Babel is so much like L, it is scary: same desperation and hunger for, while simultaneously shunning, affection. L was the text for her expressions as well.
I felt a Babel moment during the movie. There was an expressive woman sitting behind us, reacting to every nuance in the movie. When a guy got a call via a silenced phone and began to walk out, I noticed it only when he got on the large aisle in front of me. While I was able to faintly tell he was whispering, I could tell nothing more. Fine, he got a call and he was handling it quite unobtrusively. At the same point I noticed him, so after the guy had already answered and begun his call and his exit, the woman behind me noticed him and hissed a loud, "Shhhhhhhhhhh" that was so very counter indicated, I wanted to wring her neck and stop her Babel/babble self from making any noise at all. I call it redundancy; I hate people who just want to hear themselves talk/hiss/get the last word.
It was a good movie and I recommend it.
On Saturday, Luke met my son and Norma. Norma's son was singing in a chorus and she gave us free tickets. I figured that sharing a dose of religion with him would be good, even if it was Mormon, something he's not. He had a quizzical look as he tried to digest how Norma could be Mormon and me atheist, yet we could be friends and not hide our perspectives.
I would hope it could be a model for his and my "relationship." Although a relatively liberal Democrat, he is a faith-driven person, a characteristic which is too often associated with the right. He is presently attending a denomination that encourages Bible study and he goes several times each week; I would generally characterize it as a right-leaning denomination, although I personally know there are more liberal ones out there. This is the same denomination as ex grew up in, so I am well familiar with it.
Luke, however, is not enjoying some aspects of this church/preacher and me suggesting that he try my old denomination was a light for him. In fact, during the day between two big evening fights last week, I looked up the local churches of this denomination to determine what they're like and perhaps find one with classes in the evening. (Me having done that was actually a turning point in the second fight.) These churches don't have a host of classes, except for perhaps one Wednesday mornings, retiree and SAHM times. I kind of thought that maybe he could double dip for a while taking classes (to include Sunday School) at one and attending another; I'd done that while I was first exploring my denomination over 15 years ago.
He said he'd be willing to investigate another denomination, mine, if I would go with him. I only hesitated a moment, but then I said I would. I don't really need a dose of religion, but I would like a dose of the liturgy. I would feel a rush of the familiar and safe, not a rush of God, but then God says you receive Him whether you want to or not. I don't really want to, but I want to share something with Luke that is important to him. As of yet, I am unclear of Luke's motivation - religious activities partner or conversion? - but I am willing and able to play along for now and I have largely been able to choke back the religious sarcasm I spew here.
I will say that I can play along with Norma, too, going to Easter egg hunts and the like. The sandpaper comes not from Norma, but from the nosy, syrupy, and presumptuous fellow church goers. I could see that dynamic with Luke.
Supposedly at the outset with Luke, my religion or lack thereof was not a deal breaker; his first wife was a non-practicing Jew, second the denomination he is currently in, and third a minimally practicing Muslim. I don't want to be coerced into religious practices, just like I don't want to be stressed out by over exposure and default to spewing anti-religion, when I actually do respect his pursuit of whatever angle he wants. I respect from a distance; I just don't yet know how great a distance.
During the week, I said we'd go next Sunday, when I don't have J. During our lunch together before the performance Saturday, he asked if we could go this Sunday, today. I declined.
I'll explain. Luke had been concerned about J's reaction to meeting him, how momentous it might be. J takes things in stride and I think that's because he already has a dad who is very attentive. J's goal with me dating doesn't really involve him; he tells me, "Mom, I just want you to be happy," if I ever quiz him.
On the flip side, Luke is concerned about his boys and keeping it cool between us while they're here - it's six weeks away, so he's really planning ahead. Apparently, his boys went home and blabbed about witnessing a kiss between Luke and his summer romance. I respect he doesn't want to appear as if he's going through one woman after the other since moving here. I also know that with his eyes and smile and attention, it'd be tough for him to hide his affection for me.
My son is grounded in these matters, even when he was Luke's boys' ages. What would rock his world would be sudden church attendance happening because of who I am dating. That would go beyond me being happy while dating and introduce Sunday School and new thought patterns, things the I fear would swing Fundamentalist because of his grandmother and cousins' influence. I've said before that I do not want to discourage him from religion, as I see a knowledge of it making one fit better in Western society, but I really don't want to be the one to have to do it.
Luke had asked previously if J wanted to go to church, would I take him? I replied that ex has just as many weekends as I do, so I would want the responsibility to fall to ex. The thing is, although ex became my old denomination, I believe his wife is the one the Luke is attending now. It's not really the brand I would prefer for J to learn. The best way for J to get the version I prefer, I'd need to do it. Ironic, the atheist needs to do the guiding with what is deemed a necessary evil. I just don't want J to get anything toward the Fundamentalist end of the spectrum.
All in all, things are very good. Today we had an extended phone conversation without fighting. I see us as beyond a novelty. Honestly, I think the substance is there, but I am not ready to declare it. He's in the same position. In the modern dating world, it isn't asking someone to go steady like in junior high, it is getting to a point you want to pull your ad online. I am certainly to that point and said so in so many words today, but I am not willing to take that step until some more time has passed. The time would not be in order to try to meet someone else; it would be in getting used to change.
As I was leaving my therapist's on Wednesday, after I'd talked about him for 45 minutes and was quite embarrassed at the speed of our attachment, she quipped, "Next thing I know, you'll have run off to Vegas this weekend and gotten married." It's so much fun to think in those terms, but I very much don't want to cheapen us by moving at record speed. I prefer to be led kicking and screaming, but Luke has made falling for him so easy, whilst we are so difficult and butt heads. I like the challenge, which is quite an enjoyable one actually.