This is our truth, tell us yours
Doublemeat Palace is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where her dreams come true. She works in a minimum wage job, tired and overstressed in a desperate attempt to pay off debts and support her family. She fucks Spike in the alley on her break, the kind of soulless sex where feeling anything is better than the numbness. The greyness of the day-to-day grind causes her to believe that there is something monstrous in the burgers, even as her friends point out that she is looking for a mystery to give things more meaning.
Doesn’t sound like a dream come true? Buffy’s complaint is she just wants to be a normal girl, living a normal life, without the responsibilities of the Slayer, finally she gets to see what that is like. If Buffy is not your cup of tea perhaps this expressed the thing in a more palatable form. Of course you don’t have to be the Slayer to have that moment when you realise this is it, this is real life. You might have been on the cheerleading team in highschool but 10 years on its working for a minimum wage as day follows day and dreams wither away.
Part of being a grown up, which is the arc of series 6, is recognizing that this is it, to combine clichés, life is not a rehearsal for Hamlet. Certain events can cause us to dwell on these realities, a birth, a death. a marriage, graduation or leaving home. They are moments when we are told to look forward to the future however they are rooted in our pasts, and how we feel about these pathway moments is largely based on how we feel about the past. Not simply regrets, which I have written about before, but the might have beens, if onlys, and that;s the way it is. Carter wrote beautifully at the weekend of his own accommodations with his past, and his acceptance of who he is now based on who he was then.
Even as I read I was reminded of Erikson’s Stages of Development, I don’t think it is giving anything away to say both Carter and I are in the stage marked Generativity v Self absorption or stagnation. It’s a feature of the modern world that the ages Erikson originally put on his stages need to have about ten years added to them, youth extends to the late twenties, old age begins so much later. However his understanding that we reach a point where we need to know we have made a difference, and can look back with some sense that our passage on this earth matters, remains.
We might work at the doublemeat palace, earn little, fall into our beds exhausted, and the monsters we have to slay might be in our minds, but it is still the case that the meaning will come in the relationships we have with those around us. Be it a desperate up against the bins fuck, friendship, children, lovers, family or workmates it’s the relationship with others that gives meaning,that will allow us when we look back to say yes, it was worth it.