I’ve been watching Outlander lately. For the uninitiated, it’s a series based on a novel. Essentially feminist porn, with all the psychological and emotional backstory that we women need to make the sex sing (ok, maybe not all women but certainly me). There’s time-travel (which is the reason I don’t have tattoos, just in case I ever get the opportunity), loads of Scottish accents (be still my heart), and an extremely hunky, deep-feeling Scottish laird (more beefcake than I usually go for but I would NOT kick him out of bed for eating crackers). The entire series (and the novels it’s based on) is from a female gaze. And so the heroine is brunette instead of blond, she is whip-smart and mouthy, sometimes she is appropriately unwashed and uncoiffed. Rape lurks, because, for us ladies, it does. She often saves herself, though sometimes she can’t. Because sometimes we can’t.
I was binging last night, under a quilt, stitching cashmere, cats curled against me, glass of wine nearby. Claire, our heroine, told Jamie, our beefcake, the whole truth about her time-travel, about her other husband in her other time. She risked his love by fully revealing herself. And suddenly I was gushing tears.
What touched me was that when she told him her story, unvarnished and unabridged, he listened, quietly, compassionately, for hours. And when she was finally spent, she had the great luxury of being understood. And that, I realized, more than romance, more than sex, is what I miss. Having a partner to listen to every word, to love me even with all my mistakes, all my mis-steps, to help me carry the load of my story. I imagined what it’d be like to tell someone everything that’s happened since Mihiretu’s adoption, every twist and turn, every heartbreak, and to have that person, that man (because God help me I can’t talk myself out of being straight), hear it all, feel it all with me, for me, just as I would do for him, with his story.
I have such beautiful friends. They carry parts of my story, some more parts than others. But I’m not talking about friendship. I’m talking about a love relationship, a partnership, a last-person-you-talk-to-at-night, first-person-you-talk-to-in-the-morning, a one-stop-shop, someone you are naked with, in every sense. Because, as you know because you carry your own story, it’s a lot to hold alone.
An outlander is someone who stands outside society, a foreigner, a stranger. I think we all have our outlander moments. And I think we all want to come in out of the cold, to be home. Sometimes that home resides, at least partially, in another person. I’ve been an outlander, these last years, there’s no doubt. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I want to belong. I want someone to understand my foreign tongue, to make sense of it, because they love me.