11/4/13

Taking a Break . . .

Yes. Those are green tea KitKat bars. Yuhhhhmay!
There was this vaguely popular sitcom in the 90s and early 00s called "Friends" and on the show, if you've never seen it (you know this is all sarcasm, right?) there was this group of six friends in their 30s (for most of the show, I think?) and one set of them - Ross and Rachel - had this weird up/down love thing that ran the entirety of the show with one particularly awkward section where they "took a break" because their relationship was not going the way they wanted it to. 

Anywho, Ross had sex with another woman (I think the woman that worked at the copy shop (if I'm right, I'm going to be embarrassed and proud)) and when Rachel found out she was really upset because, well, she just thought they were on a break. I guess that meant no other activities with any other people.

Millions laughed that Thursday night but somewhere in America (and by somewhere I mean in thousands of homes) there was an awkward lilt in the chuckles as at least one person on the couch thought "Huh . . . a 'break' would be interesting."

Sure, sure, sure . . . you've seen the movie Hall Pass. That crap doesn't work (and by that I mean a movie about a Hall Pass) but you have still probably wondered what it would be like to "pause" a relationship, go do whatever you wanted to do and then come back to the relationship.

I'm not talking about physical or emotional affairs, necessarily, but I'm talking about the notion that you could leave a relationship and return to it exactly as it was with no repercussions when you were done with your "break".

Would you do it? Would your partner? What about a friendship? What about a parental relationship? What about colleagues? What about spiritual leaders? What about wives and husbands? Think about it . . . from both sides of the proposal - would you LET someone take a break? Do you think they would let YOU take a break?

Let's be more specific here . . . WHY would you want a break? What about any relationship in your life is not going the way you wanted that you want a break? Is it getting out of taking the trash to the curb? Is it no more laundry? Is it not having to smile by your husband's side at yet another work function you don't want to be at? So all of these things seem break worthy. You should be able to skip them every now and again and the world still spins.

How about bringing home a paycheck? You want to buy video games or bubble gum or a water balloon launcher instead of paying the mortgage. What about not showing up at an important client meeting when your colleagues expect you to make the pitch? What about just not showing up to bring home six kids from a Boy Scout camp out? Grey area on these ones, right? I mean the world would still spin but there would be questions . . . like how old are you that you have a mortgage and want to throw water balloons . . . and how much is a water balloon launcher anyway? Your mortgage?

So now let's get down to it for real. What about a sexual affair? 48 hours - no questions asked. What about an emotional affair? 48 problems shared and talked out with another - no questions asked. What about taking a year off from being a parent? And the kid won't resent you for it (remember - there are no repercussions in this hypothetical). What about running away with someone else for a few years and setting up a totally separate life and then, one day, just getting in the car and driving back to your old address in time for dinner? Would you bring a bottle of wine or some flowers?

I don't know why this is on my mind. I guess because I don't think even in a situation where I could get away with any of the above (and none of the above are even remotely interesting to me - except that damned water balloon launcher anyway) that I would. I don't think I would be able to enjoy any of it. I would not trust that my life would snap right back when the break was over. I would not trust me to let whatever freedom or indulgence the break brought just sort of "end" and I don't know if I would have enough clarity to accept it was over anyway. I think I'd just want another break in the future. 

I don't think I'm alone in this. Most people don't want pause buttons or breaks. They don't want a chance to just step away and burn calories. I don't know many people who would GRANT the above requests (despite some who might make the request) anyway. 

So, yeah, breaks aren't real. You don't get them. You can run out to the parking lot and have a quick smoke during the workday. You can gather your team around you at pee wee soccer to remind them which goal they are supposed to be kicking the ball at. You can hit the button on your remote long enough to run and pee or make more nachos. THOSE breaks and pauses are real . . . but not the ones in relationships.