For distraction, I have been watching the Netflix series Away. It is about a crew of astronauts who embark on a 3-year trip to Mars. The commander is played by Hillary Swank, who I first fell in love with in the movie Boys Don’t Cry, which came out in 1999 about the time I was coming out.
The episode I watched tonight was the “Christmas” episode. I have to admit I cried through much of it. There is so much loss by the crew and their families. But I was struck most by Swank’s character and also by Misha, the Russian cosmonaut who lost his relationship with his daughter because he felt compelled to prioritize “space” over her. And Swank is feeling great angst about the effect the long absence will have on her young teenage daughter during some critical years. And all the crew realize that there is a chance they will never return to Earth and their families.
I cried because I can see myself and my daughter reflected in Hillary and Misha and their daughters. No matter how much Misha tries to bridge the gap between himself and his daughter, she will not totally forgive him for leaving her for space. And Swank is thinking much the same: did her zeal for space result in a permanent barrier between her and her daughter.
Now I am no astronaut. But I made a decision 20-something years ago to leave my old life in search of one I thought I should have, regardless of the impact on my family. In many ways, that was selfish.
Today, I am not at peace with that decision. I and my family lost a lot because of it. Though I do feel that time has sanded away some of the rough edges with our relationship, I feel so very much alone. In all these 20+ years, I have never felt any attraction to anyone, nothing approaching what I felt for my Ex. Until I moved south to be closer to my daughter, I could count on my hands the number of hugs I had in those 20 years.
I don’t know if Swank will be able to return to her family or not. But I do know I feel I am lost in space. I unhooked my tether and I have floated away.