It is a truth worth acknowledging that there still exists a panoply of women who model their relationships after Carrie and Big’s.
The model rarely changes. She is emotionally confused; he is hot, cold, lukewarm, hot again, then cold before he’s gone like a Sour Patch Kid that couldn’t handle its own sweetness. And because in Sex and the City‘s penultimate moment, Carrie ends up with Big, it gets worse. This panoply of women genuinely believe that anxiety, frustration, question marks and turmoil make up what relationships are supposed to look like.
Observe the following paraphrased scene from the second season of the show: Carrie is sitting cross-legged in a comfortable chair looking out a window from her apartment, martini glass in one hand, portable landline in the other. She looks calm, but once she starts pounding on buttons, the martini glass flies and boom! She’s shouting into Big’s ear at 5 a.m., “I am a wo-man — a wo-man.”
This was in relation to his decision to leave to Paris for six months without explicitly telling her or providing her with an opportunity to weigh in on the decision, which is super fucked up, yes, and good on her for defending herself, but what red flag beams so loudly as the one that reveals that your partner is crossing continents incognito? Lest we forget this happened again in season five when, post-Aidan (her most sound decision) and affair (why, Carrie! Why!), Big went to Napa and left behind a shady ticket for her to come visit. On it read, “For when I get lonely.” She smirked like it was cute but, I don’t know, Carrie. You’re not a prostitute?
Aidan brings me to another interesting point. There are two finite schools of fandom among Sex and the City viewers: those who cheered for Big and those who cheered for Aidan. Those who cheered for Aidan, I have realized, respect themselves far more than those who did for Big.
Admittedly, I was a big Big fan. I am inclined toward the manipulation of a script and a show’s directorial pursuits, and the sauce! The drama! The steam that Big brought, it made for much better television than Aidan’s fried chicken and cherry wood love seats. Those two were always talking to each other in rhyme, he in his slightly Southern accent of unknown origin and she as his “booth bitch.” It was corny and kind of annoying but the man offered to sand her floors. He wanted to introduce her to his parents and took all the familiar question marks that arise in the early stages of a relationship and gave them answers. He carved a chair from a big block of wood and turned it into a wedding gift for Carrie’s friend! That’s so real. But also, I guess, kind of boring.
Of course, television isn’t life and in your personal narrative — the one where you end up in love, first and far more importantly with yourself and then sometimes maybe, also, with someone else — it should feel like smooth sailing down the g-dang Suez Canal, not a tango through Niagara Falls. In life, boring is good. It’s not actually boring. Do people understand this?
I, for one, did not. I married an Aidan, yes, but that’s because I got lucky. Originally, I thought he was a Big. This is chiefly because he broke up with me before I was ready for that to happen and as a result, I experienced the fluctuation of Big doubts and tangled emotions. But these were self-imposed, I now realize. My husband was always very explicit about his impetus and even three-years post separation — a time during which we still had plenty of sex — when we got back together, he laid on the table that he was 25 and could not imagine that this reunion would be “it.”
I did not tell him this at the time, but I knew that if it wasn’t, I would never recover and thus have to murder him. But once volume two of our relationship got going, I felt like something was missing. I told my girlfriends that the spark had died. I even considered breaking up with him, but that would have been foolish.
It wasn’t a “spark” that was gone. It was the neurotic stories that I fed to myself during the previous three years. Back together, I always knew where he was. I never wondered when he might next reach out. I didn’t question what he was doing on his phone when he used it and I didn’t have to ask how he felt about me. I knew! All the hard stuff became quite simple and I almost disposed of it because I briefly mistook his Aidan for an absence of Big passion.
There is a piece of intel that is not often shared about companionship and when you know a relationship is right: when it is, everything feels easier. There are no question marks because the answers are in. The drama is null, the sauce is reliable (like pesto! Never not delicious) and the steam? Still there when you take hot showers.
Images via HBO