Friday, December 4, 2009

Maybe It's Nice, Maybe It's Not...

I am in Arizona. It is 3:30 in the morning and I am wide awake, being that it is 5:30in New York, my normal wake-up time. I am happy to be here for my adorable niece, who is so excited for her special day, her shining moment, the day that marks her definitive move toward maturity. When we arrived yesterday, any hassles we'd experienced with the inept security system at the Jet Blue terminal at Kennedy faded when I saw my niece with her hair blown out, looking every bit the big girl her Bat Mitvah shows she is.

"I look too old," she complained when I asked if she was 18 yet...

I laughed. "You don't want to look older?"

"No. I want to look like me."

She is awesome, happy in her own skin, her current self. I am glad I am here to witness it.

The funny thing is, though, much as I'm happy to be here, two back-to-back trips are tough. It seems, though, that I am not allowed to complain. I am lucky. "Must be nice..." everyone has said when I told them I was going away again, to another supposed warm-weather climate (though, strangely, the temperature here is almost the exact same as in New York.)

The other day I gave a gold star to arguably one of my most loyal fans who had abandoned reading the blog after she read that I was in Costa Rica.

"You bitch," she said, only slightly in jest when she saw me on the street the other day. "I can't believe you were in Costa Rica..."

We started chatting about it and I told her about something and then said, "Well, you read about it already..."

She shook her head. "No. I couldn't read after the first one, I was too angry and jealous."

"Nice," I said. What could I say? "Sorry?!" I offered. I gave her a big gold star and tips on where to go when she was able to take herself to Costa Rica.

I thought about it as I walked away, thought about the low numbers on my blog last week as I regaled people with the wonders of my rare luxury adventure. I had pegged it to it being the holidays, but now I wondered: did other people feel similarly angry and jealous? Maybe it was like why I don't read Vanity Fair or Vogue. Sometimes it can feel fun to live vicariously and sometimes it can just remind you where you're not.

The last few days, much as I've tried, as usual, to avoid the media, I have been forced to listen to the disgusting privacy-invading jokes and barbs about Tiger Woods. I was alerted to the story on the day it broke by my father, one of Tiger's biggest fans.

"He didn't do anything, he's squeaky clean," my Dad said. Without knowing anything, I knew that couldn't be true, that the media often lies but that stories are rarely totally fabricated.

"And what if he did cheat on his wife? Why do you care?" I asked. "You like him because he's a good golfer, don't you? What difference does it make what he does?"

My father sighed, loudly, over the phone. "He's a good person, Stephanie."

I laughed. "And he can't be a good person if he cheated on his wife? I don't agree. Life is complicated, and it's none of our business."

The problem is, in our society, we want to have heroes whose lives we hold up as perfect, who we can aspire to be, and we also want to see them fall, to see them punished for the mistakes we, in our own lives, would be punished for on a much smaller scale, in much smaller circles.

I can only imagine, based on my own limited experience with the "Must be nice" comments, how someone like Tiger Woods might feel. Sometimes, it doesn't feel completely nice but you can't complain when you have something enviable, you aren't really allowed because you are lucky.

For Tiger, obviously, despite his beautiful wife and children and money and talent in his chosen field (or the one chosen for him by his father) it isn't enough. All that he has doesn't cut it. That is spoiled, surely, but also reality, and real life is often so different from the pretty pictures others paint of a life they can really know nothing about. We can't understand how it feels from the inside of someone else's mind. Until the tell-all biography...And even then. There is so much behind any behavior we exhibit that we don't even understand ourselves, even when we sit down to try to examine it and share it.

I can only hope, optimistically, that the world moves on to another story and leaves the poor Woods family alone to deal with their personal problems. For they are personal, despite his fame and wealth as probably the most popular golfer ever. And, after all, who are we to judge? We admire these people who get to the top, fighting for what they want, then we are shocked that they go for what they want in every arena of their lives, that they are not satisfied standing still. Tiger gets a gold star, as does his wife, for trying to live their lives under a microscope, for trying to cope with all that they have to cope with while the world tells them they have everything.

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