Thursday, February 5, 2015

Royal Pains leads me to have an epiphany...

Last night, Bill and I were watching TV again.  Despite my recent postings about TV shows I've seen lately, we don't actually watch a lot of TV here in Germany.  It's mainly because I like to hang out on my computer and it faces away from the television.  I got bored with my computer yesterday, so I turned on my new Apple TV and experimented with Hulu Plus.  I had been a subscriber, but dropped my subscription when we were in Texas because we were U-Verse subscribers.  Now that we're in Germany and don't have cable, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and iTunes all come in handy.

First, I watched the Miss Universe pageant on Hulu Plus.  I don't know why, but beauty pageants have always been kind of fascinating for me, especially the ones involving international contestants.  I don't really like the way Donald Trump revamped the pageants.  In fact, it seemed like one long ad for Doral, the city near Miami, Florida where the contest was held.  That was the first time I'd watched Miss Universe in years.  When the pageant was over, I didn't want to watch anything that was going to upset me, so I avoided A&E shows like Intervention.

No... what I wanted to see what a good comedy-drama with likable characters.  So I decided to watch the pilot for Royal Pains.  I initially downloaded that show on iTunes in 2009 when it was brand new.   I ended up liking it and was hooked for a few years before I lost track of it and stopped watching.  Bill had also enjoyed that show when I was a regular viewer; so last night, I invited him to sit next to me and the dogs.

If you're not familiar with Royal Pains, here's the basic premise.  Dr. Hank Lawson is a brilliant doctor affiliated with a great hospital in New York City.  On his day off, he's playing basketball with a bunch of guys.  One of them collapses.  Hank accompanies the young man to the hospital where he is an esteemed physician.  Just after they arrive, a prominent "friend" of the hospital is delivered by ambulance.  Hank is ordered to work on the "friend", but Hank felt the young guy from the basketball game was in more critical condition.  He is reasonably sure the "friend" of the hospital will survive without his full attention.  He helps the kid and lets another doctor work on the hospital benefactor.

The kid lives, but the hospital bigwig dies, and Hank gets in serious trouble with the hospital's administration.   They fire him and he spends a month eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching bad TV.  It looks like he's lost everything important to him-- his career, his fiancee, and his possessions, which are repossessed as he wallows in his situation.  It looks like he'll never work in that city again.

Hank's brother, Evan, shows up and demands that Hank accompany him on a trip to The Hamptons.  Hank doesn't want to go, but Evan insists.  Eventually, Hank relents and goes with Evan to this playground for the rich.  While at a party hosted by a rich German guy, Hank saves someone's life.  The rich German's concierge doctor misdiagnoses a woman who passed out at the party, incorrectly assuming she'd overdosed on drugs when she'd actually been exposed to a toxic pesticide.  Hank pushes the other doctor aside and instantly makes a name for himself as a great doctor.

Pretty soon, Hank finds himself being beckoned to relocate and start anew.  He soon finds out that what he had in New York City wasn't all that awesome.  Evan, who is an accountant, helps Hank start a new business catering to eccentric rich people in The Hamptons, most of whom are nicer than one would expect them to be.  The rich folks, who can afford the very best care but curiously live in a place where the local hospital sucks, now have a new concierge doctor who's super smart and has odd McGyver like abilities to turn everyday objects into effective medical tools.  Thus, a successful TV show was born and still running eight seasons later.



It dawned on me last night that, in a weird way, Bill and I have had a situation kind of similar to Hank Lawson's.  When we met, we were living lives that seemed like they were what we'd want.  Bill was married to his first wife and had two daughters and a stepson who was calling him Dad.  They'd been through some serious issues and their relationship was on the skids.  Like Hank trying to hang on to his career pandering to hospital administrators in New York City, Bill was trying very hard to hang on to his marriage, even to the point of joining the LDS church in a bid to appease his ex.  He didn't believe in the church, but the thought of losing his family was unbearable to him.  So he sucked it up and endured what was really a bad situation that would have eventually led to his ruin.

I, on the other hand, was finishing two master's degrees in fields that I found interesting, but for which I had no real passion or aptitude.  Had I not met Bill, it's likely that I would have gotten a job in South Carolina or maybe Atlanta working in public health, social work, or both.  I might have stayed there for a very long time and probably would have been stuck in a soul sucking job that bored me.  The work I was doing in South Carolina was occasionally interesting and educational, but I would have been caught up in a bureaucracy that I'm sure would have been a drag in the long run.  I would definitely not trade it for the life I have right now.

It was scary for Bill to divorce his ex wife and re-engage in his Army career.  He lost his daughters, perhaps forever, because he decided to stop trying to polish the turd that was his first marriage.  It was scary for me to marry a man who had a seriously nutty ex wife who had taken him through bankruptcy and foreclosure and had hostile children.  I ended up losing that career opportunity that I had worked so hard for in graduate school.  I also lost the chance to be a mother.

But, my GOD, look at our life together!  I pretty much do whatever I want to most days.  I have a husband who loves me and whom I love back.  I have adorable dogs to hang out with and I get to live in a beautiful country in Europe.  Bill is doing work that he enjoys and is good at and he lives in a place he loves with someone he loves who loves him in return.

It was scary for me to let go of what I thought my life should be.  I resisted it at first.  But, just like Hank Lawson, I eventually gave in to a new reality.  Bill and I now have a life that is better than it might have been.  This doesn't mean that things can't change.  You never know when things will go awry.  All I know is that for Bill and me, it was a good thing to let go and see where life took us.  We're in a good place... a better place than where we were when we first met and were trying to hold on to what we thought we wanted and needed.

I think we'll get back into watching Royal Pains.  It's bound to be less potentially dramatic than reality TV.  Sometimes, it even leads to deep thoughts.   

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