Happy Mother’s Day to the mum of my teen years. AKA Scully of The X Files.
I’m in a B&B in Stratford Upon Avon. Normally I’d be at home, but because of unwanted visitors, I implemented self-respect and decided to leave. I had intended to use the time to get previously published books self-published after the demise of the publisher. Normally, I’d be staying in Cardiff at my friends’ B&B, but being Mother’s Day and rugby season they aren’t free for my last minute choice. While I was initially sad at not seeing my friends, I rationalised that I wouldn’t get much work done as I’d be too busy laughing in front of a log fire with them. And, Stratford is renowned for a particular playwright – if I’m not inspired to publish here, I’m due for a career change. Or a mid-life crisis in the shadow of an eclipse.
Four weeks ago, I found out about the Impending Visitor, and The X Files returned to UK TV screens. This is the first time I’ve talked about The X Files since my illness onset in 2001. Seasons 8 and 9, and the 2008 film I Want To Believe are not in my memories. I couldn’t tell you if I watched them when they first aired on the BBC or at the cinema. But the first seven seasons, I was extremely passionate about. The characters and relationship of Mulder and Scully defined my teenage years, and it seems a coincidence that my life changed dramatically when they weren’t a leading duo in the show, and that I’m pretty recovered in time for season X when they are back together (read that as you will).
Four days ago, I typed “X Files relationship” into the digital ether. I then lost 27 consecutive hours of my life watching clips of the show, opening my DVD box set for the first time since I got it (before 2005), and reading X Philes blogs. I knew this would happen. I also knew if I didn’t cover my recent history icons before finding the delete button that another 27 hours would go the same way, and I was right. Why buy a DVD boxset if you weren’t well enough to watch it? I hear you ask. Because I wanted to believe that my debilitating fatigue would end. I wanted to believe that my life could once again have elements that I was deeply passionate about. And trust me when I say I’m passionate about Mulder and Scully.
I knew the binge was coming, but what I didn’t expect was to have exactly the same emotional response to the clips. Clips taken out of context of their episodes, their seasons, and their decade. A clip in particular is from the 1998 film Fight the Future – the infamous hallway scene. Sixteen years ago, I couldn’t watch the first with my eyes fully open – I either squinted, partly looked away, or had a cushion in front of me. I felt like I wasn’t worthy to witness something so pure and beautiful. Simultaneously, I had to watch because Mulder and Scully had eye conversations. I don’t mean meaningful glances. I mean whole, complex conversations with their eyes. It’s a relationship that transcends explanation. You either feel it, or you don’t. I was engrossed to the point I stopped breathing, which was very easy as a teenager as I spent a lot of time swimming underwater.
This weekend has unexpectedly been about sticking my pre and post 2001 lives into a narrative whole. I could call it #mystruggle when the only struggle has been remembering that I have physical input and output needs, because I quickly shed the self-imposed deadline for my books. If I’d done this any sooner, my health would be suffering. My lungs couldn’t retain much air, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. As it is, my eyes are bright and shining, I have a skip in my step, a heart bursting with squee that’s bubbling out my mouth as laughter. Somebody asked me if I’d set a date for the wedding. Someone else asked when my due date was. They seemed perturbed that I could have strong, positive reactions to fictional entities from twenty years ago.
My desktop image reflects what I need. Since last November, it’s been a soft lit black and white image of two women gently embracing on a bed between crumpled sheets. This was because of being sexually assaulted twice in as many days by two different men. I needed something gentle and abstract to remind me that not every person I saw was going to touch me without consent for their selfish gain. I had to re-compartmentalise the paedophile family member memories from my childhood, to remember I’m a survivor and not a victim. I had to keep separate the current Unwanted Visitor issue, as once again my biological family insist on bringing people into my home that cause damage to my health.
Today, I changed my desktop to Mulder and Scully. I say Mulder and Scully. What I mean are the actors who portray them doing a photoshoot on a permanent set – Mulder’s home. If this was a still from season 10/X, sentient alien oil that can move would be realised as everyone who can feel the love between Mulder and Scully would spontaneously turn into a pile of goo. Until this week, I thought it was just me, but it seems to be people my age or who were teenagers in the 1990s who have the relevant gene/planetary alignment/good fortune to be part of this her-story. People older and younger recognise that it’s there, but there are age specific kindred spirits who are born of the ultimate X-File of the show. We are Mulder and Scully’s love children.
I had that epiphany this morning. I believe we see things when we’re ready to, and today I realised I had fictional foster parents in my teenage years. I was content to let that be mine, until I set the desktop and realised it was 10.13am. The entire process of finding a new image to the point of setting it happened in one minute, with five seconds to press the screencap button to document the truth. It said 10.14am when it asked if I wanted to view my screencap. I just got it. That was when I decided to share it with the digital ether, and anyone crazy enough to listen.
As it’s Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank my fictional foster parents for inspiring my love of long coats, for telling me it’s okay to have red head heritage, that it’s possible to learn a new skill by reading a book or observing a demonstration, that being 5’4” tall is okay, that I can have epic qualifications, that I can see in dark, that my low centre of gravity means I can own people in a fight, that men have a greater emotional range than aggression and mechanical sex, that nudity is not consent, that marriage is unnecessary, that it’s safe to be vulnerable, that listening is different to agreeing, that physical touch is not inherently sexual, that my intuition is just as important as my puzzle solving, that deadpan delivery of sarcasm at barely audible levels gets noticed, that having an epic laugh gets past the worst jokes, that you can never own enough satin pyjamas. Or satin boxer shorts.
It’s good to be home. Even if I keep sliding off the bed and giving myself a wedgie in the process. The view of the plallic theatre tower seems strangely apt. I may do a purple prose monologue.