I have realized something.
Okay. So I watched “Breaking Bad” completely within the first year of my marriage.
We watched Breaking Bad.
I guess I’m at the point now where I forget to make the things I did plural when it’s actually “we” and not “I.”
I remember, the first run through the series being struck by Walter and his ability to lie, manipulate, and use those around him all in service to his continued ability to call himself a meth cook.
I mean it was more than that. Impotent old Walter preferred to be Heisenberg. But really the motivation is irrelevant. It all boiled down to the people around Walter becoming nothing more than resources to be used up in pursuit of the goal.
I remember saying to Mike that Walter was the devil. I should make clear that I love, LOVE Jesse Pinkman. Part of writing is having the ability to see and understand characters as real people. All good writers can make an audience see characters as three-dimensional. But when another writer encounters a masterfully rendered 3D character with whom they identify, in whom they recognize themselves, it’s nothing less than meeting a new friend.
I remember hating Walt not for what he did to his wife, or his kid, or his brother-in-law or his sister-in-law, or anyone else. But what he did to Jesse Pinkman?
Now, five years later, with two daughters and a pedophile ex-husband, I get Skylar a little more.
Because I remember thinking on that first run what a dumb bitch Skylar was for staying with shit eyes Walter after she found out he was trash.
And I keep going back to how, in the back of my mind, it was always nagging me. Mike could have a secret. Mike could be just like Walter. I knew he had his own darkness. But I’d known him as a tiny child. He couldn’t be a monster like Walter.
He wouldn’t nod his head when I looked at Walter, and said “man, what a piece of shit is he,” and agreed, and said, “yeah, total piece of shit,” if he was doing the same goddamn thing Walt was doing to Skylar, to me.
We recognize monsters.
Women are fierce creatures since we started burning our bras (it’s a turn of phrase, btw, because no one ever burned a bra during the women’s lib movement, they threw them in public trash cans but never burned them, fun fact) and saying #metoo.
We’re not supposed to take shit from our men. And we’re supposed to know when we’re being used.
On both counts, I failed.
And on at least one of those counts I chose to fail.
I chose to take the Skylar route.
I chose to be more Pinkman than I’d like to admit.
I guess there’s always the end of the series to look forward to.
In the meantime, though. The task has become to humanize my ex-husband so I can write this story. Because if I can’t render my characters as three-dimensional then there’s really no point in persisting.
Why couldn’t I have just been born with a gift for baristaing instead of writing?