“But it is nobler and more perfect to be at rest than to be moved. Therefore, the highest sphere ought to be at rest…”
-John Buridan, early 14th Century
Imogen walked into her red dining room and found Mark at the table, hunched over a clear glass ball. She could see that there were small objects inside the globe, layers within layers. An onion of crystal and porcelain, resting in her husband’s palms. Like he was God. The scrunch between his nose and eyes kept pushing down his glasses, and his mouth was pulled up into a rabbit-like sneer. Ugly, sort of, but indicative of deep concentration. So motivated. She knew he outshone her.
It felt like years since Imogen’s fall from grace into structureless living, into raw and dirty living. An enjoyable and productive summer, ending all too soon, decided for her that thirty was the perfect age at which to take a hiatus. No shifts or classes wormed into her time, though her schedule was full of holes. The frills and pretensions that came packaged with occupational success held no place with the gardening and sock sorting. Imogen’s days became longer and quieter, so that she was certain the ages were passing. Years escaped her. But really it had only been since the autumn, and the snow had only just begun to stick.
There was nothing else to do. “What is that?” she asked Mark. “That ball has little people in it.”
“A very complicated project, my love. I am trying to explain the development of world religions to a band of eleventh graders, and am resorting to an antique model. I wish I could let them hold it, but it belongs to Dr. Wade, and is very old.” Mark held the ball up at eye level in his left hand, raising his eyebrows and squinting his eyes. The rabbit sneer was gone, but he looked sinister, nonetheless, and said, “They don’t deserve to be God.” She could predict him.
“What I was thinking exactly. Shall we go out for dinner? Or there is left over macaroni.”
“Out. I ate the macaroni for lunch.”
Mark and Imogen met when they were both twenty-four. He was in grad school and she was a lingering junior, hoping to stick with a major, any major, for the duration of its program. Too many choices, not enough fiery passion. Imogen could not decide if it was worse to be ungraduated and unemployed or cashing in a paycheck that reminded her of discontent with every signing. There was nothing she could do for big money anyway. With British history, resurrected bog bodies, and the evolution of color in film as her major interests, she knew that the options remained teacher or professional student. Both remained undesirable.
Mark worked as a teaching assistant to one of her history professors, and claimed later that it was her papers that attracted him to Imogen.
“You always chose such weird topics. ‘The Advent of Wool’, ‘Pediatrics in Early Spain’, ‘Gothic Sex’. Christ, how could I resist?”
“I can give you good reasons for each title, and it would have more to do with modern civilization than your current understanding of female anatomy does.”
“Burn. My love, she cut me deep!”
Three years later they married. Imogen took a semester off to plan her new life and didn’t go back for another two years. Now here they were, Mark’s plans for his Ph.D. scrapped and replaced by a calling to teach teenagers, and Imogen working her way through to a history degree. But not at the moment. Today was about catching up on mail.
Imogen told herself that it wasn’t stagnancy, but primitive and sometimes creative needs that kept her from spending more than three consecutive semesters enrolled. Her physical and emotional states changed with marriage and home ownership and age. It only made sense that her academic pursuits would adapt. And that was that.
Photo courtesy of godandscience.org