Once and Again
Boy Meets Girl

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Boy Meets Girl

Cut to Lily standing in a bathroom that's bigger than my whole apartment. She's in front of a gleaming white pedestal sink (one of two), staring at herself and, I imagine, trying to figure out what the hell her life has become.

Rick, meanwhile, is straining toward consciousness in his bed on the other side of town. His alarm clock bleats, bleats, bleats, grating on my last nerve. Finally, he leans over to shut it off, and the camera catches a glimpse of the family pictures on the nightstand behind him. As he rubs his eyes, we hear his voice-over: "Am I happier now?" Who the hell is he talking to, anyway? Just who, exactly, is interviewing all the characters on this show? Whoever it is, Rick tells them to "ask [him] again in another three years." The camera pans back so we can see his whole bed, where his daughter is asleep next to him. He places a hand on her head to wake her just as his son, Eli, walks into the room wearing a wifebeater and scratching his buzzed head. He asks Rick to take him to "mom's" so he can pick up the notes he forgot there.

Rick's first on-camera confessional: "I always had a map of my life, you know? Where I was supposed to be headed, and now...now...it's like I've walked off it entirely."

We see Rick's classic SUV pull up to the curb in front of Karen's house. She's waiting at the door with Eli's notes and hugs each of the kids while Rick looks on. Before she disappears in the house, Karen reminds Rick that they have an appointment at four o'clock the next day. She doesn't smile, and neither does he.

Rick's confessing again: "By the time you get divorced, there's almost some relief in accepting that you failed. You're worthless, you've destroyed your kids' lives, and yet, there they are, and they need you. You have to move on."

Rick pulls up to the high school to drop off Eli. Beside his truck, Lily and her kids are in a shiny black Explorer. Rick catches a glimpse of Lily, and it quickly turns into a full-on stare. Somehow, he's never seen her there before, even though she drops off her kid five days a week. Inside the Explorer, Lily's zoning out on Grace's pubescent bitch-and-moan session which means, thankfully, we don't really hear any of it either. Although we get another black-and-white session with Lily instead, so I'm not exactly sure we're ahead. "So here I am," she says. "Only I don't know where 'here' is. I was supposed to be the happy homemaker. I was supposed to be angry that I was the happy homemaker. I saw the whole picture. I wasn't doing enough with my life, and I was happy not doing enough with my life because I was safe. And look at me." Which is pretty hard not to do, considering her perfectly made-up, beaming visage is filling my television screen. She hardly looks like a wreck to me. But I do sympathize with what's she's saying, as I now have several friends who are struggling with the whole "defining themselves as a mother" dilemma. It really bugs me that women are made to feel like they have to apologize for their choices and that there's this stigma attached to being a stay-at-home mom. But I digress. Lily surveys the high school driveway, where she's surrounded by lots of shiny happy people living their shiny happy lives. Watching them, Lily says she "wants to go back there." While scanning the hordes of smiling faces, Lily catches Rick staring at her. Their eyes lock for a moment or two before Lily looks away. Rick tugs his eyes off her, and Lily smiles to herself because she's getting checked out. She takes a second look at Rick as he begins to drive away.

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Once and Again

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