Can a Berkeley feminist social activist find happiness with a gung-ho Oakland police officer?
Raday met Barrett on a blind date, an event she initially viewed as a sociological experiment. She swiftly discovered that he was more complex than the stereotypical gun-toting cop. Several years later, after breakups and couples therapy, they married. Up to this point her account of her reservations about their basic cultural differences have a light touch. Besides a clear understanding of who she is and what she wants, Raday has a solid sense of humor, an ear for dialogue and an eye for telling detail. After 9/11, his usual reminders to her—“Remember, stay in Condition Yellow” (a state of awareness of danger and readiness to deal with it)—no longer seemed quite so paranoid. A major shift in their relationship came when Barrett, a West Point graduate and an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, discovered that his sense of honor and duty would not permit him to go ahead with his planned retirement, to Raday’s dismay. His commitment to the Army and hers to family—by now they had a son—were in direct conflict. As disagreement over the war in Iraq sharpened, Raday writes, “I felt a chasm developing in our country, with the deepest crack running right through my heart and my marriage.” Uprooted from California when her husband decided to attend the Army War College in Pennsylvania, she found herself a misfit among the other Army spouses, and became increasingly isolated when he was deployed to Iraq. As the misery index goes up, the laughter fades. Her earlier attempts to get inside her husband’s mind, to understand a way of thinking so different from her own and to convince him that his views were wrong are replaced by a somber acceptance of the fact that their worlds are in separate orbits. At the memoir’s end, the future of their marriage remains uncertain.
Honestly and perceptively explores the strains of a peacenik/warrior relationship.