“Where I found a living creature, there I found a will to power; and even in the will of the servant I found the will to be master. And where sacrifice and service and loving glances are, there too is will to be master. There the weaker steals by secret paths into the castle”.
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Rick and I were married almost five years when he told me he wanted a divorce. My husband had always lived his life to please his family, and never got the chance to sow any wild oats. My oats were mostly sown before I married. I asked for what was necessary. Then, I let him leave.
My friend George invited me to parties, the way people do with their newly divorced friends. I wasn’t in much of a party mood and declined several invitations. I went to work everyday and home to an empty apartment every night; George thought I was spending too much alone, and invited me out to a local bar. No party, no pressure, just me and you, he said—and a friend he’d often spoken of, named Ray.
We met at the bar that evening, George was George like he always was, and Ray was quiet, like he had better things to do. The conversation drifted, politics, favorite books, Ray and I both said “A Clockwork Orange” was our favorite film; we volleyed bits of dialogue back and forth, George sat back and watched and nursed a beer.
I finally accepted one of George’s party invitations, but I didn’t have much in common with his other friends. Across the room, Ray sat on a loveseat as if it were a throne; he caught my eye and patted the empty space beside him with an air that said, “Come hither”. I completed the performance and eagerly obeyed. George’s other friends exchanged looks and whispered and thought it was all just terrible. And that was half the fun of it, for me and Ray.
I wore high heels and tight black little dresses, and I read books for pleasure that some of Ray’s friends struggled with in graduate school. We often discussed Nietzsche, particularly Zarathustra, and I watched Ray proudly watching me as I tossed my blond hair back and explained, in some detail, why the Hollingdale translation was, in my opinion, superior to Kaufmann's,
I admired his self-assurance and lightning quick intelligence, and there was an air of danger about Ray; even his name conjured up images of a black fin jutting out of foam and glass-gray water. To say he didn’t coddle people’s insecurities would be an understatement. Ray tested people and I was no exception, he regularly and brazenly flirted with other women in front of me.
But I never complained and I never cried. I stayed, and played the game, even when it was cruel. I drew warm water and bathed him head to toe, and when he couldn't sleep at night, I stroked his hair and sang him lullabies. In time, Ray fell in love with me, as I hoped, or as I knew, perhaps, he would.
Nothing lasts that’s born of such intensity, and I have no idea where Ray might be today. Thankfully I emerged a humbler, wiser woman. Some relationships are on-again-off-again affairs, but some are an all-or-nothing god's roll of the dice; the latter end as cautionary tales.
Some people say I was newly divorced, that I simply didn't want to be alone. Or they say that I was young and love is always foolish, or some say I was just confused; some people say I needed love so badly I debased myself.
But any woman who has done as I have done knows better.
Sometimes we give ourselves to men as slaves in order to enslave them. Sometimes we feed the beast of prey until it growls at strangers, then offers us its paw.
Sometimes the will to power steals into the heart by secret paths.
The will to master comes disguised, sometimes, as sacrifice, and service.