You forget that I knew you as a girl; I didn’t forget. So today I am sad to see your spark dampened, the girl I knew who threw her head back and laughed and was beautiful and cruel like a dark sun of her own. The girl I rode with who was free and unfettered and knew – at least while with me she did – that she didn’t have to apologize for her nature nor improve upon it. She was (is) good enough for me to run out into the night and share meals with our fingers in the day and say crass things over the phone and pen poor poetry together and take time to talk talk talk about our relationships and occasionally throw the rest of the world out the window for just us and a cigarette.
Now age, moral constriction, gossip, husbands, children, in-laws, jobs pile up and squeeze you into some other shape and you take them all on your shoulders and work for them. You are still strong; you are still wild. But you don’t run any more. When did the assumed esteem of these people* start to matter so much to you? Do you know those who love you prize you not for the work you do but for the reasons I loved you as a girl – and those that don’t love you can go to hell for all I care?
It’s a strange thing that, at least in our peer group, it borders on the offensive if I comment in any way that’s not flattering or shallow or easy-come-easy-go. So, say, I can’t really mention if your kids are acting up too much lately and you seem tired or you seem to have gained weight on the ass and around the eyes, or wonder aloud how it is that in the years stacking up you haven’t succeeded in getting the job or the non-job that you always said you wanted. I better not say Hey, I know what it’s like to not like one’s husband because of course our story must coda with the requisite: Oh, our marriage has it’s ups and downs but [ insert euphamism for ‘everything’s perfect, I’m fine’! ] rather than, Holy shit I am so sick of this man right now! Pass the reefer.** If I said any of these things aloud you might very well think I’m picking on you or that we’re having a dangerous (and real) conversation. I think we’d move past it and you’d realize that I’m not, that I love you, that I want to see you cared for, that you’re safe with me. But it makes me wonder why women can’t speak more frankly to one another; or at least, women of our age.
I’m told that as we grow older, that when our children start taking themselves to soccer practice or when they move to college or out of the house or when menopause hits, that we will achieve some kind of wildness and freedom, some candid repertoire and no longer need to be Good Girls (or Wives, or Mothers) but just be ourselves. Somehow the competition for money, a sexy body, a do-right man, well-behaved children will fall away and we’ll laugh it off while we seek what we want for ourselves and serve the world as we should.
But I’d like to get started on this today. How do you feel about it?
* With their building blocks and their tiny plastic phones /
Counting on their fingers, with crumbs down their fronts
** I don’t smoke reefer with my friends, just so you know. Figure of speech.