Sunday, February 1, 2009
More Like a Girl Every Day
These days I feel more and more like the girl I once was. It's really quite odd, how your old self comes back to you like this. As the years pass, I can shoulder my responsibilities with something pretending to competence, I am a more seasoned mother, I can manage a household and make sure everyone's okay and fed and clothed, I'm not afraid of getting older, and in fact it's good to be able to rely on my own grown-older self. But still, the more this happens, the more 16-year-old Leah makes her presence known.
I remember a night in August, many years ago: I sat on our Brooklyn balcony with my friend Sarah. We talked and talked, sipping our one-beer-each, of all the things that young girls talk about confidingly, in the secrecy of a hot dark night. At last, after a pause, I could feel her looking at me, and she said, "in the end, all I really want is a family, a house and a husband and children to take care of." It seemed so subversive at the time, the least choice among so many, but also quite romantic. I said back to her, daringly I thought, "me too."
Some days I think I've traded places with the girl on the balcony, and I'm back there in that long-ago city night, knowing my willing fate, not in it yet but looking forward to it as one looks forward to going home after a long, turbulent journey...and she, the lovely vivid girl (anxious and excitable and emotional and adventurous, boy-crazy, intense, and a daydreamer) is here, unsuitable but earnest guardian of my adult life.
I think I'm satisfied now that I couldn't have one without the other; wouldn't be happy without my girl to remind me of sweetness and excitement and hope...
"Big girl as she was, Laura spread her arms wide to the wind and ran against it. She flung herself on the flowery grass and rolled like a colt. She lay in the soft, sweet grasses and looked at the great blueness above her and the high, pearly clouds sailing in it. She was so happy that tears came into her eyes."*
*"Little Town on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder