Like many thrilling things women do—fucking or hitchhiking, being demoniacally ambitious or telling an asshole to stick a chainsaw in his eye—society tells us that growing up leads to ruin. Yes, you get older, but you can also grow tougher, kinder, braver. You can claw out the life you wanted. But as you age, the world will tell you you’re less worthy, even if you know that’s a lie. If there’s one thing society won’t stand for, it’s for a woman to be content.
You will never be the polished, one-dimensional person this world desires.
Some people make us feel more human and some people make us feel less human and that is a fact as much as gravity is a fact and maybe there are ways to prove it, but the proof of it matters less that the existence of it—how a stranger can show up and look at you and make you make more sense to yourself and the world, even if that sense is extremely fragile and only comes around occasionally and is prone to wander or fade—what matters is that sometimes sense is made between two people and I don’t know if it’s random or there is any kind of order to it, what combinations of people work the best and why and how do we find these people and how do we keep these people around, and I don’t know if it’s chaos or not chaos but it feels like chaos to me so I suppose it is.
I stopped looking for the light. Decided to become it instead.
In a prescient moment at my kitchen table, right after I hung up the phone, I saw that I would love him, and that loving him would mean saying yes to the self I would become by loving him, and no to the other selves I would never become by not loving him.
That it feels different here on this shore than you thought it would does not negate the enormity of the distance you traversed and the strength it took you to do it.
I remember the clams, the wine. I remember the book I stared down into, sure that everyone was looking over at me in pity. But most of what I remember were the black walnuts on the cheese plate. They were extraordinary, as if I had never truly eaten a walnut before. Rich and bitter. I had that impulse to share the information, that “try these,” that sharing of the experience. But there was no one else there. I had to learn, in that moment, to enjoy the walnuts only for myself. I felt that Nine of Cups feeling, of satisfaction and wholeness. It turned my loneliness into solitude.