Saturday, January 18, 2014

Girls

Snow in winter in Vermont. At the coffee shop, a gaggle of girls. Oh, might they be twenty-two? How lovely. "In Nepal," the blond one says, her hair in spirals, a pink flannel shirt. And, "I want to be busier, to learn how to grow tea." I covet this comment. I adore you for your lack of business, for your joy. To grow tea, yes, we should all learn this! The discussion turns to living at home and how she relies on her mother for dinner and feeling lazy.

Do I remember this time? Yes, of course. But what did I want then? To travel, yes. To be alone and not to be alone. To speak of my love for so-and-so with my girlfriends as though the affair with so-and-so really existed for the purpose of gossiping with my girlfriends about it. To walk in the rain with Laura; she, wearing a pink coat, carrying her umbrella, discussing boys. Go to tea with Hillary after sitting meditation, discuss books--our bodies smooth and taken for granted and instruments and also terrifying. To smoke a dozen cigarettes with Georgia while discussing the minutest details of our weekly horoscope.

The girls talk of Spanish minors, practicums, of animal psychology... advanced nutrition and bio-chem. They speak of the future easily as though it will all come to them. They are not depressed; they are certain. The blond wears Buddhist beads and took a semester off of school, despite her parents' displeasure. "Doesn't it feel wonderful to donate all that old stuff? Just get rid of it, you don't need any of it." And, "I'm going to start treating my bedroom as my apartment."

I love these women, but I was never one. I was, I will admit, a disgruntled, depressed person, a neurotic, sarcastic, insane person. It's fine. I'm better now. But how lovely the world is with these girls in it and how I hope to have a daughter someday, who is nothing like me. Who is whatever way she wants to be. God knows her father would love her no matter what and would never say the word "should" to her. I am the one with a mouthful of "shoulds" though long ago, Georgia forbid the word and I have since tried to rid myself of it. And long, long ago, Jenny and I met in a Paris suburb, drank wine, drank giant cups of hot chocolate and fresh French bread and dreamed the dream of Paris, of Spain, of Italy and the south of France... these places we go when we are young and again when we are old. Places where silence dries in our mouthes and blooms in our minds into something firmly our own. We cried as we left each other in Switzerland, across the tracks, looking through the windows of our separate trains. It is good to remember.



Two Girls by Francesca Woodman