I went shopping this morning, determined to find a dress or skirt outfit. And I did. A very intelligent and nice clerk helped me, made me feel good. "Do you think that's too young for me?," I asked her of a slinky top. She shot me a look that said, what are you kidding? I guess fifty (going on 51) can be all in your head sometimes. Still, I'm motivated to keep exercising and in fact am just back from my second brisk walk of the day. The outfit I came away with isn't the most "bohemian" (the word the clerk and I settled on as the look that I'm striving for - to which she sang a few words - to which I responded "Rhapsody" - and we both laughed. Smart girl. Hope she's a Bard student or the like. I was curious and wanted to ask, - so what do you do when you're not in retail - but there really wasn't any way to without it sounding like a very weird pickup line) but it's very flattering and I can wear it all sorts of places, from the supermarket (gawd, I hope not) to a play in Lenox or Hudson. Now that I have it I'd like to wear it, not just admire it hanging in my window blinds! It feels like a milestone to be in a skirt again, with my hair longer. A transformation. I look better now I think, than I did 10 years ago.
I'm having a hard time today, though, emotionally. Woke up feeling upset, a feeling of life having passed me by, that I missed the boat somehow. I didn't have children. I will never have grandchildren. That's harsh. You will. Of course you will. I feel that a series of missteps got me to this spot. Women not much older than me at the department store line were competitively exchanging daggered cuteseyisms about their grandchildren. "Mine calls me not Great Grandma, but Grandma Great" - all very nauseating, frankly. I never wanted that, of course. How did it happen that I didn't have children? I am sorry that I didn't. I wasn't strong enough in myself. D's in his own world. There was no support system, in terms of family on either side. There was the practical problem of the two-earner couple in a one-bedroom in Brooklyn. I could never figure out how to solve for x. I need to work full-time to make ends meet, and that's what I'm doing just to help keep us in a one-bedroom in Brooklyn, so how do we have a baby, when (a) I wouldn't want to relegate the child to outside daycare, (b) there's no room in a glorified studio in Brooklyn." And so two decades went by. I missed the boat.
I am envious of you, of your family, of your sons. (Mood I was in I didn't need Dominique Browning's syrupy account this morning.) You knew how to do it, somehow. Getting a stronghold in academia was obviously a brilliant idea. I think it might have been a good one for me, if anyone had had the sense to steer me in that direction. If anything I was actively dissuaded from it. My mother used to sneeringly refer to her half-sister's husband who went from being a professor at a "name" Southern university to some "backwater" school, as my mother thought of it. "Publish or perish," she scoffed, "and he perished." Scary stuff, hearing that when I was young. Now I think, so it was a backwater. So what? He did publish (albeit in an unexpected way, to my mind) and I feel certain that he has had a great life.
I don't know, I just feel so angry at the moment - not at you - but at the miseducation and lack of support from any side (particularly my ruthlessly survivalist "family") all through my life, really. Maybe for whatever complex of reasons Emily Dickinson didn't choose to marry, and ergo to have children, but I don't feel that's what happened to me. I feel that I slipped into this happenstance, fell into quicksand and sank. Having a family is what I wanted most.
It's 2010 and it might as well be 1610 or 1710 or 1810 or 1910 or any other time. Unless a woman is a trailblazing unneedy loner - yeah, not me - steps such as who one chooses to marry count. What those "grandma greats" in that stupid cashiers line always understood.
If you stop clicking on my site I won't even blame you. I'm having a hard time. It is just not easy being 50 and three-quarters.