Ode to a Wild Girl
I had a birthday last week. Not a special one, with a zero or a five at the end of it. Just another birthday of midlife served up with the usual crisis. At these times, I often find myself thinking about how I am and how I used to be. Is that the battle cry of women of a certain age? If so, some days I think that battle will end “not with a cry but a whimper.”
The Writes of Women blog reviewed two books of the adult female in transition recently. Both look good, but it’s the second one, Love & Trouble: Memories of Former Wild Girl by Claire Dederer that has me the most intrigued. With sections like “How to have sex with your husband of 15 years” and ” Recidivist Slutty Tendencies in the pre-AIDS-Era Adolescent Female,” I can tell this woman has lived through the same history as me. Although, the author admits to engaging in “near rabbit levels of sexual activity” in the early 80’s, and I admit nothing.
Contemplating our past selves in relation to who we are today can be an interesting exercise in mid-life, as well as a study of the changing roles of women over the years, since we cannot really evaluate ourselves outside of the context of the greater societal norms. It is hard for my daughter to understand how I could be groped on the subway as a teenager and remain silent and embarrassed, when she evaluates it in the era of post-Metoo. Or to realize the incredible weight felt by the first generation of women to be told they could “have it all,” career, family and a Jane Fonda workout body, only to find at the end of day we were too burned out to enjoy the all that we had.
Still, there is a romanticism to the memories of our younger incarnations. We were bolder then, fresher, believed in all things. We engaged in both brilliant and incredibly stupid behavior and laughed about them equally afterward with friends until we all peed a bit in our culottes.
I’m going to check this book out. It’s not noir or a thriller, but I think we all have a wild girl in our pasts that deserves celebrating. Either ourselves or one we secretly aspired to be. Maybe she even comes to visit you from time to time when the wine flows freely. Our young wild selves are still a part of us, no matter how long it has been since we did it like rabbits.
But like I said, I admit nothing.