I carried with me into the West End Bar, the White Horse Tavern, a long list of things I would never do: I would never have my hair set in a beauty parlor. I would never move to a suburb and bake cakes or make casseroles. I would never go to a country club dance, although I did like the paper lanterns casting rainbow colors on the terrace. I would never invest in the stock market. I would never play canasta. I would never wear pearls. I would love like a nursling but I would never go near a man who had a portfolio or a set of golf clubs or a business or even a business suit. I would only love a wild thing. I didn't care if wild things tended to break hearts. I didn't care if they substituted scotch for breakfast cereal. I understood that wild things wrote suicide notes to the gods and were apt to show up three hours later than promised. I understood that art was long and life was short.
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We were not always 70, or rather our 70 is an accumulation of all the other ways we were. Our 5-year-old selves became our 10-year-old selves, and so on and on; and if we unpack our selves, the full album appears. Every moment is a part of the following moment, and we are all a continuum.
Most of us don't have mothers who blazed a trail for us--at least, not all the way. Coming of age before or during the inception of the women's movement, whether as working parents or homemakers, whether married or divorced, our mothers faced conundrums--what should they be? how should they act?--that became our uncertainties.
How deep is our desire to do better than our mothers--to bring daughters into adulthood strong and fierce yet loving and gentle, adventurous and competitive but still nurturing and friendly, sweet yet sharp. We know as working women that we can't quite have it all, but that hasn't stopped us from wanting it all for them.
I have always been fascinated by the human mind, conscious and unconscious - that is what writing and reading is about, too. The why of your life and the why of your choices and the what has happened that you know and the what that you don't know is really riveting, and psychoanalysts share my wonder at how it all unfolds.
Our mythology tells us so much about fathers and sons. ... What do we know about mothers and daughters? ... Our power is so oblique, so hidden, so ethereal a matter, that we rarely struggle with our daughters over actual kingdoms or corporate shares. On the other hand, our attractiveness dries as theirs blooms, our journey shortens just as theirs begins. We too must be afraid and awed and amazed that we cannot live forever and that our replacements are eager for their turn, indifferent to our wishes, ready to leave us behind.
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I think it is a good thing to have woman friends at every stage of life. We confide in each other, we support each other, we understand each other most of the time. Of course, sometimes we are competitive or angry or distant, too. But I do think it is important not to let the main friendships slip away in the sweep of the days.