Monday, April 3, 2017

Old Skins to Shed

The narrator of Rachel Cusk's Outline might or might not be a singular person. By the time I began to suspect that the characters were folding into one another, I was nearly finished. It will be a good one to reread, but I'm uninspired to do so right now.

I didn't have enough empathy for the characters, or interest in their movements. This may have been because the whole book was a brain tease and I didn't catch on until too late.

However, this reflection by Angeliki, a mother of one son, knocked me over.
'...for me, of course, it would be disastrous to have more children: I would be completely submerged, as so many women are. I ask myself why it is my mother wishes me submerged in my turn, when I have important work to do, when it would not be in my best interests and would be, as I say, tantamount to disaster, and the answer is that her desire is not about me but about herself.
'The parts of life that are suffocating,' Angeliki said, 'are so often the parts that are the projection of our own parents' desires. One's existence as a wife and mother, for example, is something often walked into without question, as though we are propelled by something outside ourselves; while a woman's creativity, the thing she doubts and is always sacrificing for the sake of other things...has been her own idea, her own inner compulsion.'
I don't want to be submerged.

In high school, the Immaculate Conception scared the shit out of me. There wasn't an Internet and sex education was virtually nonexistent. My overactive brain couldn't handle that combo. I convinced myself that when I got pregnant due to some freak accident, I would be strong enough to kill myself. I carried this conviction into my twenties and I'm not even sure when precisely I let it go. Once you've gone down that road, I'm not sure there's any coming back.

So many of my friends are having their second babies. My best friend is pregnant with her first. Two others are attending a book/therapy group called Maybe Baby for queer couples thinking about kids.

On Saturday, Sonia and I went over to a couple's house and met their daughters, who are two years old and five months old. The woman and I used to be roommates in Philadelphia; we'd run into each other at Molly's funeral and didn't want to leave it there. I'd always liked her.

Sonia spent most of her time with the baby, but that two-year-old was my favorite. I am 35; Sonia is 32. No decisions have been made. I don't doubt for a second that I'd love raising a kid, but the pathway there is still unclear.

Plus, I have some old skins to shed: that scared teenager I used to be and others' desires I've been carrying around. Spring's a good time for that.

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