Ideas without a home.
At least until college. Before I sat in a cold room on campus and found this woman before me I had only heard of. So nonlinear. Her words like a stream of consciousness, perhaps a mild form of possession. Pacing across the room, taking her glass off to point with them towards air, as if she truly saw without them, then a dash to the board to scribble a word, a fragment…
I never knew what to write down. Originally, I tried to write it all. But by the second course with her, I stopped making notes on the regular. Often I wrote down only the epiphanies she stumbled upon in her discourse, or my own that had been jostled awake by her words. Never before her, never before in my life, had I heard the word Feminism…how strange to make it 19 years without so many thoughts, so many emotions, finding a home, becoming defined.
Sophomore year in high school, I had written a short story. A mother must survive, work outside the home in a weapons factory during World War II while her husband fights. Upon his return, she’s forced to quit her job at the factory, no need for such things anymore, he is home. Through the eyes of her daughter it is seen. Her mother won’t cook, smokes cigarettes in the kitchen, won’t even wear her stockings, and she cries so much, she has grown more silent. And father is angry, fights with her, but she remains stoic, unyielding, she won’t work for him anymore. I don’t recall the ending, but it wasn’t happy, I don’t write tidy conclusions for fuzzy hearted people.
My teacher was perplexed by the story. She didn’t get it. “So, what?” she said to me. The mother had to quit her job, that wouldn’t cause her behavior. But I stood by my story, my characters, yes, it would. I couldn’t explain it to her. I didn’t understand it fully myself. I just knew within me, in my mind, my writings, this woman would have found something, something in her, and having it taken away, she would be unassuaged, she would refuse to return to life as it once was. But I didn’t have the words. My thoughts did not yet know their origin.
I do not know how I thought this way, surely something had to have influenced me, but I can never pinpoint it in my life. To say it was innate would make me suspicious, make me wonder about my character. And my memories are fragmented, I forget so much of myself. What woman am I to be?
This week I thought about marriage. Realized, confirmed to myself, I would never take another’s last name. Most people I know think this odd. Co-workers I see almost daily find it tacky. Why marry and not take a new last name? It’s like saying you don’t want him. I say, then how much does he want me if he wouldn’t think to take mine, or better yet, know I need not a name, but only him. I think why do I need his last name when I already have my own?
And now I’m smiling. I love that thought. I’ll say it again, “Why do I need his last name when I already have my own?” It is.