The Eight Ages of a Woman

5 minute read

Blast from the past: digging into my archives and republishing the stuff I like. This was originally from 2004, and reposted again in 2005. And again now.

  1. It is the universal truth — before any woman, man, boy, or girl, is able to walk, first she must spend time crawling. And so it is here, as well as others, that first she learns the root and the nature of her passion and desire, isolates it, tames it well, calls it by its rightful name. But first, an awakening: coldness gripping her palm, fear and joy overcoming her heart, when she, after strings of boys (and strings of boys’ broken hearts), realizes with a rude shock, everything she had dreamt of for years, thought about in secret, put aside from shame, was here and now and right here, in the cubicle in the cinema in the fluorescent light, and there was nothing shameful about it.

  2. First the prelude before the climax. Six boys and counting, there is no lack of suitors, there never was and still isn’t, but it just wasn’t the same, it wasn’t quite it, there was something missing. To be sure, they were all excellent specimens of their kind, and yet — to hold a man around his waist and wish his well-toned body softer and more tender, to kiss him and to imagine what it’s like to kiss a woman, feeling increasingly like an imposter the more we make out and the further this spirals: this is not the life I could be content with, this is not the life I could pretend to want.

  3. I’m decidedly not gay, she says, before announcing this is why we cannot see each other anymore. Well — I’m not either! I chime in, badly wanting to keep her. Or am I? I couldn’t possibly, I thought, having had more men in my short years than some women ever will in their lifetimes. I, too, was prey to the misconception that sexual behaviour and orientation were necessarily one and the same, ignorant of the nuances of human interaction. All I knew then was that I wanted this woman more than anything else I had ever known, and that “gay” was the name other people had for us.

  4. Going from whispered secrets in darkened stairwells to holding hands with women in the light of day, felt like one very long draw of breath, and even further leap of faith. It was to stare the unnamed persecutor in the eye and to say, I am not ashamed, it is to look gleefully at these men who want us both, and to say, you’re not invited, it was to leave a taxi stand in anger and resolve one night when the white men in front of us want to know where we’re headed (her place) and had the gall to ask if they could come along, it was to claim that very simple act people who don’t know take for granted, that is to hold the hands of a woman is not at all an easy task, no matter if she is the one you love, simply because you look like a woman.

  5. Settling into the motions of the “R” (Relationship), another set of questions and conflicts arises. Please do not squeeze the toothpaste topdown, can you please lift up the toilet seat? Why? Whom among us pees standing up? Birthdays and anniversaries, breakups of friends and weddings of family; what CDs to leave by the hifi, which CDs to leave in the car. I’m not very much wiser off from when I started, but at least I know now to leave the toilet seat up even if nobody pees standing up, or, failing which, to turn over and go to sleep and to make breakfast in the morning.

  6. And when it ends, girls cannot, unlike boys and girls, simply cease to be, mostly since close friends and lovers so often overlap in our world. Who takes what, which places you can never visit again, which CDs of yours and household appliances to leave behind in her possession, which to demand back. Yet why do they always remain the first people to run to when another affair fails, and why do they still care as much, all without illusion or pretense? If there was a word for “between friend and lover but never again but more than a friend nonetheless”, I would invent it here. I would be much poorer off without knowing this one group of people known as the gay girl ex. They’re the sweetest people in the world, but only when they’re not busy being malicious to each other, or dating each other.

  7. Many nights I have stood here by this window in my kitchen, phone in hand, sobbing. Gazing into the distance, not quite sure what the person on the other line is saying anymore, but inserting appropriate “ums” and “yes, buts” at the right points. Last week, I found myself at the same spot, doing the same thing. But this time I was pretty sure, unlike other times, I would hate myself for doing what I tried to if you hadn’t stopped me, and this time I don’t know very much about the future, mine or yours, or ours, and don’t pretend to. But I do know I can’t bear the thought of not having you in my life, as difficult as it is, with or without.

  8. (this is a story i do not have the means to write because i have not lived it yet, have no clue what it will be, don’t even dare to start on it. this is the part where i say it may be a blank canvas, yes, but at least i know from all these vignettes i’ve had the luck to witness and be part of, these snippets i’ve glimpsed into, it isn’t something to fear. drawing all these vignettes together, weaving them whole, not phenomenally different from what everyone else is doing: just putting the pieces of a puzzle together, finding the pieces which fit, except that in my world — it takes much more effort to hold the hands of the one you love, much more masochism to just keep swimmin’, much more courage to even begin to try to love.)