“Up or down, it seemed to us that we were always going toward something terrible that had existed before us yet had always been waiting for us, just for us. When you haven’t been in the world long, it’s hard to comprehend what disasters are at the origin of a sense of disaster: maybe you don’t even feel the need to. Adults, waiting for tomorrow, move in a present behind which is yesterday or the day before yesterday or at most last week: they don’t want to think about the rest. Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are this, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this the night.”
Ehhh. This book is touted as a good example of the messiness yet meaningfulness of female friendships but man, if this dynamic between these two is a standard blueprint for fem friendship, that does not say great things about us. I mean, I read about the silence and the dares peppered with occasional bizzare kindnesses and I think oh yeah, sure, I knew that girl. She would beg me to come over and then would attack me and beg me not to leave until finally one day I walked back home bleeding from a slash in my cheek and my mother stood horrified in the kitchen wondering what had happened. To my immense relief I never had to hang out with the girl again, and was no longer chastised for hoping she got stung by bees. But man, I’ve had friendships like that, and they suck. Is there going to be an unguarded moment of genuine empathy in here somewhere?
I know you’re not supposed to call out your fellow women as people you don’t want to be friends with — it marks you as not that great a lady, for reasons I accept — but man, when these are the kind of fem friendships I look back on, it shouldn’t be a wonder that I’m suuuuper hesitant to get all chummy with my fellows.
Also — having just finished in audiobook form far more Jane Austen than is good for anyone, amongst whose words lives the quivering and constantly quaking-from-fear Fanny of Mansfield Park — this dynamic, the kid who’s scared of everything, dragged along by the kid who is not, just sucks. Give me a bildungsroman not written by the scared kid. And not a bully either — just the stalwart kid who goddamn survived. Because when the only stories you’re circulating are either about bullies or the scared kids that alternately cling to them or flee their shadows, how many options are you really offering? Your first decade and a half of culturally conscious life should not be able to be determined by picking the petals of a daisy. Those are terrible odds. Show people they can be something else.