Lately I’ve been craving female companionship. As my living situation at the moment is precarious, I’ve substituted books, my paper heroines for flesh and bone people. Still reading Kate Zambreno, I stop: “I find myself afraid, feeling too fucked up to have real friends in my embodied existence.”
That pierces. I’m afraid of making friends. Not light, easy friends, acquaintances, dinner party guests, facebook friends, colleagues, but close friendships, blood sisters. My best friend (that term both huge and pale) lives oceans away, and though ever-thankful for skype, speaking through boxes is not the same. I miss her. I miss laughing with her.
In this respect, she is my opposite. She makes friends easily, within minutes she’s charmed her elbows onto their tables and guiding conversations, while I’m neurotically speaking in waves, sometimes awash in irrelevance, I’ll slip away, often to smoke, except I no longer smoke.
As a kid at Catholic school I was bullied for no reason, though I’m sure there was a reason, I was just not privy to it. I know they hated how dark my arm hair was, and they didn’t like my sexual enthusiasm. How openly boy crazy I was. We were all friends, me and these girls. It was a group of about ten of us, always rotating who was in and who was out pending who couldn’t make the latest sleepover, but ostracism, while still devastating, was only temporary. Then, one day, it was my turn, again, except it never stopped. My clique hated me, then the rest of my grade. Later that year we moved. I was thrown a surprise going away party. They gave me a Precious Moments statue they collectively paid for. It was a cheerleader whose caption read: Cheers to the leader. To this day I have never been more humiliated.
I know this is why I struggle making and maintaining close female friendships. But that’s such a generic and textbook explanation. I’m pathologizing myself. Like I said, I also was completely boy crazy, just nuts for sexual intimacy, so I fluttered in and out of relationships with ease. My high school girlfriends were all the same way. We were close, but we held each other at a distance. In a lot of ways I felt closer to whoever I was dating. I can count on one hand how many times those friends had seen me cry, whereas my lovers had seen me collapse into a puddle on sometimes a daily–or christ–hourly basis. My friends never totally knew what a fucked-up mess of a hysteric I was. How dark and afraid and wild-eyed.
I maintained this Plath-like existence. So vanilla on the outside, wholesome and clean. I shopped at the Gap, wore concealer, exercised. But I was so sad and messy and angry, feverishly scribbling and scratching in my diaries, chain-smoking cigarettes, not giving a fuck while giving all the fucks. I wanted to be Ophelia, I wanted to carry the sexy crazy, but I couldn’t stand the dishes piling up.
Again Zambreno, “We live in a culture that punishes and tries to discipline the messy woman and her body and a literary culture that punishes and disciplines the overtly autobiographical (for being too feminine, too girly, too emotional).”
I do like where literature is going. I like the shift in the feminine identity zeitgeist. I like that there is now a space for messy girls. (There are even goddesses: All hail Dodie Bellamy!) Though there’s still such a long way to go for girls to be seen as serious, for them to feel their stories matter and are not frivolous.
The blogs that I follow, the tumblrs that I follow, I would’ve loved to have immersed myself in this online fucked-up girl culture in high school. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alienated in my other self, I could’ve found other sad girl ponies with which to frolic.
But, what am I saying. I’m still looking for those sad girl ponies. Meeting friends just never came as easy to me as ensnaring a lover. My best friend says it’s the same, just a different kind of seduction. I still cannot see it.
So much of this also comes from the isolation of parenting a toddler.
I didn’t intend for this post to get so maudlin. I’ve been sifting through my belongings and parting with everything nonessential. The entire process is taxing. I’m both nostalgic and cold, cutting memories off at the knees. I can’t believe there was ever a life before my child. That I existed once as a free agent, attaching and detaching myself to whomever I felt like, with feckless abandon. Yes, I’m nostalgic for that.
But I wouldn’t go back.