I was brought up by Soviet Jews, a decidedly unsexist lot; in the Olde Country women put on overalls and worked the same jobs as men. If you had high intelligence, you could be a doctor or an engineer and be part of the intelligentsia. Less brain power, you could always be a welder, or drive a tractor. There was little distinction between “male” jobs and “female” jobs. Too bad there are no jobs in America where you can sit around and discuss art, literature and film while drinking strong coffee, I would be CEO.
The startling fact is I grew up to be a 50’s housewife minus the dress coat, with few marketable skills outside of sex work (believe me, I thought about it). I did not finish college, and all I know how to do is write, perform and sell. I am working on a career direction that encompasses these three things, but what shocks me daily is how little independence I had in my marriage and how long it is taking to develop any. It turns out getting a job is really fucking hard, even when you are actually literate and can string some words into a cogent sentence. If I don’t change the script, the next stop after the house in Malibu I still share with my ex could be a cardboard box.
Also unfortunate is that the job I do now, that of raising children, which I’m getting quite good at (it’s been a decade so I’ve gained a few skills) is an unpaid internship. The hours are lousy, those I work with can be trying but I can’t report them to HR, and it doesn’t come with benefits, except maybe my sons won’t toss me into a home when I’m old-or better yet, pay for a nice one-close to the beach, full of randy old pervs who have access to Viagra.
I thought I was in such a great marriage for at least a decade, and aspects of it were wonderful. Now that I am two years out of that marriage, I long for the good times, not because I wish I were still married to my ex-husband, but because I wish I could be the young, naive brat who let him rescue me daily. Why did I have to grow and change, damn it? Why couldn’t I just shut up and continue to be the boss’s wife? Why did my soul have to call so shrilly that it overrode those happy pills I used to take? Fuck you soul, go home, you’re drunk.
What happened to my fairy tale? Did it even exist? I know I still have a princess dress worthy of a Disney movie, but it’s vacuum packed and tucked away in an attic somewhere. As of last week, I no longer have the fantastical ring. There are still photo albums and greeting cards, those quaint, predigital reminders of yore, but how long before they degrade and decompose? There is no evidence of my adventure except two flesh and blood human beings who will never understand why the story had to end so anticlimactically. If only I could explain that there was a wicked witch that took it all away, but the only witch was me, and the good news is I will never be her again, not even on Day 23 of my cycle. Even now that I am more of a Good Witch, I still regret that there is no wand I can wave to ensure a happy ending…
I always thought I was a feminist, but how can you be a feminist if you never figured out how to support yourself except for brief periods? I am the most independent dependent person you’ll ever meet-put me in a social situation, especially with strangers, and watch me flourish. Just don’t ask me to figure out how to earn some money to pay the electric bill. I will likely spend it on Goji snacks and other antioxidant super foods, or the next woo-woo healer that is going to make it all better. I am just starting to understand that the magical cure is within, and free, and it’s a good thing too, because I use it a thousand times a day now that there is absolutely nothing else I can use to numb the pain that was once so excruciating, and has become so much less so.
Recently there was an introduction that needed to be made:
“Reality? Meet Susanna. Susanna, meet Reality. I’m surprised you haven’t met before, but I guess better late than not at all. Ah yes… I see Fantasy leaving the room right now. Hey Fantasy- nothing personal- you had a good run, just don’t let the door hit ya on the way out…”