Sunday, June 11, 2006

Answer to Dweezila

I asked Dweezila where the hell she came from, to write such beautiful harrowing stuff, and she answered with a wonderful letter which explained a lot. But -- I don't know why I didn't see this coming -- she asked me the same question back. I keep writing bits of answers, but nothing holds together. I told her this and she said just do it in bits, then. Why should it hold together? So here's one bit.

Once upon a time, circa 1950, a Midwestern girl went away to college and had sex with a fellow-student, a science nerd there. She had sex with him because science nerds had a faint glamour about them, in the age of Sputnik; and also because he didn't care what anyone thought about him and she thought she would like that. As it turned out she didn't like it as much as she thought she would, but she liked the sex more than she thought she would, which sort of balanced things out and possibly meant they were in love. So, on the quiet, because this was the fifties and not the sixties, they got married.

Then when she went home her parents were distressed at the secret wedding and they convinced her to get married again, to pretend she was getting married for the first time -- a big wedding at the big white congregational church in her home town. Her twice-now husband knew nobody there. There are photos of this wedding. He stands stooped there, forlorn, defeated. All around is a big wedding, with places in it for everyone but him.

They went to California, but they didn't like the cities so they drove north, and eventually they came to Oregon, which they liked. There was the ocean one hundred miles this way and the mountains one hundred miles the other way, and in between an idyllic green valley. In a school administration office in that valley, the man overheard someone say, "I can't for the life of me find a science teacher."

"I teach science," he said.

So he taught highschool science in Pleasant Hill, Oregon. They had three children, neatly spaced at two-and-a-half year intervals. I was the last.

The little house, the sameness, wore on the girl. She wasn't a girl anymore. And all of her specialness seemed to have drained away. She knew now that she didn't actually love this man. But fourteen years went by. She ate a lot of chocolate and became fat. Her life was so small she couldn't stand it. And now it was the sixties, so she started graduate school in psychology, bought a little used car of her own, and filed for divorce.

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