Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why I love Elizabeth Wurtzel (excerpt from Bitch)

"And there have been long, struggling years, and my sadness at never getting it right with somebody has been huge. But I also believe in the human project I have embarked on by choosing to remain single (and it is a choice). In the abstract, when I discuss my life alone, my misadventures, my travels, whatever, people always say, "That's so interesting." Or "It's great that you do that." They marvel at the way I prefer to vacation alone, they think it's great that I'd rather provide for myself, buy luxurious and frivolous items for myself, that I love going to double features in the afternoon all alone, that there is pretty much nothing I don't like doing by msyelf. But at the same time that they are impressed or intrigued, this other question looms: Why aren't you married? (To which my favorite reply is: Why aren't you thin?)

"But I thought it ought to have been obvious by now that there is a real value in developing before marrying. We support this notion in men, we believe they should take their time to grow up. But there is a little support for a woman going it alone through some part of her life. Parly it is just risky--women can be raped, and they can be victims of crime, and somehow they make less rugged hitchhikers. And they don't age as well, plastic surgery or no. But still, I think we owe ourselves the opportunity to be free, and in this day and age, it ought to be a given. I want to be married as much as the next person--even Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain saw fit to get hitched--but I want to do it when I am good and ready, which is all that any man has ever asked--it is all he has felt entitled to--and it is all I should ever want likewise.

"After all, there is a point to mistakes, to crying on the bathroom floor searching for the last traces of cocaine. Now that I am thirty, I know for certain that there were things I did in my twenties that I needed to do. Perhaps I might have done them as a teenager or a college student, but I believe that I needed to do them as an adult, a free person, without a tour bus or a counselor or a parent or a roommate or some other guardian there to chaperone me through: There just were things I needed to do absolutely alone.

"I needed to spend a week in Florence by myself, to check into the Excelsior Hotel and eat breakfast and dinner in bed with a view of the Arno, watching soccer on Italian telelvision and be amazingly bored. I needed to walk the streets of this most romantic and recherche of cities all alone, I needed to have Italian men who could tell I was American as if I were carrying the Star-Spangled Banner harass me when I got lost in cul-de-sacs and say the only English words they knew, "aw, baby, you so pretty," I needed to find a kitten in a pretty little street and then find out his owner was a painter in an atelier just behind him, and I needed to talk to that man though somehow he spoke no English and I spoke no Italian; I needed to visit the Tower of Pisa alone and buy a cheesy souvenir replica of it alone; I needed to spend a month in Miami Beach by myself, to walk into a tattoo parlor off the main drag, get some touch-ups on a hand-done India-ink engraving some guy gave me with a needle and thread one drunken college night, and then I neede to fuck the tattoo artist--who had been working on my naked back for four hours--on the floor of the shop afterward just to make sure that the Penthouse "Forum" isn't all lies; I needed to walk the streets of downtown New York for hours a day, afternoons roaming by, shopping in SoHo, stopping for an iced tea at the T Salon, having a manicure once a week at a Korean place in the Village, spending hours going through the sales racks at Barneys, buying lipstick I didn't need at the MAC store, basically throwing away a load of money on a lot of nothing; I suppose, in some strange way, that I needed to have the IRS seize my assets; I needed to cop heroin all by myself on Avenue C or Stanton Street, where it is always midnight, and I needed to nearly get arrested trying to score some dope in Madrid; I needed, I guess, to spend a night in a city jail in Florida; I needed to sleep with the junkie lead singer of a bad heavy metal band and then sleep with his nineteen-year-old brother the next week; I needed to write my first book with no one looking over my shoulder, and I needed to go on tour to promote it with no one special to come home to; I needed to have the best girlfriends you can possibly have on earth, to have relationships with them that have spanned through college, through moves to the Ukraine and London and San Francisco and back again; I needed to believe that I would one day go to law school, that I would be the rightful heir to Clarence Darrow if I ever got into a courtroom; I needed to live, for five years, in a huge and beautifully appointed loft--that I unfortunately had to share with the psychologist who owned it, occasionally with her boyfriend, eventually with her baby and nanny, occasionally with a high colonics administrator, and sporadically with her patients, with many of my own friends who saw it as a crash pad as they passed through town, and ultimately with my roommate Jason, and most unfortunately with an inept flautist who gave flute lessons on Thursday afternoons; I needed, at age twenty-four, to be fucking a ridiculously charming man of forty-eight, so I could know I'd done it with someone twice my age; I needed to drop acid at Walden Pond and do all the ridiculous things people do on that kind of trip, which is, as far as I can tell, the only reason anyone ever goes there, and seemingly the only reason Don Henley wants to preserve it; I needed every meal I've ever eaten alone in every restaurant, I needed every waiter who insisted I read Atlas Shrugged, every waitress who told me what it was liek to be twenty-five and a single mother going to college part-time; I needed every conversation on every plane or Amtrak ride, every born-again Christian, every just-engaged couple who said I was the first the know about their betrothal, every vitamin salesman who gave me free samples; I needed to live alone in several different apartments, a fleabag motel, a luxe hotel and at my mother's house in Fort Lauderdale for a year and talk to almost no one I know almost never because I was so tired from all the other things I needed to do.

"And still, I know I needed to do them.

"I know that I would jealously hear of a vacation of a friend took with her boyfriend to the Loire Valley or with her husband to Montserrat and I would think: If only. I would think: I want to share these adventures I have with someone. But I have had excursions with boyfriends now and then, and I have always found that I preferred the possibility and uncertainty and rank risk of being alone. I needed that, those things.

"I did not want the life I have had until now, but I know I needed it."


Post a Comment

<< Home