“Girls” and Done Hams

I’ve been watching “Girls” for the past few months  (with my husband, when he can stand it). And I found myself completely pulled in at first. Immersed in this world of twenty-something life that I can remember very clearly at 42. When you’re 42, you have way more flashbacks to 22 than you did at 32. There’s just something about being 40-something that makes 20 years ago feel like two months ago, at times.

I think it’s because you just can’t actually fathom how 20 years went by as fast as all those “old” professors and parents told you it would. Damn. Now, I am one of them, one of those irksome adults who can’t shut her trap fast enough before something spills out like, “When I was your age…,” or “You can’t imagine how fast the time goes….” Gag me with a spoon (and yes, that is an 80’s reference in all likelihood). Deal with it.

I just realized that Lena Dunham’s name kind of sounds like “done ham,” which is what you feel like at times when you’re “my age.”

Most of this blog entry is pure fun, but there is a very heavy, sorrowful undercurrent to knowing that 22 year-old girl can’t just walk back on stage even though you still feel her there, which leads me back to “Girls.”

Honestly, I love the realness, the dirty, behind-the-scenes moments when the college friends are expressing their true, petty emotions. There is so much truth in what it was like trying to figure out yourself and the world. Many friends I knew were struggling with their inner lack of depth and the desire for it, and this show gets that really well.

But it also makes me hollow and empty oftentimes. It reminds me of all the lonely wandering I did in my twenties, and of how much knowledge I felt I possessed just a few years after college graduation – sullied and awakened by the real world. Ha.

At 42, I understand how little I knew. I feel pained for that young woman who dealt with working in a bagel shop at 24, feeling grossly underpaid, overqualified, and inadequate in so many ways.

It’s also precisely these memories that make me feel grateful for my age. For all the looking back, the pining to walk into the college clubs again in one of my much too tiny thrift store dresses, I am grateful to be here. Grateful to be looking back instead of still sitting on a bar stool, longing for Mr. Right. Grateful to know that I had only skinned the surface of any real depth or knowledge, and that even now, I am hoping to need a zillion more shovels before it’s over.

Thank you, Ms. Dunham. I am feeling much more done with pining to be a girl.

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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