"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When we were warriors.

This is me as a tyke.

Yes it's a real rabbit and yes, it's on a leash. His name was Powder Puff.

I'm not certain how old I was. Maybe four. Note the sassy twinkle of the eyes, the swagger in the pose. I'm young enough to still believe in... everything.

At this age:

1. I loved raptors and lions and basically all predators with large claws and big fangs.

2. I tried to catch snakes if I saw them in the yard.

3. On Saturday mornings, I acted out scenes from The Roy Rogers Show. My grandmother's Chihuahua was Bullet. I was Roy.

4. I could spend hours trying to climb sunbeams because I just knew I could do it.

5. I also just knew that if I tried hard enough, I could remember my life before I was born, and I could understand what dogs were saying when they barked, and other impossible things.

I was a warrior.

There is more, but as I traveled through life with my family, in a slow, steady motion, they taught me that I wasn't magical, that snakes were frightening, and Chihuahuas weren't German Shepherds, and there are girl things and boy things. Girl things involve pretending that you are nicer and weaker and less human than you really are. Pretending you can't pick up heavy things, or curse like a sailor, or emit any bodily noise.

At least I had some practice acting on Saturday mornings.

Once I started to grow curves, I learned another lesson about girls versus boys. Girls had a Something called Virginity. It was precious, and once it was gone, it could never be retrieved and the angels wept. Boys could talk about having a thing called Virginity, but what they really had was Inexperience. Not so precious, and once it was gone, well, good riddance.

The day I started my period, I remember thinking, "Well, that's that. My freedom is officially over."

The day I felt uncomfortable in a man's presence because I understood what he could take from me and how important it was and that I feared him because of my own knowledge, completed my transition.

The warrior was gone. In her place was a mouse, scurrying from safety to safety.

I'm thinking about all these things because I'd really like my female pirate to be something more than a fantasy girl who waves a sword and avenges her tormentors. I want her to be a warrior, a woman who lives her life being who she is. Maybe she'll have a hawk, maybe she'll play with snakes, or even possess magic.

But she will not be lessened by sex. And she won't pretend to be less than who she is.

How do I accomplish what society has discouraged within myself? What does this woman look like?

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