Day: June 4, 2011

lostgirrrls — a chapter from my feminist memoir “whitegirrrl” #amwriting #feminism #80’s #women #hetero #themes

Yours is the generation of Lost Girls.  You’re thinking about this when you see the photos in remembered booths, best friends, lives that divided along lines you followed in your twenties.  You were both in school, weren’t you?

Away from the city you don’t go to nightclubs.  You go on dates, because white girls don’t go to bars alone, do they? There is live music and there are concerts and these are the sort of places that the dates take you when you go and when you aren’t studying on weekends, trying to catch up after the week full of jobs you are trying to do.  The jobs where the men control everything, and every move you make.

White girls are trying to survive in the 1980’s.

White girls are on their own.

All girls are trying to survive in the 1980’s.  You remember this looking back, now, at yourself, and at her, and there was this time the two of you had grown up and you were alone, facing the whole wide world full of men that were going to be coming at you and did come at you in those years when everybody fell into everybody’s bed like it was a natural thing.  At least that is how it was in California in those days, once upon a time.

Openings.

Because you are in the Art History department you are part of the museum crowd.  You help by going to shows, don’t you?  You’d rather be showing your own work, wouldn’t you?  But there is no place for you to do that because almost everything is dominated by males in this era.  It’s later you learn about the Guerilla Girls.

Gallerygirrrl.  Galleygirrrl proofreading for a newspaper.

It’s one hell of a toss around isn’t it?

Men toss you in that decade.  The toss is in and out of beds, in and out of departments at work, in and out of love and in and out of heart because yours had already been broken.  Twice.  You’re going it alone, you decide that summer.  You don’t want to be a girlfriend anymore.  Friends is enough.  Friends go out on the town together in little groups, listen to little bands in mixed company.  There are no commitments.

The man from the Yukon took you home after his show, didn’t he?  He had gigantic ceramic sculptures he was making and he hand painted them after the firings.  The slabs he made were tortured looking.  Some kind of statement about the world and all it’s gloss and gilt crammed chunklike into the clay.  He crackled just like his glazes, his long blond waist length hair was a relic to you until he told you where he had come from.  Static electricity.

His body was made of Nordic ice, a bear, a viking.  He might have dressed in skins for all you knew.  They like to deposit their art at your house and they give it to you as if you are supposed to be some kind of groupie for them.

Galio and you.  The summer of wildness, when you are free and your apartments are next door to each other.  It’s strange to see who comes and goes in those years, because you aren’t the best of friends anymore.  You’re more like neighbors sharing tidbits.  Idle gossip between your multiple jobs.

The boys think they have a right and that the two of you are interchangeable, as if you’d ever do that to each other.  You never would.  One man for one woman.  That’s how you feel, anyway.  There is no time for boyfriends because you are working so hard just trying to keep afloat.  You’re out on your own and you’re beginning to understand the world full of men and how they feel about things.

You’re getting your first credit card too, because you work.  You put money in the credit union.  The women you work with do this too.  It’s only a little but you’re saving.  It would have been impossible to ask for any help from your family in those years.  You planned on making it on your own.  They could have helped you, but they weren’t even thinking about that, were they?  These are the years when the nuclear family falls apart in America.  All of a sudden there isn’t one.  Everyone is on their own, aren’t they?

“He’s cute,” she says.  “That hair.”

“He’s leaving.”

You let him camp at your place for three days on the futons, didn’t you?

He came from the tundra, all Yukon Jack and polar bears and stories of survival and staying warm in little cabins that they leave for travelers by the side of the road.  He was what was called a three night stand, in those days.  Three nights where he left you a giant piece of pottery and he rolled around on your futons pulling you on top of him and that was happening to Galio too, upstairs because you could hear them sometimes through the ceiling.  Streams of them want to come home with you, don’t they?

Streams and streams of men line up for the generation of lostgirrrls.

Not one of them ever sees inside you.  Not one of them ever wants to know you, do they?  Not really.

You’ve got a sponge.

You can never be without that can you?  They make portable ones that you carry in your purse like tampons.  Birth control.  The most important thing in the world because what the two of you have already learned is that the men you are meeting don’t want any children.  They want to fuck you, but they could care less if you got pregnant.  They could care less about sperm and egg.  They expect you to abort if you might get pregnant by mistake.  They don’t even care, do they?

You’re watching reruns of old TV shows you saw in your youth, knowing you were the beaver, aren’t you?

That was all they wanted of you, if it wasn’t going to be meals they thought you might provide.  They were looking for the lost hearth.  It’s not as if they planned to provide the hearth, themselves.

You fake it with them.  You fake making some kind of sound as if it was really good and they really meant something and you make these little sounds when they come after two little minutes because that is all any of them know how to do, isn’t it?

You’re some kind of cushion they want to pour themselves into, aren’t you?

They thought they had that right, didn’t they?

Because the two of you were lostgirrrls.

Because the two of you were white girls.

~

“lostgirrrls” — copyright 2011 — all rights reserved

*author note on music