Not once, but twice in one day I was accused of being a man-hater. “Me?” I laughed. “No way!”
All I received was a shrug from the person (OK, both times it was a man) so I continued to explain myself. “But I date and think about men all of the time.”
“And I have a lot of male friends whom I adore.”
“And a son.”
“And I’m talking to you, aren’t I?”
You guessed it, another shrug.
When I relayed this conversation to the Fabulosities the following day, they howled with laughter, “You? You like men more than any of us!”
We were sitting in my backyard, or rather they were sitting and I was wrestling a rhododendron out of the ground. Rose continually told me to call helpful guy to come dig it out, but I insisted I wanted to do it myself.
“You never ask for help,” she chided me. “Let him do this for you.”
I ignored her and continued my digging while analyzing my supposed man hating tendencies. All at once, we looked at one another and said, “That’s it. It’s not that you hate men, it’s just that you’re self reliant.”
A filmstrip of events raced through my mind such as the time we were grilling fish and the propane ran out. The previous time this had happened Rose’s boyfriend had made a big deal about how complicated and difficult it was to change the tank, so I said, “T is on his way over, let’s have him fix it when he gets here.”
Willow laughed at my absurdity, told me to get a wrench, and within five minutes the fish was cooked to perfection.
Camping trips with women, midnight crying sessions with friends, even amazing all night dates with men are usually followed up with the post-coital eating and talking with the Fabulosities. Scene after scene of meeting my own needs or relying on women to help me flashed through my mind as the refrain, “The girl who goes alone” played as the soundtrack.
“The girl who goes alone,” is the title of Elizabeth Austen’s chapbook as well as a refrain that has been haunting me since I heard her read it on May 5th at the Hugo House. She explains that no matter how much she shows a man she wants him, she doesn’t need him, and they both know the difference. And how people assume that by being a girl who goes alone, she isn’t afraid, but “This girl, who goes alone is always afraid…” Yet, that doesn’t mean she stops taking risks or living her life in the way she chooses, because it is worth it to be afraid, in order to “…hear myself. So I can feel real to myself.”
Chills covered my body while listening to Elizabeth read this poem and the audience was silenced for a full minute after she finished. The poem, and chills, continue to provide insight that “a girl who goes alone” may doubt herself at times and perhaps isn’t even alone, but she is someone who listens to herself first and foremost. She challenges herself to face her fears and takes risks. She knows how to get her needs met and with that, comes confidence and abilities. She loves and desires others, possibly even men, and can be hurt, but does not crumble when alone.
But she is not a man-hater, she is a self-lover.