I was supposed to meet someone at the Barnes and Noble in Pasadena. He didn’t show.
I didn’t really expect him to.
But I didn’t want to miss a chance of checking out a new book store. And the meeting supplied a justification for the 6 dollars I had to fork out for parking.
In the bargain bin, for ONE dollar, I found a hardback of Molly Peacock’s Paradise, Piece by Piece.
I’d never heard of her before, but the back of the book said, “By exploring her choice not to have children, Molly Peacock discovers what has made her herself.”
That seemed worth a buck.
As it turns out, Molly Peacock is a poet of sonnets, and someone I should perhaps be aware of, since I aspire to be a literature snob.
Well, the book is supposed to be about her choice not to have children.
She’s from an earlier time than I; to me the choice not to have children does not seem so amazing. This is due in a large part to the battle that 60s and later feminists did to change American culture. Women now are not defined entirely by the female capacity of hatching eggs and lactating.
Not so much anyway.
So for me, the thrust and thread of the stories was how Molly learned to deal with others’ expectations for her.
Her mother expected things from her.
Her father expected things.
Her sister expected.
Her lovers, her husbands, her employers and her students expected things.
Random strangers expected things.
But she also expected things from herself.
She had to learn to listen to herself and screen out other people.
It’s a very hard thing to do, to choose and shape your own destiny. Deciding on the shape of your life, what you will and won’t do, based fundamentally on your own desires and needs takes courage. It is not accomplished in one moment.
I like how she continues to revisit her choices and decisions–sometimes because others challenge her, but sometimes because she herself is completely unsure of what she’s doing.
I relate to that.
The books is on sale on Amazon, too. It’s definitely worth it.
Good bathtub reading.