The whole "nutritional support for the mature woman" was the bit that got me. I kept thinking, what the fuck does that mean? Do mature women survive heart attacks? Do they run long distances (away from everything and towards nothing at all)? Maybe they do! Do they hold steady jobs? Yes!
But then: would a mature woman have this particular grade of hangover (the one I had when I was in Earth Fare buying the vitamins) after drinking gin with her friend Will who was going to leave her and move to Pennsylvania? Would a mature woman be no better capable of making adult decisions than she was at age 22 -- the point at which (I guess) I started making such decisions?
Maybe a mature woman would realize that there are no real adults. That adulthood is a myth. There are no adults (adulthood is a myth).
Would a mature woman continue to consult her tarot cards in the hope that they might guide her in her decisions? Would she write down her dreams and read through their symbols for meaning? Or get tattoo after tattoo (even though she still hides them from her parents who have no idea that she has any)? Would she be so staunchly childless?
Would a mature woman get this asymmetrical haircut? Would she still believe in ghosts and assert with complete confidence that she's seen one? Would she wear a Cure T-shirt from the 1980s and dance around the house for hours alone while listening to Typhoon or Live or Sleigh Bells or Father John Misty or Neutral Milk Hotel or P.J. Harvey or Sleater Kinney?
Would she panic? Would she float away at the worst possible moment?
Oh, I don't think so. She would
Calm. Right. Down.
Would a mature woman continue not to eat animals, when her father (still alive) informed her when she was 18 that this was "just a phase," and that someday she'd "be an adult and have a family to feed"? Where's that family? When will the phase end?
Would she continue to get lost in narrative, in books, in fiction, when there are real world problems to address, and would she continue to feel powerless to stop those problems? Would she continue to think that women and men are equal, that animals are people, that people deserve rights, that rights are a human construction, that rights are a fiction? That all of it is fiction? That all of us deserve deep, deep ethical consideration nonetheless?
The things that marked maturity for me when I was a child are the things I will never have: assuredness, security, trust in some higher power, the certainty of a soul mate -- and the ability to impart these things as attainable truths to those less mature, those in search of their later selves. I don't believe that the mature people who imparted these things to me believed them then either. But I'm just being more honest.
A mature woman would give of herself. She would avoid the conflicts and seek to assure. She would nurture and protect, and she would be dutiful, sober, and sane. She would stop buying Chuck Taylors.
She would listen to good advice; she would take care of herself. She would take great care. She would avoid the spotlight, the perceived unwarranted attention, the controversy.
She would stay out of the sun. Or at least wear sunscreen.
I used to draw or paint a portrait of myself at every birthday: one year a woman filled with glass, another, a woman growing tree limbs. Once pregnant. Once a dead body covered in hungry cats; the next year a woman hanged from a tree. An apple in my hand. An apple in my mouth. This year, a photo. Me in the evening. Me with tired eyes and the weight of many things upon me.
This is not a cry for help. It is a love letter to myself.
Would a mature woman fall in and out of love and fear being abandoned, particularly as no one has ever given her reason for this fear? Would she lash out and be always selfish, always self-interested, never willing to sacrifice that which she feels is her birthright?
I don't think so. I am not a mature woman. And this is me. And it is my birthday.