Sometimes I feel that I lived my life backwards. I got married at 23, and worked in small independent bookstores surrounded by women in their 50’s and 60’s. I was mothered, schooled in all things domestic, and rarely saw a boy/man my own age. Then the scales tipped and I headed west single and 33. Now I find myself surrounded by twenty something man-boys at my current independent bookstore. I often tell myself that we all get what we need when we need it. Maybe that’s why I’ve found myself reading a delightfully funny, witty, book called Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, a fellow bookseller. And although I didn’t have the typical twenty something experience of finding the first apartment in a strange city, drinking too much at the local bar, and nursing a hangover with a bloody mary, I can still appreciate those conversations filled with confusion and surprise. The whole world is presented to you and you have to pick something. Here is Isabel trying to make sense of post-college life.
Isabella’s days and weeks fell into a routine, but she always felt like there was something else she should be doing, something better that was waiting for her. Sometimes on Saturday afternoons, she and Mary went to the park across the street and ate hot dogs in the sun. Mary always brought her textbooks with her, and took notes and read. Isabella just stared at people.
“This is the first fall that I haven’t gone to school,” Isabella said to her once.
“Mmm-hmmmm,” Mary said. She turned a page and uncapped a highlighter.
“Maybe that’s why I feel so weird all the time,” Isabella said.
“Maybe,” Mary said. She filled the whole page with yellow smudges and Isabella was jealous of her. She didn’t want to go to law school, but Mary had purpose and assignments and for that Isabella envied her. All Isabella had was two bosses who just wanted muffins. And sometimes jelly.