I think of a woman, sometimes. She is younger than my mother but older than my sister would be (if I had one). Sometimes, she is polished and strong and seems to be coated in something like Teflon or shatterproof glass. She wears suits – immaculate with pristine pinstripes, wrinkleless and taut like her cheekbones – and her hair is dark and smooth, and she isn’t in a committed relationship. I imagine that in the evenings, when she is done with work and important, serious things that require a complicated cell phone and high blood pressure, she takes off her clothes and scrutinizes herself in a mirror, and then slides into a tub of scalding hot water and holds a glass of wine to her forehead and sighs with both stress and relief.
Other times, she is soft and mussed and a little rough around the edges, and she has laugh lines at the corners of her mouth and crow’s feet around her eyes. She wears old, faded t-shirts that she probably owned in college and leather sandals that have molded to her feet, and she has messy, curly hair the color of roasted chestnuts. She has a boyfriend or maybe a husband and a house full of animals and kids. In the evenings, they cook together, chopping and stirring and solemnly placing dabs of flour on each other’s noses; and they fall asleep holding hands.
This woman is wise. She knows about love and heartbreak and loss. She knows when to throw out old milk and how often you really need to vacuum and how to balance a checkbook. This woman knows things, and I want to ask her questions.
I want to ask her if, when I am her age, I ever figured out what I wanted to do… if I will love my job (or if I will have a job). I want to ask her if she takes risks. I want to ask her if she quits beating herself up for past mistakes she’s made. I want to ask her if she ever quits biting her nails.
I want to ask her if she still loves reading and spends as much time in Barnes and Noble as she does in the grocery store. I want to ask her if she still doodles and draws. I want to ask her if she is in good shape… if she isn’t, she better hit the gym.
I want to ask her if she learned how to do her laundry so that her whites don’t end up red or blue. I want to ask her where she lives – if she lives in a small apartment in a city, or a sprawling house with a lawn and trees.
I want to ask her if she ever meets the love of her life, and how she met him. I want to ask her if she learns to love herself. I want to ask her if the people she hopes are still in her life now, are in deed still in her life later. I want to ask her if she is happy.
I want to ask her if she will know any of these answers. I have many questions for her, but I suppose I’ll have to wait.