I find myself wondering if my beloved will ever be a reality and not a fantasy. The reason is because I wonder privately if any man would put up with a Shakespeare or Dickens in his wife (not that I am that great an author) or support a Melville (whose Moby Dick was not recognized for its greatness until after his death). Perhaps that is why Jane Austen never married; why only one of the three Brontë sisters married, and only a year before she died; and why Elizabeth Gaskell is largely neglected. It is a unique woman who can be like Elizabeth Browning: happily married and a great poet. Even today, if you look at the living female writers who are ripe in years–by whom I mean Joyce Carol Oats and Dora Lessing–people ignore the possibility that these writers deserve to be classed with Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. Though Joyce Carol Oats has had many accolades, it is assumed she is not in “that class” of authors. Of course, I have only read one of Oats’ books (Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang) and only intend to read Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. I did like Foxfire a lot, but it is not considered Oats’ best book.
Yet I always wanted to climb the steep road to literary glory. I have written a great deal, some of it good and some of it very bad… yet the unhappy truth is that it has been a solitary climb. I never really had anyone except my mother’s support. Not that I am not grateful: I don’t have to pay rent or utilities as long as I live with her, and she has been good moral support. I believe I am living a dream she never got to, somehow. My stepdad would not let her take time off work to write. Certainly it would not have been possible with Dad, either.
Still, I often ponder those words from Fiddler on the Roof,
I used to tell myself
that I had everything
but that was only half true
I had an aim in life,
and that was everything,
but now I even have you!…
I used to wonder, “Could there be a wife
to share such a difficult, wondering kind of life?”
The irony is that though women have often sacrificed for men’s dreams, I do not know of many men who sacrificed career or monetary goals for their wives to surpass their own accomplishments… perhaps that is why The Bible According to Eve was so necessary… to pull out the women of the Bible into the limelight. To make Sarah and Hagar as important as Abraham.
Perhaps I do not blame men for not stepping up to make me a married woman who writes for a living, however little money I make at it. I am too eccentric to those who know me, too mentally ill. The only men who were interested were not exactly desirable specimens–like members at Breakthrough, whom I just couldn’t see dating–or, worse, married men who I really wished would leave me alone. Perhaps those men I have been drawn to have seen me as “an undesirable specimen” the same way I saw low-functioning club members as. After all, they would have to admit they were dating a Bipolar patient who is also partially Schizophrenic. Perhaps the human heart has limits in the love it contains for others…
Yet I have dreams… The belief that despite my absence of a love life, I will someday be in the literature and history books as an author like Charles Dickens. If the Victorian Age more honestly belonged to Dickens and Thackery than even Queen Victoria herself and the Gilded Age was named by Mark Twain, the American writer of his Age, perhaps the Age of Alderson will come… even if I am old when it arrives. Perhaps that will be the consolation to my nearly loveless life.