September 9, 2009

Amelia, Virginia & Me

Like many people, I'm guessing, I've always had a passing understanding of Amelia Earhart and her mysterious vanishing act back in 1937. She was the stuff that an adventurous little girl's dreams are made of - flying a plane, thumbing her nose at convention, living her life on the edge, before seemingly falling off that edge.

I've never wanted my pilot's licence (though you know if the opportunity was dangled before me, I'd grab at it in a heartbeat). But many restless women have still felt a kindred spirit to Amelia, if only in her determination to live by her own rules. There's a new movie coming on next month (part of it was shot here in southern Ontario), so many books and articles will be all over the place.

Here's a great read from the New Yorker. While it delves into the theories and what-ifs that always surround a decades-old mystery, it also reveals more of the woman. I learned new things. And I was floored by this snippet she wrote to her husband on their wedding day:

"You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me. . . . In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. . . . I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all the confinements of even an attractive cage."

Ah. Sometimes you see your own heart in someone else's words, and it pulls you up short. This has long been the dilemma of women everywhere, but if you reveal it as truthfully as Earhart did, you open yourself up to so much. I read this, and read it again. It reminded me of a bookmark I have. "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." That's Virginia Woolf, who I believe would have gotten along famously with Amelia Earhart.

What makes me smile? That bookmark was given to me by my ex. I don't know if he intended it just to hold a page, but the words represented the freedom I should have had the brains and the backbone to acknowledge I needed from the very beginning.

Earhart no doubt died in a fiery crash (insert your grassy knoll theory here), and Woolf died with her rock-lined pockets in the middle of a stream. Both exited misunderstood, but under their own steam. And both left some sage wisdom behind for those of us who share the restlessness of not fitting. And not wanting to.


Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Personally, I think marriage is bull cookies the way society presents it. It's useful for raising kids and getting more money from the boss, otherwise it's been reduced to meaningless junk like the 1 hour video and stretch limo and clothes you can never wear anywhere else. True love doesn't need any of it. For those who endured and had a wonderful life in spite of society's ridiculous constraints, congratulations and more power to you. You were meant to be together and side stepped the traps.

September 09, 2009 2:53 PM  
Blogger Chris Nich said...

If you (that's anyone with an interest in 20th century writing & women or any combination there of) haven't read the complete A ROOM OF ONE's OWN, get thee a copy. If it hadn't been published in Sept. '29, (the Great Depression) maybe more would have been familiar with the Woolf's words at the time. It remains
timely for anyone, regardless of gender.

September 10, 2009 2:17 AM  

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