Saturday, June 9, 2012

More On Girls Who Read

First, read this.
Then, read this.

By the time the girl who reads grows up, she knows that the only men worth having are Darcys.

Mr. Darcy and the girl who reads meet at least twice every year as she slowly relishes Pride and Prejudice as though she is eating a really, really good chocolate cake.  You know the kind--rich and soft with buttercream frosting and raspberry sauce?  You have to eat it slowly.  Relish, one might say.

Women who read are all Elizabeth, and we can relax because Darcy will love her every time.  Love her every single time.  Without fail.  Darcy is good like that.  Consistent.

Every time Elizabeth is too smart, especially for a woman, Darcy loves her.  Every time she's not the prettiest girl at the party, Darcy loves her.  Every time she speaks her mind to the point of argumentative, Darcy loves her.  Every time her family is a complete disaster, Darcy loves her.

This is the dream... the impossible, unbelievable dream.

I want to be clear, this--tall, handsome Darcy finds you, fights for you, marries you, and, with long declarations of passionate love, carries you off to his mansion to live happily ever after--is not expected to happen in the real of life of a girl who reads.

Real life is different. The girl who reads will readily admit that she is far too aware of this fact.

As she grows up, the girl who reads is done settling.  She's done dating around, done giving it time, done waiting it out and seeing if he will eventually show up in one form or another.  She's been hopeful.  She's been patient.  She has worked on herself.  She has been open to possibility.  Sometimes she's stubbornly, hard-headedly, stupidly refused to see the reality of the object of her affection and lived to be deeply embarrassed.

And she doesn't want to talk about it.

She's stopped looking.
She's stopped waiting.
She's planting her herbs in the pots she's gathered herself, determined to fill her life to over-flowing with cooking, knitting, music, clothes, the paint on her walls, her family of friends... determined to make this life, this one right here, the one she's actually living, the very best it can be.

Without Darcy.


She's going to do it because life is too short to waste it pining over men who won't appreciate the subtleties of her morning routine... who won't notice when she has her nails and toes done... who won't allow her the emotional space to cry at the end of that bad movie that reminds her of her dad... who won't have enough thoughts and feelings about the world to keep up with her. They won't be strong enough for her darkness, and they won't be able to light the corners of her heart with laughter.

She won't waste any more of her time.

She's going to assemble her own life.  It won't include you.  You took too long.  She couldn't find you, no matter how many internet dating sites and blind dates she, humiliated, suffered through.

When you meet her, realize that she's learned to be loud because she's afraid.

Afraid that you will see her frazzled edges (the ones she tries to keep covered with pedicures and fresh flowers in her house) and run the other way.  Afraid that she'll never be pretty enough for you to stay.  Afraid that she'll never be able to think of enough interesting things to say.  Afraid that you don't like kissing her as much as she likes kissing you, and afraid because she likes kissing you as much as she likes kissing you.

Afraid that if she tells you too much about the actual state of her heart, you will think that she is trying to pressure you into fixing it... into staying... why aren't you running away again?  Or worse, that you will figure out what she keeps in the locked box in the very back of her very back-est hiding place:

That she very desperately needs to be loved... all the way loved... and is waiting for that.

Holding out.

Holding way, way out.

She's not looking at you because she doesn't want to see you not looking at her.  She will almost run away from you because she doesn't think that you will chase her.  She doesn't think that you would ever want to catch her.

When you ask her how she is, she will be fine every time.  Fantastic even.  Great.  Doing really, really well.  She will look you right in the eyes.  When she's not fine, she'll look down before you catch her almost-tears.

And she is doing really, really well.  She has a career.  She is educated.  She has interesting friends, a dynamic life, purpose, passion, intelligence.  She has books.  She has lots of books.  Her life is useful, and when it is not useful, it is interesting.

You didn't read the book, so I'll tell you what's important about Darcy.

He's steady.  Darcy means what he says.  You know that from the kind of man he is.  When he tells Elizabeth that he loves her, she can trust it to her very core.  It's not going to change.  He will die loving her.

He has principles.  He's not doing this casually.  Darcy doesn't do anything casually.  Girls who read aren't into casual.  If it's going to be casual, we'd rather be reading.  The book lasts all the way until it's done, and if you're not ready to be done, you can read it again.

Also, Darcy wants Elizabeth.

He doesn't just like her.  He wants her.  He doesn't just think that she is interesting.  He wants her.  He wants to hear her thoughts.  He wants to tell her all about his insides.  He wants to take her, to hold her, to ravish her--you can hear it in the way he speaks to her.

Yes, we want you to have a job.  We want you to have an education of some kind.  We want you to have interests and passions and other things, but what's seductive about Darcy isn't his money.  It isn't his height.  It isn't his place in the world.  That's not why he's the object of so very many day-dreams.

It's him.  It's the kind of man he is.

Do you want a girl who reads?

Ask her out.  Take her to dinner, take her to coffee, cook with her, take her for a walk... it doesn't matter.  Ask.  Pick her up.  Drive.  Pay.  Insist.

Listen to her.  Make eye contact, and hold it.  Speak.  Say something important... something intelligent or vulnerable or funny or honest.  Give her time to say something back.  She may be a better listener at the start.  Use patience.  Ask her what she's read.  Ask her what she learned.  Don't talk about the weather.  She sucks at small talk.

If she'll let you, read what she writes.  She may say no, but it's mostly because she's afraid you'll be bored.  Ask again.  Her writing is the clearest way she's learned to articulate the parts of herself she protects, and you need to know about those parts.  You need to love those parts.

Realize that her life is orchestrated to not need you... to avoid needing you.  She doesn't need you.  She wants you.  Want her.  Sometimes, need her.  Tell her so.

Bring her flowers.  It will be best if you picked them out of a yard somewhere.

Let her be loud.  Look for what she is hiding.

Put your hand on the small of her back at parties.  Hold her hand.  Kiss her in public.  Claim her.  Wrap your arms around her while she's doing the dishes.  Distract her.  Spend the whole morning in bed.

Tell her that she is beautiful.  She may never have heard it in her whole life.  She may vehemently disagree with you.  Hold her head in your hands, look into her eyes, and tell her that she is beautiful.  When she cries, tell her again.  Mean it.

Don't say it if you don't mean it.

Don't fear her tears.  She fears them; be strong enough for both of you.

Fight with her.  Make her yell at you.  Let her cry.  Give her time to speak what needs spoken.  Hold her when it's over.  Don't leave.  Instead, stay.

Hold her.  Know how much it takes for her to admit to you that she is struggling.  She may want to talk about it, but she may not.  She may just want you to hold her.  Do it.  You may never know how much that helps.

Tell her that you love her.  Tell her the moment you know it.  Tell her again.  Tell her on the phone.  Tell her by text message.  Tell her in front of her friends.  In front of your friends.  In front of strangers.  Tell her again and again and again.  It will take her a long time to believe you, but those moments will sustain her while she learns to accept that you're telling the truth.

Wait.  Be patient.  There are parts of her that are growing that never grew before.  She's been hurt and disappointed every single time she's tried this, and trusting you takes courage every single day.

She's creating a space for you right up front--a warm, arms wide open, soft space for you to land.  She'd like you to stay awhile.  Stay forever.  You'll be stronger together.

It's worth it.

You will push and pull each other into better humans... she will dream big enough to keep up with yours, big enough to pull you into hers, to create whole new cities of dreams you never allowed yourself before.

Look for a girl who reads.

Don't just date her.
Love her.
Don't stop.

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