I hadn’t read the book in a long time – it’s the story of a young girl sent to live with a spinster aunt after her mother dies. I used to read the book because Julie, the heroine, was my age and I identified with her. Yesterday, I realized that I identify now with the spinster aunt.
I’m actually older than that aunt would have been, I think. And it is alarming how staid and unemotional and self-controlled and elderly she seems. Of course, the story is told from the point of view of the young girl, and a woman in her forties could appear elderly to a youngster…
But I look through the other books on my shelf, and not a one of them features a middle-aged woman as anything interesting.
This is shameful! This is heartbreaking! It’s dishonest, what’s more, and I hope someone will do soething serious about it before long. I don’t mean a comic series like the “Miss Julia” stories (which I couldn’t enjoy because of how implausible they seemed to me, when I read the first one) – but a real romance, in which a middle-aged woman is allowed to fall in love with all the wonder and amazement and even greater beauty than happens with the young folk.
I may be fifty, but my heart is as light and as capable of devotion and passion as it was when I was twenty – no! even more so, because the experiences of the past thirty years have taught me what a gift, what a treasure it is to be able to love – and to be loved.
In fact, I strongly suspect (and would dearly love a chance to prove it) that we older folks could make the youngsters blush with the ferocity of our passions – and not just the erotic ones, but the rest as well: the simple affections, the joys and delights of companionship, the fierceness of our loyalties, the power of our devotion, the joy and sense of privilege in our mutual service –
We have so much more, now, to bring into loving someone than we did as youngsters. Kids have the capacity, but not the refinement; we have been tried in a great many fires, and consequently are capable of loving better, more truly, than when we were young and green and innocent of the world.