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.
My mother always said, “youth is wasted on the young.” She was so right!