I have a pile of books by the late Mary Daly. I found her in the stacks at the library when I was in teacher school, but wanted to go to feminism school. Was there such a thing? I had to make a living. That stack gathers dust. Reading Mary Daly fills me with rage that has nowhere to go in the life I live. Kid in college, traveling, re-inventing feminism and social justice, coming home to tell me new words for old problems, seeing her generation’s feminism as superior. I bite my tongue and hope it is.
The blood in my veins boils until mid morning. Three a.m. is the cooling time. It’s not menopause. That was before. That’s already passed. The fiery heat in my marrow is something else.
I am an insomniac. I don’t remember it being so terrible growing up, but in the last fifteen years, it’s been bad.
At night, sometimes, I stack books to read, but I’m too tired to read them. I huddle beside them on the couch, cat on my feet.
I’ve filled my home with books, each one of them bought with a hope of peace so deep I could finally sleep. I have a pile of books by the late Mary Daly. I found her in the stacks at the library when I was in teacher school, but wanted to go to feminism school. Was there such a thing? I had to make a living. That stack gathers dust. Reading Mary Daly fills me with rage that has nowhere to go in the life I live. Kid in college, traveling, re-inventing feminism and social justice, coming home to tell me new words for old problems, seeing her generation’s feminism as superior. I bite my tongue and hope it is.
I saw Mary Daly speak once. She stood at the podium with her pile of books, some by her, others not, never looking at them, but from time to timer, her hand settled, resting on the stack, sticky notes, book marks, assorted.
When Mary Daly spoke, back curved forward with age and the weight of wisdom and a radical feminist’s life fatigue, her voice needing no microphone, resonated base string-like, quaking in my rib cage.
She told me to be-longing. There were other women in the room, but she looked straight at me, the only one smiling, nodding, applauding, raising my arms double fist bumps. Her words weren’t academic to me, though it took me dozens of reads per paragraph to read her work.
The other women seemed bored. Silent. I heard them talking. The classes they were teaching at which college even the women so much younger than me. The doctoral programs they’d been in even the women younger than me.
Inside Mary Daly’s writings, I found the wildflowers of the alpine mountains – growing jubilant and alone. In the new words she created, compound feminist words, I felt the strength of so many small animals living despite the ravenous teeth of the wilderness and the merciless trucks of men bearing down on anything that dared to cross the pitiless concrete. She knew the mightiness in small living things like women like me.
She took what was the real earth and held it up and I heard the lives and deaths of my woman kin. She wrote about us women with Capitials and called Patriarchy, the Phallocracy and time/Time a Phallocractic construct.
I held my book to her to sign. She read the sticky notes I had. She took her time. Nodded her head, shook her head. I don’t know if passed her test or not. I said, “I love this book. I love them all.”
She said, “What’s your thesis?”
I stared. “No thesis. I just read.”
“What do you do?” Her eyes and her glasses looked large inches from my face.
I didn’t have a job at the time. I take care of my daughter I told her. I said, “I read.”
Without a smile, she looked at my hand, “You’re married.” But she wrote in my book, “Be-longing/Be Longing.”
I come from a marriage that happened because of my wanting to be born – my mother married the man who made her pregnant after the spring snow was done for the ski season. A man who wasn’t that bad for a man of his ilk which is pretty bad for a human being, all in all, but humans have such a low bar for what makes a man not too terrible or maybe it’s that white men can be without much consequence. My mother wanted something more, someone more until she was free. Then what man could allow her to be free while married to her? None she ever found.
And now I come from my own marriage.
And I come from kin who’ve always worked, they had to, they despised education, they had to. They didn’t question. They obeyed. The next generation – my brother’s sons. They obey. They don’t question. They’re armed still.
Until my mother with both feet in the world. She had to love ideas and she had to work. She had to love idealism and she had to navigate.
Where does my daughter say she comes from? How will she navigate? Where will she belong?
I want her to be-longing and not to belong and not to obey.
I want not to belong and not to obey. I want to be something more, but I am just this woman I am. Typing here. Reading there. Feeding chickens. Taking the year off from work with teens to work on writing. Working with teens, paying bills, not saving money. Relying on more money.
I want not to belong to money. I’d rather it belong to me. I’d rather that be true for everyone.
You know. So we can all be-longing. Such are my thoughts until the cooling time when even the freeway is quiet and the fighter jets rest.
So, here I am now in the heat of early night, being longing, waking up.
Unable to sleep.