I still have not finished the book, in case you were wondering. I have the end, here in my head. I am circling it, waiting to land, not yet ready. No one may see this one, this story of a girl that became me, and that is all right. I can wait for the next.
Like many writers I know, especially women, I read books before my time: Silas Marner, Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I would go to the classics section of our tiny town bookstore, and pick them out, gravely. My seventh grade algebra teacher fought with me over Clan of the Cave Bears. I don't think you should be reading that, she said. I do, I said. There was then some kind of detention situation.
I didn't understand the books, what the women did, what was done to them. I understood that this was the world I would inherit, this was what I was born into.
Do you know that I was once on a horse that ran away, got spooked, went wild? I was four or five. A man chased it down. He had silver hair. He grabbed onto the reins, and slowed us, and said, You held on. How did you do that?
Jane Eyre at nine. I didn't understand the woman in the attic, who she was. I believed Mr. Rochester, as Jane did. Was it any wonder that my friend Catherine, a director, a theatre student, fifteen years later in grad school, would suddenly look up from the lesson and say: You would be a perfect Jane Eyre. She apologized. I am always casting in my head, she said. It's your darkness, I guess.
I know my darkness. I know the end. I know, Mr. Rochester, we are perfect for each other.
I am not mad. I will never be mad. I am not mad, but I am wild; wild enough to hold on; wild enough to stand perfectly still, my arms raised at my sides, to stand for hours in a snowstorm and live; I am wild enough to wait.
And to wait for.