I’ve been living with my boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment for about a year and a half. It’s been great…well, it’s been weird, but mostly in a good way. For the first two years we were dating, we really only saw each other on weekends because I had a roommate and we lived in different parts of town, so I like that I get to see him every day instead of just talking on the phone every night.
As much as I like living with Eric, there are times when it’s like having a roommate. And having a roommate always makes me a little self-conscious about certain rituals that I only indulge in when I live alone. Like yoga in the living room is fine when I have my own place, but a little weird if I have to worry that someone will walk in and see me in the middle of a downward facing dog. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about doing yoga, it’s just hard to relax when the door opens and I’ve got my butt in the air. Those weird face masks women sometimes wear? I love them. Sometimes I like to watch cheesy Hallmark movies when I’m really stressed out, but I don’t want to watch them with anyone else. That’s strictly a solo way of dealing with life. Ditto cleaning marathons with NCIS on in the background. That is a show I don’t like to watch, but that I love to ignore. I only watch it at the gym and while cleaning my apartment, and I don’t want to have to explain that to anyone.
Eric is working in Dallas this week, and while I will miss him, I have also been plotting out a little girl time. I did a little yoga in the living room. And last night I watched Bridesmaids while I painted my toes. The at home pedicure has proved that I am a little rusty on girl time as I went wildly out of the lines. But the point is that I was craving those little rituals that I can indulge in alone. Maybe that’s why girl time for me is a solitary thing.
I have girl friends, and I love them. My best friend is a girl! No, but seriously, girl time for me lately has been about considering the world of women like an anthropologist. It’s about thinking about the rituals and rules that are imposed on us and thinking about the things that give me comfort, the things I think are stupid, and the things I think are stupid but that you do anyway because it matters to someone else. So, a lot of my “research” has been reading books and watching movies that feature women who are unapologetically operating in the world as women. They deal with things that are unique to us as ladies and with the complicated idea of what it means to be unconventional “for a girl.”
Bridesmaids does a really fabulous job of dealing with the complexities of being happy for a friend, but also a little jealous or sad that you aren’t in the same place in your life as well as being a girl who likes beer or dancing both literally and enthusiastically to a cheesy song from your high school years. And those are things I am down with. I also have been obsessed with reading female authors more than I ever have before. Especially essays and memoirs like Tina Fey’s and Samantha Bee’s books about being funny and weird and smart and also a smart ass. Those are women I’d like to model myself after.
Last weekend I went to a baby shower, and I had a moment when I first walked in the door where I thought to myself, “No! Nope! Not for me!” I heard squeals, and there was so much pink, and almost all the women were blonde. I was not ready for this. Fortunately, I put my purse down and grabbed a mimosa and began to calm down a little bit. There were cool things about the shower like the fact that people were asked to bring books instead of cards, and soon I was flipping through awesome kids books and Elvis themed Rockabilly kids’ records and having a good time. But when a friend of mine leaned over and said, “If I had a baby shower, I’d want it to be a couples thing. And I’d want it to be at a restaurant with a bar. Is that weird?” I thought. Not weird at all! I’d totally go to that shower.
But I also think some people would find it weird. Because people love to tell women that their own unique way of being a woman is “wrong.” Me not loving a baby shower is wrong. The idea of so much pink at a baby shower is wrong. Having booze at a shower is wrong. Not playing more baby themed games is wrong. Playing baby themed games at all is wrong. Me not planning to have kids is wrong. Having too many kids? Also, wrong. Whatever you are doing, there is someone who thinks you’re not doing it right.
It’s dumb to say that being a woman is hard. It is what it is, and parts of it are a pain, but there are also some nice perks. But being a woman is complicated because there’s a lot of disagreement over what being a woman means. Dudes have it easier. You can be a scruffy hipster dude who drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon and rides bikes. You can be a football fan or a baseball fan or a soccer fan or you can not give a shit about sports at all. TV and movies will back you up on the idea that you can be a chubby guy with a good sense of humor and marry a total babe. Because you are funny.
Being a funny woman, though, is much more complicated. Can a funny lady make fart jokes? Can she be funny and not a total mess when it comes to dating or work? Is being a funny woman just laughing when men make jokes to show you have a sense of humor? Does she exist at all?
One of my favorite bits from Tina Fey’s Bossypants is when she tells a story about Amy Poehler making a joke that a guy dismissed as gross. Amy just yelled, “I don’t care if you like it!” And figuring out who I am as a woman has been a lot about the process of learning to do what I like even though those things are full of contrasts–drink beer, get pedicures, vote Democrat, go to church, live with a boy, swear (a lot), dance badly on purpose, drink whiskey, turn down a drink when I’m not in the mood, go to the gym, eat burgers and pizza, go to movies alone, read at a bar–and say to anyone who suggests that I’m not doing this whole “being a woman” thing corrrectly “I don’t care if you like it!”