C has been changing her profile picture these days. It was this waif-life kind of thing a few days ago—like small and childish and looking full of loneliness and longing—and then yesterday it became this grown-up looking picture. A sadness in the background, but almost arrogant in its implied sexuality.

It keeps doing stuff in my head I can’t quite figure out. I seem to keep remembering being proposed to. Those aren’t related in my mind at all. They don’t occur at the same time, but I think that they are related.

C and her friends are positioning themselves in relationship to their sexuality. They are forming a self-image, an adult self-image, and it’s an image of the self that incorporates the self as someone others might be sexually attracted to and that might be attracted to others.

I should have done all that—it’s not that I ever had any lovers after Nata. I did. But I have no sense of myself as someone who can do that.

I think this happened because, when other girls were positioning themselves as adult women, I was positioning myself as a widow. When they were thinking about how attractive they might be to others and what qualities they might want to accentuate, I was thinking I didn’t want to attract anyone.

Not that I didn’t have crushes or boyfriends, but those things were divorced from another, overriding sense of loss as being an identity.

At the same time, I think that sense of widowhood incorporates a wish for amnesia: a wish to forget I ever was a sexual or romantic human being. I want to forget what it was ever like to feel attracted to someone or to have been attractive to that person. It seems to be attenuated: my sense of myself as a sexual person stopped before it became anything, before it fully resolved into any kind of clear image. What I have instead is this picture of myself—and it’s one people reminded me of when I was a teenager—as a kind of Georgia O’Keeffe, who although she was married projected a sparseness you think of as being the result of being a widow.


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