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Dorothy Rompalske...[The book] expands upon its fascinating character studies with related...information and...provides even more insight into some of the most pressing social issues of our time.
"He waited a long time to leave my mother, feeling it a bad thing to do, a great taboo. He's a pretty tightly bound person. He wouldn't be in the vanguard, but then the changes initiated by our generation rippled upward. He finally left, and moved into a one-room apartment, and has been married three times since, not so happily. His second wife died. His third was a disaster: He was with her when I had cancer, which seemed to make no impression on them at all. His fourth, well, with her he seems pretty happy. He's certainly ended up in a far better place than he ever would have with my mother, which I guess is an argument for people to make the changes necessary to try to keep some happiness for themselves. He calls a lot now, and I go to see him.
"My parents are in their eighties, but there's this funny bond, like we're all old people wondering how much longer we have. I drew up my will and then made sure my mother's was in order. I jumped into their generation. Everyone will enter this place in time. But somehow a young person faced with her mortality, well, I speak from a place most people my age don't know.
"I never thought I'd go back to a Wellesley reunion, but for the twenty-fifth I sought them out. I was apprehensive, but wanted to understand why I'd hated it so badly, why it had been so traumatic. I ended up loving it, and came to think less about how fucked-up the college had been and more about who I was when I arrived there. I saw myself as a victim: that they were privileged and I was not, which I now think was mostly my inherited paranoia. And as much as I wish it had been happier, given who I was and my family, it was the only experience I couldhave had.
"In many ways, the sad tone of my life was set there. I hoped I'd find a place, and didn't. To me it felt like a cul-de-sac, that things were closing down instead of opening up. Other people whose families thought they were great had a stronger sense of themselves, and just flowered. Martha Teichner knew she was a good storyteller and found her place in TV and . . . zoom. I wish I'd had that sense of myself early on, but I couldn't have: My father was too critical of who I was, and what he told me about life was too poisonous and frightened. I thought you had to sell your soul to have a secure life. I felt alienated and lost, and that feeling stayed with me.
"At reunion, I stood up and said, 'Here's the most important thing that's happened to me,' and told them about my cancer. People were really moved, which moved me to tears. I thought, How kind to give me that recognition, to offer courage. And what a shame I had felt so isolated as a student, when I feel so close to these women now. What a terrific community I might have found. All the time I thought we had nothing in common, that they all had it made. Now I see they've struggled, too, that their lives played surprises on them, that everyone has endured grief. No one has gone unscathed. We had more choices than we knew how to deal with, and most of us still are confused. Should I be doing this, or that?"
|1||The Wellesley Years||3|
|2||Mothers and Daughters||49|
|3||Rebellions and New Solidarities||74|
|5||Breaking the Barriers||133|
|6||Balancing Work and Family||158|
|8||On Their Own||215|
|10||In Search of Self||258|