In The Far

I am not sure that anyone can ever look back with a clear eye, and I am certain that a writer, whose editing apparatus is permanently set to On, cannot do it. The combined filters of recollection and writing always produce fiction. That is my theory.
I wrote the I Am Woman posts (below) as a way of giving context to my Twitter character Your Aunt Lola, who doles out maxims and advice mostly directed at a younger me, but I find now that the Younger Me elements of these stories seem as fictional as she is. Even if, on occasion, the events described run perilously parallel with fact.
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I Am Woman ~ La Dolce Vita

I knew several girls who married well, but they all became the same girl; same pale hair, same pale lips, same pale weekend garmentry. They had nice houses and nice cars and they went to yoga on Wednesdays. I envied them.  One time I was spending the weekend at the nice house of a nice pale haired girl and her husband. There was a Sunday lunch (a good mix of married-well girls, corduroyed husbands and lonely hearts like me). It was a cheerful meal. Afterwards I followed the pale haired girl into the larder to help with the cheese – cheese that had been brought back from France for just such a jolly occasion as this. In the gloom of the larder the pale haired girl began to cry. All the time she was crying she held the cheese in front of her at waist level, on a cheese board. It shook a bit, but it didn’t fall. The shaky cheese, the larder setting and my prejudicial envy of all well-married, pale haired girls made me awkward. I didn’t know what to say. So I just said, ‘Would you like me to stay here in the larder with you?’ She nodded; big, shivery nods.
‘Sweetie, everyone else is walking around pretending to be a successful adult too.’ ~ Your Aunt Lola
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I Am Woman ~ Easy Does It

Sometimes you’d have one of those days when life held no promise and your hair just Would Not Grow and your total calorific intake was drawn from coffee and toothpaste. And then Something Else Would Go Wrong and you’d let fly at the person who had failed you. Later you’d have to grovel to that person when it turned out that they had not actually lost your dry-cleaning after all, because there it was in your wardrobe.

‘Sweetie, never combine a high horse with low blood sugar.’ ~ Your Aunt Lola
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I Am Woman ~ Not waving. Drowning.

My friends and I bought our first little apartments. We decided that we were over Clothes now, because we were mad on bread boards and matching table linens instead. We surrounded ourselves with decorating magazines, memorized color charts and bought things because the packaging would look nice in our new bathrooms. We could visualize a spiral staircase in that corner where the coat cupboard was. We had no idea what our mortgage terms were.

‘Sweetie, you’re a grown up now, you have to learn to deal with banks, tax, mechanics and accountants. And the spectacular successes of people you loathed at school.’ ~ Your Aunt Lola
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I Am Woman ~ Bearing Up

Years ago I took a job cleaning for a woman I called the lonely Finn. She was lovely, the lonely Finn. Her house was lovely. And it was never less than immaculate when I arrived. The second time I went there she made me coffee and served it in pretty china with home-made cake. She asked me if I missed my family too – we were both far from home. After that she’d make the coffee before I got my duster out and, if I offered to give anything a perfunctory once-over, she’d say, No, don’t bother. She always paid me and smiled when I left. If I had known then what I know now, I’d have put my hand on her arm and waited for the tears.
‘Sweetie, cheerful people need their hands held too.’ ~Your Aunt Lola
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I Am Woman ~ Watch Out Below

For a while I was a vaguely-titled, poorly paid, lowly person on the fringes of the fashion world. The problem with being employed (no matter how lowlily) in any part of the fashion world is that it necessitates dressing in a way that is not very compatible with the poorly paid part. I invested a great deal of credit card interest in clothing that was not only at severe risk in a strong breeze, but also fairly impractical in most circumstances outside the fashion world. I looked better and better, but I was getting poorer and poorer. And, in the evenings, wearing pink suede mules to negotiate dimly-lit, public transport stairwells was not so much impractical as life-threatening.
‘Sweetie, plan for the limo. Prepare for the bus.’ ~ Your Aunt Lola
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I Am Woman ~ Joy, Sorrow & Hard Evidence

I have been known to get confused about the difference between having a Project and having a Purpose. Which is why the necessity to buy magenta nail varnish and a wide belt, cook polenta, keep a journal, flush my toxins and do over my sitting room in white on white has occasionally side-tracked me from a creating a future that is a bit more secure than soup in a bag.
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