Womyn's Land


November 2013, Northern California. I tagged along with a new friend and her girlfriend on a three-hour drive north, to a small rural lesbian community that has been in existence since the '70s. It was deeply quiet there — one of those places where I notice how noisy my ordinary life is because all of a sudden that noise is just gone.

The pond was too cold even for just my feet, but if I'd wanted to go swimming, I could have. No swimsuit, but I could have just taken off my clothes and jumped in. Maybe come summer. Doors remain unlocked, and you can fall asleep alone in the grass without worrying about your safety or possessions.

My friend had to point that out to me when I said I was sleepy; it didn't occur to me. I was reminded of what Sylvia Plath, nineteen years old, wrote in her diary about the "awful tragedy...[of being born a woman]":
...all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery....I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night...
That awareness of the constant potential for danger that comes with being a woman in a violent patriarchal world, that is a kind of psychic noise too. And again, it's easy not to notice how it wears on you until you feel what an afternoon is like without that. And that quiet is almost bewildering...

I am carrying that afternoon with me. That taste of freedom, and the conviction that by rights I should have that freedom anywhere.

I am trying to imagine who I would be if my safety and privacy were always so inviolate.


Sarah Louise 1/30/2014 4:52 AM  

now I'm sort of regretting cancelling on the Women's retreat this weekend...but no, there would be no sleeping in the grass in Western Pa in the winter. This sounds WONDERFUL. I love the last line: I wonder, too, who I would be if my safety and privacy were inviolate. I love that word, inviolate.

Maddee 1/30/2014 6:46 AM  

This. This is so true. Being female in this world is exhausting. The silence and peace sounds lovely :)

Shawn Elyse 2/01/2014 1:35 PM  

That sounds absolutely amazing. ::sigh::

Holly 2/02/2014 10:21 PM  

Sarah Louise - I thought it might sound like a sad thing to wonder -- and it is kind of, but more invigorating...thank you for getting it.

Maddee - I hope you are able to experience your own bits and pieces of that What-Should-Be.

Shawn Elyse - One of the most restful days all year. Hoping to return in spring or summer...

Elizabeth 2/08/2014 1:59 AM  

I live for that picture of those leaves in the pond.

Holly 2/11/2014 2:06 PM  

Elizabeth -- Mmm, thank you for that!

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