(The painting that inspired the cover of the movie is by Edward Greene Malbone and has three women who represent the past, present and future.)
I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer… What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Tonight I revisited The Hours. What a brilliant, brilliant movie. I always thought that Corrina, Corrina was my favorite move and although it still holds a very special place in my heart, it is time for it to move over for The Hours. I know that this movie only tells one part of a much larger story so as I talk about it here, I do so recognizing and noting that this may not be the most cohesive reflection, but I wanted to write it right after watching the film.
To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face. And to know it for what it is. At last to know it is. To love it for what it is.
The voice that Virgina Woolf had is one that has spoken to women for over three quarters of a century. The 19th century female authors are some of my greatest heroes. Virginia Woolf, Kate Chopin, Emily Dickenson, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlotte Gilman Perkins and so many more… these were the women that gave me my feminist education. They were revolutionaries simply for stating the basic truth of so many women’s lives. For putting into words, the debilitating depression that comes from a life restricted and bound. They challenged what was “natural” for a woman. They demanded a new space, a new language.
It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean to regret, what does it mean to regret when you have no choice. Its what you can bear. There it is. No one is going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.
Today while we were driving in the car, I mentioned to Hena that I might have liked to have been a trophy wife in another life. She seemed surprised and asked, “And you were a women’s studies major?” But that is it, I told her. Women’s liberation is about women’s freedom to choose for themselves. To define on their own what life it is that makes them happy. If we can free ourselves of the bonds of gender and socialization, we might discover a peace that so many in the world find so elusive. Feminism is not radical at all. It is an idea that every person would ascribe to if they sat down alone with themselves and asked one simple question. Do I want the freedom to just be myself? To be seen as a human being, as an individual without someone else’s interpretation and limitation imposed on me? To simply be ourselves, men and women, independent of someone else’s construction, that is some sort of freedom. That is the only kind of freedom.
I would tell you that I wrestle alone in the dark, in the deep dark, and that only I can know. Only I can understand my condition. You live with the threat, you tell me you live with the threat of my extinction. I live with it too.
This movie had so many lines that are more embedded in my brain than I ever realized. Watching it is like reading The Awakening for me. It is such a powerful reminder of the frailty and consistency of life. In the lives of these women, I can’t help but see the life of every woman, of every person. It is a story of longing for something more than this world. It is the struggle of trying to stay true to yourself while the whole world asks only that you be just like everybody else. It is reconciling living for yourself or living for the ones you love. Where does that line end and begin? When can we make a choice or take a step without seeing our parents, our families, and all the people we love? Should we ever?
Always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.