It’s a special week to be a Laura, as we might be getting our hurricane this week. As of this writing, it is still just Tropical Storm Laura, but with a Laura, you never know. And thus, it was a good week to read Laura Lippman’s recent book of personal essays, My Life as a Villainess. Damn, that’s a great name for a collection.
I loved this book. Funny, honest, relatable. Here are the bits that most made me want to attend a yoga class with this other Laura.
Lippman writes, on being an older mother,
And maybe the next time—there’s always a next time, trust me—someone says, “Are you her grandmother?” I’ll say: “No I’m her great-grandmother, I’m eighty-fucking-seven, but I look amazing for my age.”
This is clearly a woman making great progress on her list of “what I should have said.” Good for her.
Absent…betrayal or falling-out, most friendships don’t end…definitively. These no-ending endings can be hard to process. Our culture long ago made peace with the fragility of matrimony, but we still have high expectations for friendships. If you really care about someone, you should be able to pick up where you left off, no matter how long it’s been.
I don’t feel put out by a high expectation of pick-up-where-you-left-off. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. The last two decades have brought many a beautiful friendship revival my way. We picked up where we left off, which was mostly in the 1980s.
Like this other Laura, I share a concern about no-ending endings, but my concern is different. I hate the idea that I’ve spoken my last words to someone. When I read Words in Air, the collected correspondence of poet friends Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, I dreaded the inevitable outcome that one of them would post a letter that would arrive too late.
Which no-ending endings in my life have already happened? That is hard to process. Sigh.
Finally, this wake-up call:
Envying other writers, crying over a review—if this is what the bad fairy brings to your christening, consider yourself lucky. Don’t you understand that you are going to know real pain?
Worse, you are going to cause it.
Gasp. It’s true, and I needed the reminder.
Thank you, this other Laura, for your humor, your sentimentality, and your tough love. Stay dry.