News From Home
Cal wanted Kitty to move in with him. He said he would find a bigger and better apartment for them first.
“Ain’t that just like a man,” Alva said when Kitty told her. “Don’t seem to me like you ready for that just yet.”
“I know. I feel like he’s pushing me because he wants it, but he’s not thinking about me and what I want,” Kitty said.
It was something that had been bothering Kitty ever since Cal talked about them moving in together. A jumble of thoughts and emotions crowded together in her, confusing, disturbing, rattling her. At work she had become quiet and almost disengaged. She had not spent the night at Cal’s for the past week and had only joined him for dinner twice. Now in Alva’s kitchen, she felt safer, more able to think her own thoughts.
“Is that what happened to you when you got married?” she asked Alva.
“What? You mean that the man took over and I got to stand second to him?” Alva responded.
“Yes, I guess so. I mean, I never want to have what happened to me the first time happen again. I never want to feel like someone owns me, you know?” she said.
“Girl, you put your finger right smack on the nub of it. Hit that ole nail on the head, you did. Own you! That’s right. That’s what a man come to think when he get you over to his side of the fence. You got to put that right from the beginning. You got to tell him or else he’s liable to just steamroll right over you. You got to stand your ground and let him know how you feel and whatchyou want. That’s right. That’s exactly right. Not that I done that every time. It’s something you learn after while,” she said.
It wasn’t that Kitty felt Cal was trying to manipulate or control her. Yet there was something familiar in the way she felt, some vestige of the way she felt in her husband’s house for so many years. She tried to find the point when she began to feel like this but couldn’t identify a distinct moment. It was gradual, she thought. A kind of shifting like a sand dune. One day it was a certain shape and a week later it was not quite the same. It was a sense of loss of time. She was one thing one day, and then after she and Cal had sex she was another thing. She was no longer her own property but had merged into a joint property arrangement without really thinking it through. Yet it was nice being with Cal. Different, but nice. She felt wanted, even desired. She had begun to dress differently, wearing more stylish skirts, shorter than before, and boots that didn’t just deal with the cold, and she had gone to a hairdresser and had him restyle her hair. She began to wear a little makeup. And she had bought earrings and a necklace. She felt pretty all of sudden and she liked that, too. She found herself looking in the mirror – the full length mirror outside her room – and judging her body, admiring that her long legs looked good in boots and the shorter skirts, that her pale skin complemented her auburn hair. Was it wrong to feel this way, she wondered? Was it because of Cal’s attention? These were good feelings, but also vain. She worried that she might be punished in some way for such feelings. Maybe by accepting Cal and all the good ways she felt because of him would mean also feeling corralled like a horse that’s been given a lovely pasture and at the same time a bit with reins attached – reins that someone else pulls. Had she entered the convent, she would not have had to think such thoughts or worry about her own vanity or destiny.