The Special Happiness of Girls

We’re young. We’re walking across campus, bundled up and bumping into each other. We’re smoking cigarettes and hoping they’ll make us cool in the way our elementary school teachers promised. We have long hair, because it’s beautiful, curly long hair and wavy and straight long hair and blonde long hair and brown and black, and some of us have short hair just to show that we don’t have to have long hair. We don’t think about being mothers yet, or if we do, we think about wearing white dresses and lying in fields with funny chubby babies with little soft curls, and we think about strong, veined arms that can lift babies with one hand. We don’t realize that we will cut off our hair when we become mothers. Worse, we cannot imagine that we will not mind. We have so many ideas. We have ideas that are the opposite of our parents’, and ideas that we learned in class this morning, and ideas that we are pretending are not actually our boyfriends’. We have a few ideas that we suspect no one has ever had before, and we write them down and don’t tell anyone about them. We have songs in our heads, and plans, but we don’t need to carry pictures in our heads, because that’s what our generation doesn’t have to do, we don’t have to put them in our wallets either, because we have phones so we have pictures of our friends and our dogs and our little sisters and our ideal apartments at all times sitting just outside of consciousness, ready to be summoned and isn’t it annoying how some guys just have the worst profile pictures, like he’s, like, actually really cute you just can’t tell from any of these pictures. We’re trying to figure out whose party we’re going to Friday night. We know certain things, like what you’re supposed to eat and how often you’re supposed to go to the gym and what you can and can’t say about your friends, and how many people you’re allowed to have sex with, but they are not rules because we are too free for rules. Sometimes we will tell someone our ideas, and if they understand they will be special to us forever. Sometimes we will put up our hand in class, and if we are right we will be so proud, try to hide the smile. And if someone tells you your outfit is good, tell them where you bought it, oh this isn’t mine, it’s my roommate’s, oh I got this at a thrift store, aren’t they your favourite me too. Our moms and our teachers tell us we’re smart and we know our dads think so too, and our boyfriends say they think we are, but I mean he’s a bit dumb, what did he know really, do you remember what he said about Faulkner, and my god, his profile pictures. We have rosy cheeks and new shoes. We are feminists but we don’t have to be. We’re alive, we’re alive, we can’t imagine being more alive than this. Sometimes we cry because it is just too much, we are just so happy, how could we possibly be sad. When all this is ours, when we are so young and we still have long hair and we are each pretty in our own special way and all our fingernails are painted and we have a million pictures of all of our friends always and we hand in papers and get them back and they say we are eighty-eight percent. Eighty-eight percent! And oh, our problems are trivial. How joyful we are. How happy.

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