girl, you’ll be a woman

The wind was in my favor last night. Walking up Second Avenue, the breeze caught my skirt just enough to produce the Donna Reid effect – a perfect halo of pale pink cotton and silk as my heels clicked uptown toward home.

Girl, I think as I consider maybe doing a pirouette under the street light.

At dinner, though, it was different. The gazpacho was served and as I slid my spoon in backwards to take a bite, a pair of eyes lit up across the table.

“You just… did you see how she eats her soup?” Chris turned to Mike. He was beaming at me, one hand to his chest, almost in reverence. And I knew, right then, that was how he thinks Julie Andrews eats her soup. “It’s just so… refined!”

Woman, I think as I consider maybe sending my mother a thank-you for years of etiquette dinners.

When a friend asked me the other day whether I was a girl or a woman, I questioned first his reason for asking and second, my reason for answering, both. Some days, to be honest, I just don’t know.

When I’m at work, I’d tell you woman, for sure. There’s no room for girl at that conference room table on Monday mornings. Likewise, when I’m paying bills, I am woman.

I am girl when it’s late, and I am lonely and the only person I want to talk to is my mother and the only place I want to be is home, even though neither exists the way I remember them anymore. And I am girl when I smile and say nothing even though my brain is screaming. I am girl about texture and color and touch.

I am woman about how I budget, who I love and what I decide to keep. I am woman when I ask hard questions and refuse to accept easy answers.

Girl when I cry. Woman when I kiss. Both when I laugh.

It’s one of the more difficult things about growing up – fitting into one or the other, and I actually get nervous about one day defining myself completely as woman. Will there be no more pirouettes and pink? More responsibility and resolution?

I don’t know. For right now though, I’m wont to think that both is a good fit, and that maybe, just maybe there was something insightful about that Britney Spears song.

I kid about the song. Mostly.

42 comments to girl, you’ll be a woman

  • Di

    Do you really write these things at 5.38am?

  • .. And how do you slide your spoon in backwards when you eat soup? :)

  • The reference to the Britney Spears song was an unexpected twist in your tale. I was humming along to the ‘Urge Overkill’ version, picturing you as Uma Thurman in ‘Pulp Fiction’ but with a pink skirt like the one I bought when I was in New York last year… and then you had to throw in Britney. Totally killed the moment.

    Other than that, this was a great post, I really enjoyed reading it. Now if I can just get Britney out of my head…

  • i think that a bit of girl will always linger inside of us, regardless of how much growing up we are forced to do.

    twirl on.

  • Over the past few weeks, I’ve read all of your archived posts and have been checking back regularly. This latest one is among my faves. You have a real talent for capturing/conveying stuff that many of us think about in a way that is really engaging and that allows your reader to see herself too, even when you write more specifically about your own experiences.

    I don’t know if you have been writing a novel or not, but I often wonder whether you would create something that falls into the chick-lit category or something more literary- I think you have the capacity to do either, and I would read it no matter what genre it would be categorized as.

    In terms of the Britney Spears reference, I am not a fan of Brit’s, but I appreciated the reference as another example of your honesty in writing, even if you were only half serious. One can be intellectual, intelligent, introspective, evolved and still dapple in and sometimes even relate to the fluff that others are dismissive of. No fear of judgement… a great quality of This Fish.

  • You can always work to keep the girl inside. That’s probably the fun part! I know I will. :)

  • I’ve been feeling much the same lately. You just captured all my mixed emotions about graduating from girlhood and becoming a woman. On certain days, that’s all I want. But then there’s those moments when I can think of nothing else but cuddling up in my childhood bed, with my mom sitting on the side rubbing my back, telling me everything will be okay.

    Thanks for sharing this…really hit home.

  • Oh, damn…I must be hormonal because that post made me want to cry. I’ll admit: I sniffled…good thing I just bought a sh’load of Kleenex brand tissues at CostCo.

    Very good post, and if you feel like reading a couple of my most recent posts, you’ll see that even this 43-year-old is very much a girl too much of the time. I think maybe a real woman has to be a girl some of the time…:)

  • PeppermintPatty

    I agree completely with PlumLeigh. Yesterday was my (honest) 39th birthday.

    Girl: Every one (literally) of my friends were out of town, I have no family where I live, why don’t they have a recorded phone service for people like me to call and hear a whole crowd of people singing Happy Birthday?

    Woman: Thank God, a day all to myself, the answering machine is on and the ringer’s off. I’m locking the door and sleeping in.

    Bravo to you. And please, make an announcement when the book comes out, won’t you?

  • Beautiful post, Fish. Structurally tight, in addition to being lyrical. Bravo! You are a joy to read, as always.

  • WOW!!! I am honestly in tears right now. That was beautiful, and I know exactly from where you’re coming. I like to think that I’ll manage to be both right up until I take my last breath. Entries like this make me glad that I stumbled upon your little part of the internet, and very thankful that you’re kind enough to impart such wonderful works upon the rest of us poor souls.

  • Sometimes my girl/woman tendencies make me feel like Sybil, honestly. But it’s so hard to be just one… the world would not be as beautiful if we couldn’t look at it through a girl’s eyes. I say keep her. Even if it means confusing others and backing yourself into a downward spiral of reflection on occasion.

    The duality of this lifestyle is very marketable. Is she a girl or is she a woman? It keeps the world wondering. And Britney Spears’ career platinum.

    I’ve bookmarked your page. :)

  • Brittney

    Thank you so much for bringing this up. I have been approached with the question and I never have found a good way to answer. Of course, you found a good way to answer.

  • rg

    today I was both. after spending all day with my mom at the museum, then dinner with most of my family feeling very secure and girlish, I hurried by the office to catch up on some work. I felt a little sad that my girlish bubble of a day had to burst so I could attend to my grown-up responsibilities. great post. thanks.

  • Very aptly and eloquently put.

    When I think about where I stand on this whole girl/woman thing, I just keep coming back to Julia Robert’s words:

    “I’m too tall to be a girl, I never had enough dresses to be a lady, I wouldn’t call myself a woman. I’d say I’m somewhere between a chick and a broad.”


  • Do I have to choose? I sort of like being both (unless this means I will get compared to Brintey in which case i will make up my mind right now)

  • I loved this post.

    I have 3 children. One day, my youngest asked if I was grown up yet. As I was pondering the answer to his question, my middle son answered for me. He said ” She is grown up when we need her to be , and a kid when we want to have fun and for her to play with us. But she is a grown up when we are scared and stuff”. His answer made me cry. I love my boys. :)

    I am so glad I found a link to your blog. It has fast became one of my favorites.

  • I had the Britney song in mind throughout the post.

    Great one, by the way. :)

  • Somewhere my comment got lost….

    I believe the true woman nevers leaves the girl in her behind–another reason I truly admire my mother. So remember that at 80 or even at 100, you will always be mostly woman, part girl. And every bit as lovely through and through.

  • Deb

    Hi love the last post. Question did you say when you got back that you had a change or surprize? Did i miss it? sometimes i am a little slow lol

  • I’m glad you wrote about this. I think it is lovely to embrace both feminine qualities. I love the playfulness and innocence of being a girl and the sensual, strong, determination of being a woman. I embrace the dichotomy in my man as well. If he was boyish all the time I would find him immature and if he was “manly” all of the time I would find him stiff or dull. Nice post!

  • One of the things I am most happy about is that I have been able to become a man without losing the boy. For all those women who want a man without some boy in him is truly missing out. The boy loves to play in the snow, I like gadgets, and watching big construction vehicles, and still play with my legos when I get the chance. I keep a bottle of bubbles on my desk for those moments when I need to escape into the simple pleasure. Please, please, please be both. Children are precious, inquisitive, innocent. And I think that we all could benefit from retaining those qualities.

  • You’ve been tagged. Hit me baby, one more time.

  • Your post reminded me of Julia Roberts quote that I read many, many years ago and have always remembered.

    “I’m too tall to be a girl, I never had enough dresses to be a lady, I wouldn’t call myself a woman. I’d say I’m somewhere between a chick and a broad.”

    I’ve always agreed…and identified.

  • See, here’s the thing. The other day my friend asked me the same question, “Are you a girl or a woman?” I was like, “Dude. I’m a dude.” I mean, what the hell?

    That’s beside the point.

    Here’s the actual thing: You write well. You hear that all the time, I’m sure, so I’m never going to tell you that again. Instead, I’ll talk about something else.

    Here’s the other thing: Hello. Nice to meet you.

  • I guess I’m showing my age here. I was thinking the Neil Diamond version all the way. By the way, did you know his real name is Noah Kaminski?

  • Maybe I’m weird, or maybe I’m not old enough to ponder the girl/woman thing. But I’ve never really wondered if my actions reflected the girl/woman in me. For all my life, I’ve always been me. The confusion of growing up and being young at the same time never really struck me, and I’ve never wondered whether or not I’m acting my age.

    Though, when I do hit that time in my life when I start to ponder about womanhood and girlhood (is that even a word?), I’ll remember that being both is a good option too :)

  • Exactly how I’ve been feeling lately…

  • Kt

    This may be one of my favorite essays of all time.

    We are all inherently contradictory, but as you’ve noted, girl need not be the opposite of woman. Everyone needs a little “pink.”

  • Beautiful writing. Moving.

    I hope all is safe at your place after the broken skylight.

  • Love your style. Check out our webzine. Care to write for us?

  • good post until britney – showed your true colors

  • Bahar

    I love the way you write. I enjoy the way you express your thoughts. I think you should difinitely write a novel.even ” farsi” speakers like me will enjoy it!

    Good luck!

    By the way, as you get older, you will be more and more surprised how that little girl has never grown up!

  • Chaoticbliss

    Thanks to this post, I now have that song stuck in my head, and uma thurman mouthing it..which isn’t a problem in my book.

  • I have been woman since I was maybe 16 or 17. My cousin says I went from 13 to 30. But I love it. To me, being woman doesn’t mean I’m no longer a girl, it means I’m more than *just* a girl. :)

  • Leigha

    I REALLY needed to hear this. Thank so much, I’d say it brought out the woman in me. I knew i had both, but now I finally know that it’s alright and that all females have this certain sense of self.For me it seems the older I get the more aware I am of the girl inside me.

    Strangely enough, I work 10 hours a day with nothing but men! No women. The oldest men see me as a girl, the younger guys see me as a strong woman.

    Girl: I have been on my own with no family for a year now. I do not have a car and struggle to run errands. I love hockey and I’m still afraid to get my heart broken. One for to the woman that gets me through the hard times

    Woman: I work in the trades and I am a welder! (Ironic isn’t it?) I admire the strength of my co-workers and their solitude. I respect the way I’m treated and do not take it for granted! I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty to see a job well done. I’m around men all day, for now I can live with not having one at home lol! One for the girl who continues to discover the world!

  • susan

    I think, personally, that you have to have a little bit of both girl and woman in you…How can you be a woman without having at least some girl in you? If you’re all woman, you can’t have much fun, becuase your life is too stressful, and you have lots to worry about. And if you’re all girl, what would get done? Nothing. Cause you’d be giggling and twirling all day.

    You gotta have both!

  • Dan

    Old post but still good

  • i know i would hate it if i had to be ALL woman… i’d go insane if i couldn’t be girl for at least a moment every day.

  • I thought that this other blogger’s post was familiar when I read it…I read at yours first!

  • Kim

    My favorite, of all time! I read this when I was dating my husband and it touched me. It gave me the reassurance to be both. Now we have a 3 year old daughter, and I must admit, during these last 4 years I had forgotten a bit how to be a girl and was all woman all the time.
    Thank you for bringing this one back and nudging me in the right direction. I see a fun game of dress up in my future.

  • Klarissa

    I have to admit, after many more years of being the woman that I want to recount, I’ve forgotten the girl I was. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that sometimes that girl needs to come out.

    Just in time to remind my girls at home to enjoy this phase, and not be in a rush to become women.