Long, long ago Ms. Magazine published a fairy tale I wrote called "The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet." It was a sort of map, the way myths are, of how to grow and find our way in the adult world, and has become known as a classic feminist fairy tale. I am humbled to see tonight that it gets more hits on Google than I do. I know it is published (sometimes pirated) and studied around the world. I love to think of it being read in South Africa and China by young women who really need a new myth to help them stand up to their cultures' demands. I love that a woman in the Netherlands wrote her thesis about it. Having written this story relieves me, I hope, of the duty to accomplish anything else. I am about to turn 67. I'd like to be the Princess who finally retired.
Feet seem central to my story, which has taken another turn in age. All day today I kept thinking happily, "I am on my own two feet!" The Constant Reader knows I have struggled with bone problems since January. But last week I graduated from physical therapy, saw the caring young doctor for the last time, no followup needed.
I am in my new Nike's and orthotics, and can't remember when I had to take a Tylenol for pain. I can go places, I can take a mixed media art class at the rec center because I can drive there and walk through a big building without worrying about my ankles. I can cook dinner. I am getting back in condition from a pitiably sedentary state, up to 15 minutes on the Nustep now. Yesterday I loaded the van with the bags of recycle and cardboard boxes that piled up in the garage all winter, drove it to the plaza, unloaded everything in the small rain. Doing this felt like liberation. I was totally happy.
I have at times thought how much I needed to learn the story I wrote, how hard it's been time and again to know when to stand up for myself. Today it seems like I have gone beyond that struggle. But growing up is just prelude to more growing up. You don't get to relax for long before life presents a new challenge. I feel like I need a new and different story to express what I have been through this year, what we all go through if we live to an old age. The new story would feature a girl who maybe keeps falling, who gets very discouraged, but gets back up. It reminds me of the samurai saying, "Six times down, seven times up," which means to me that all you ever have to do is get up one more time.