Do you remember Titanic? I think my favorite scene is toward the end when Rose is looking up at the Statue of Liberty and the man comes and asks her for her name. She just stares at him for a moment. It’s just a breath before she answers with her name. I was thinking the other day about what might have been going through her mind.
I’ve never been one to look at New Year’s Eve as a time when new beginnings are happening. I will go to the same job tomorrow as I did yesterday, surrounded by the same people and live in the same house. While there are possibilities for the new year that weren’t realized in the last one, I’ve never considered it more applicable to celebrate on that day than any other day when something new didn’t actually happen. But I like a party, I’ll celebrate. I just don’t really know what we’re celebrating.
I imagine that Rose looked at that man, knowing she was no longer afraid of poverty and no longer straining under the former obligations that had been her life, and realized that she had an opportunity for an entirely new life. She was on the precipice of something truly new. Life would never be the same and that was a comforting thought for a change. Part of my monthly reading had been some women whose lives were forever changed be unfortunate circumstances that were put on them just as Rose’s circumstances where put upon her. Deborah Feldman was good with getting married and the changes that came with it but didn’t forsee the hurdles that would ruin her marriage. Malala Yousafzai didn’t have to fight for her education until people tried to take it from her. In Feldman’s case, she could at least enjoy that moment on the precipice. She recognized it and let the anticipation come, even though that didn’t work out quite as she thought it would either. Yousafzai didn’t even hear the gunman ask for her. Have you had a moment on the precipice lately?
This whole train of thought came to me as I read A Room of One’s Own. I had reached a passage that contemplated the safety and prosperity that some men got to live in while all women lived in insecurity and some also lived in poverty that they could not control for themselves. When security can only come from someone else, how could it really be secure? It made me think of Rose and her choice to not have security because then she could make all her other choices for herself too. She stood there on the precipice and didn’t shy away. She just took that leap.
I will come upon another cliff to jump off of, another precipice to stand at. I have had moments when life has changed already, of course. Some cliffs stand taller than others. Some we will stand on alone and some we will be holding hands with someone or many people. My favorite moments come right before the jump, in that breath just before Rose responds.
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