Recovering from the punch of the first passage, I eased into Marguerite Duras’s The Lover ready to feel the impact of every word.  Though I was initially disoriented by the sporadic storytelling, I found myself relaxing into the flow of the nameless girl’s tale.

Select passages brought up memories of my own past private thoughts and feelings.  I too treasured the image of my fifteen-year-old face.  I shamelessly glorified it many times in countless MySpace pictures.  I was around the age of eighteen when I looked in the mirror and first noticed that some youth had gone away.  I am not completely old and ravaged yet, but I dread the day when I will be.  It’s a secret fear that I think all women share. 

I also understood the sentimentality the girl felt concerning her lame shoes and man’s hat.  I used to pick out articles of clothing that would later become like a second skin. There was something about that old army jacket or that frumpy men’s cardigan that felt so “me.”  Sometimes clothes would shape my self-concept rather than just reflect it.

She made me remember the men, too.  There were always men who would stare for longer than wanted, who I’d just have to hold my chin up and walk by with eyes set straight ahead.  I would not give them eye contact, but they took away from me all that they could from looking. “I’m used to people looking at me,” the girl says.  Reading this I wondered if she felt the same repulsion I as a fifteen-year-old girl felt towards the classless men who would stare unashamedly, thinking only God knows what.

Duras’s nameless girl has a name at times.  It’s mine.


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