more babitz

by rantywoman

Finishing up Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz and wanted to post two last poignant passages.

p. 74

Driving home, with my back against the giant orange bat of a sunset, east on Olympic Blvd. in the rush hour, I decided enough was enough, I would be satisfied with just the sunsets in Los Angeles and forget finding the someone I didn’t mind.

 I had a collection of lovers to keep me warm and my friendships with women, who always fascinated me by their wit, bravery, and resourcefulness, and who never told you the same story twice. Now, women I didn’t mind.  I mean, you can go places with a woman and come back just fine (or as my agent, Erica, plowed right in and said:  “You know that when you have dinner with a girlfriend, you’re going to come home a whole human being”).  I had a third collection of associates who were men but not lovers.  “Just friends,” they’re called.  An American distinction if ever there was one.  Only we would say “just” about a friend.  My “just friends” were more reliable than most of my “just lovers,” since “just lovers” were always capable of saying, “Gee, you’re puttin’ on weight,” or “Are those the shoes you’re wearing?”

For over a year William was my closest “just friend”… since my decision on Olympic Blvd. to give up on finding someone I didn’t mind, I’d become much more resigned to lackluster events, or going with a “just friend.” Before, I’d always go everywhere alone.  Being there with someone makes you hounded by details, like what time the other person wants to leave; details that drain energy when you are trying to discover the core of an event. Being there with William put a damper on glorious possibilities.  But I’d given up on those, which was why, I suppose, I went so many places with William.

p. 170-171

But it wasn’t just the money.  I knew it couldn’t be just the money.  It was that she was afraid of getting old without living out a girlhood fantasy of one day marrying and having children and a house and a business-husband.  She had always been conventional, that was what was so great about her.  She was almost thirty.  I had thought about it myself; getting married and calling it a day, but then, after San Francisco, I knew those songs of love were not for me.  There was very little precedent for not getting married, I’ll admit, and the women I knew who weren’t were all going to analysts and wondering what was the matter with themselves.  But if Mary wanted to get married, then I would have to think seriously about it because Mary always knew when to do things and how.  So now, suddenly, she wasn’t doing clothes anymore and she was closing up her petals.  I felt cold in the Arrow Market parking lot, looking at Mary’s plain face and ordinary hair and sensible clothes.  Did it mean that we were going to have to be gloomy now that we were about to be thirty? 

…so there I was, putting my groceries in the back of the car, waving good-bye to Mary.  Alone in the twilight outside the Arrow Market, all at once not knowing, at the age of twenty-nine, what any of the main givens were:  love, money, or beauty.  To say nothing of truth, of course.