I’m thrilled to be in the new year! Interesting things are on their way and I know it. Now in January 1936 she is eighteen years old, attending a college secretarial program, rarely mentions Drobey anymore but is still pining for W.B.Z. She is without a steady boyfriend and it’s shocking to me. Her children several times over the years have looked at me and told me that “she always had a lot of boys interested in her” but what does that mean? Sure, Jaime runs around after her but nothing is happening there. I think they have an interesting view of their mother. One I would assume as well. She’s beautiful inside and out and such a lovely catch. One day, maybe they will read these journals. Maybe then they will see her for the awkward lonely girl she was for many years and not either some cold vixen or the most popular one in the crowd. She certainly wasn’t either of those.
So, onto what happens in January 1936.
On New Year’s day, at night, she skates by the light of the moon and the stars sharing her skates with Zosh. It’s one of my favorite passages I’ve read so far. It seems to have the kind of magic that is hard to see at the time unless you are paying close attention, and then that magic shows it’s power…
By January 2nd she’s back to school and getting rides most mornings from Jaime. Poor Jaime. She begins to keep track of how many days he does show to give her rides after she turns him down for two events in a row one evening. One date he asked her on was to go to the senior play and she turns him down but still goes any way. Needless to say, he starts showing up less and less to give her a ride. I do wish, for his sake, he didn’t give her rides at all. Babu is allowed her flaws and she can be a little thick-headed. She writes:
Thursday, January 2nd, 1936
Jaime keeps giving us rides in the morning. I don’t like it, but I like saving the money. He has the idea I’m for him or in love with him, I think. But I’m not, in the least.
She thinks? Well, duh…She knows she’s using him and I wish she could admit that this was part of the problem between her and Jeanette.
Since I am here pointing out Babu’s flaws, I like to bring this up. This girl can be stunningly blind.
Saturday, January 4th, 1936
Johnny Krol, Zosh, and I went to the dance our Falcons gave. Had a good time. Had two numbers with Chico and he brought us home. I held him under the arm all the way. A boy I danced with asked me for a date, and another asked to come with him to the socials on Monday.
Here is what her children saw, how boys really did fawn over her, quite a bit actually.
Then there was the question of Bay Path’s prom. She may have been popular at the Falcon’s dance, but she didn’t get asked at all to this prom.
Friday, January 10th, 1936
Ernie got two invitations to the prom so far. One from a good dancer. He sits in our penmanship class and is one of the gayest therein. The other is Fred Gagne. And I thought he was glancing my way. Nevermore will I think anything of the sort unless no one is around and even then I may be doubtful. Went to the basketball game. BPI won 36-21 against New Haven Jr. College. Norma took me home. Another rotten time at the dance.
Considering what she said only six days earlier, never thinking a boy could actually be looking at her seems a bit far of a stretch. She also is showing a bit of her neurotic nature in this passage:
Monday, January 13th, 1936
Diary, how I want to go to our prom. All the girls (mostly all) are going. I don’t want to be left out. Why doesn’t some nice boy ask me? I could ask Jaime but I won’t. If Caveman could dance we could go.
It’s very clear here, if it hasn’t been clear way before this, that she sabotages something that could have been nice with Drobey. Since she does not deign to go with someone who can’t dance, seems like a small sacrifice to not be the girl who doesn’t have someone to go steady with, she ends up getting set up with on a blind date. She ends up having a lovely time with a boy named Maurice who was quite a gentleman.
It’s okay that I’m finding some Babu flaws as I read this. I’m as open as her Diaries are and I know I’m reading the words of a real, rounded person. So, she’s a little stuck up and insecure at the same time. These diaries need to reveal a lot more negative secrets than that to make me love her any less!
I never thought I’d basically be transcribing a frustrated romance novel with no romance, (thank goodness for the no romance, actually, she is my grandmother!) but this is important. Shifting through her lonely love life is a view into coming of age. Dealing with our insecurities, finding out what and who attracts us and making decisions is all about finding ourselves. It’s not that Babu is not finding people who are interested in her, and the other way around. There is a big difference between finding a one and finding the one. I’m not surprised that this is a major theme in her life at this moment. It certainly was in mine at this age. Whether someone else can love you and wants to be with you is sometimes a very inaccurate way to assess ourselves, but one measure we can’t help but consider. It’s human nature.
Amid all of this youthful angst, Babu notes in a passage about the King of England’s death.
Tuesday, January 28th, 1936
The king of England was buried today among pomp and splendor.
In the very next sentence she goes on to talk about her mark in her English class. Does all of this signify that there are three constants in life? Death, love, and report cards? It seems so.