This afternoon I finished the book My Dark Vanessa. It left me….thoughtful.
A few similarities between her and me. Vague, but there.
I read Lolita young. 12. Maybe 13. Far too young to understand the depth of the story. I saw a love story. A man who loved a unfortunately young girl, the world against them.
I had no idea at that age the implications of the words I was reading.
A few years later, I’m a C-cup at 14. Still extremely naive…but, the way I was treated was changing and quickly. The attention, the older men , some 30, 40 years older, catering to me, almost fawning. It made a shy girl, even more reserved, uncomfortable with the growing breasts and hips.
I remember my grandma’s 80 year old boyfriend cornering me in her kitchen, groping me when I was 17, painfully squeezing, twisting my breasts until they bruised. I told no one. I was scared even then, I wouldn’t be believed. My face allowed me to pass for far younger my whole life, combined with a women’s figure at far too young an age to get the effect I was causing around me.
By the time I was in my early 20’s I noticed a pattern in my dating habits. The men I found attractive were not my age. All were younger. Even now. My girl’s dad 9 years younger. My current boyfriend 30 to my 50. I don’t trust men of a certain age. I haven’t since I was a teenager. It reminds too much of the leers, the comments, the helplessness of being barely older than a child, but treated as full grown women.
When I finished the book today, all these images flickered through my head.
Why did both those books resonate with me so deeply?
Because I could have been either of those girls. Lolita or Vanessa. And, maybe, I was. And it still lingers with me when I use the gifts I was blessed with. The blue eyes, the soft voice, the perpetually innocent giggle.
What does that make me? The aging nymphet, damaged by the men of my past, continuing to clutch at the last vestiges of beauty and coquettishness she has remaining.