The M[abel] Dodges of the world take everything they want, surround themselves with objects, people, and movements (analysis, thinking with the stomach or glands, Lawrence, Jeffers and the like). . . . These women do not weep, or harden up in order to endure, or accuse endlessly, or become frightened. They want what they want from youth on. They take color only from what they have or where they live, or from the kind of fashionable idea that is current at some particular time or other. They work hard; they have no real sympathies (only “interests”); they early become unalterably set as themselves, so that other people have to attach themselves to them, like limpets, or revolve around them, like satellites — no real communion possible. When they are rich they have permanent secretaries. . . .
The lechery of men of middle age is as hard as a stone. They kiss as though they threw their faces against one; they do not wait and draw in passion as young men do; they strike out at a woman in a kind of frenzy, give embraces in a cold scuffle. They are afraid of being pitiful themselves, so they cannot give out that pity which a woman waits for in any embrace. They make love usually when they are drunk. They speak of golf, their sons and daughters, sometimes of their wives, in the intervals of throwing against a woman that hard face, those cold eyes, those hands tightened up like fists, that dreadful cold, half-open mouth with its licking tongue. . . .
“My time will come,” you say to yourself, but how can you know whether or not your time has not already come and gone? Perhaps one afternoon on the veranda in Panama, with the Barbadians whetting their sickles on the hill below, the Chinese garden green, the noise of breakers from beyond the hill, the crochet in your lap, and the cool room shuttered and the sheeted bed, perhaps that was your time. (But it was too early.) Or mornings in the sunny room in Boston, when the children cried loudly from the public school across the way, “A prairie is a grassy plain,” and you sat on the low couch with your books and papers about you, happy and salfe and calm: perhaps your time was then. (But you didn’t see it at all.) Perhaps it has been spent, all spent, squandered out, in taking of streetcars, drinking gin, smoking cigarettes, — in connubial love, in thousands of books devoured by the eye, in eating, sewing, in suspicions, tears, jealousy, hatred, and fear. Perhaps it is now, on a dark day in October, in the bedroom where you sit with emptiness in your body and heart; beside the small fire, drying your hair, — older, more tired, desperately silent, unhappily alone, with faith and daydreams (perhaps luckily) broken and disappearng with the dreadful pain in your shoulder which presages dissolution, infection, and age. Perhaps this very instant is your time — pretty late — but still your own, your peculiar, your promised and presaged moment, out of all moments forever.