Friday, June 09, 2006


So, yesterday I had a book club meeting. This is not the club with the little old ladies that requires leg shaving and pearls. This is a group of slightly younger women who take bitterness and inability to see the bright side to new levels. An important side note: There are 2 main categories of people in our little town, particuarly among people who have moved here. The first group has fallen in love with the town, the area, and the people. They could never imagine why anyone would want to live elsewhere and would have the town's cute little babies, if only they could. The second group finds the area to be a backwoods purgatory. My husband and I fall within the miniscule 3rd category. We have no wish to make this our forever home but, have a very concrete understanding that there are, in fact, far worse places to live. We can list features of the town that aren't bad and can be appreciated as well as also note the myriad of things that we won't particuarly miss. The little old ladies are firmly in the first camp, the Newcomer's Book Club is firmly in the second camp. I always walk away from meetings of either camp feeling somewhat frustrated but my opportunities for socialization are rather limited and I do get some enjoyment and, most importantly, I can't figure out how to quit either group.

At any rate, we were discussing "Florence of Arabia." It's a fabulous book, full of dark humor that looks at a fictional attempt to bring women's liberation to a fundamentalist Muslim country. I had read the book once before but was anxious to re-read it after spending 2 months in Egypt this fall. The discussion covered many topics but there was one statement that really stood out to me. I told the other women that, in Egypt, children were generally assumed to be closely following marriage. While contraception certainly was known about and, I was told, was not forbidden on religious grounds, it was not at all uncommon to have a baby 9 months after the wedding. The people we met in Egypt often had difficulty with the concept that my husband and I could have been married for 5 years and not had a child. While it was never explicitly stated, I definitely got the impression that most people assumed that we had some sort of fertility problem. When I noted this to the book club, one of the women said "Oh, people in the US were thinking that too, they just didn't say it." I told her that I disagreed. While there was a group of people who were surprised we waited to have children, that was mainly the group that knew I had wanted to have children right away. For various reasons we didn't and they were, understandably, confused. The rest of the world didn't seem to have much of an opinion one way or the other. We got married young, on my 23rd birthday. My husband was in graduate school. The idea that we would want to wait for him to finish and get settled in a new town didn't seem odd to anyone. I'm sure that as I approached 30 (I'm currently 28) I would have been asked more frequently but, it seems like in today's society, while I am not considered a particuarly young mother, I'm not considered to be pushing the envelope either. It seems like, in the US, there is much less emphasis on how long you've been married and much more on how old you are.

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