A Spinster Tale

“Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

That was the last line from a book I recently finished, Spinster by Kate Bolick. For a while now, I’ve considered myself as a spinster or surely on her way to become one. Committed relationship intrigued and scared me at the same time. Solitude is the company that I appreciate the most. There’s a comfort in knowing that you can splurge and dedicate the rest of your life with whatever things that you are passionate about or so very want to master. Despite that nagging fear deep inside you, that somehow you’ll die alone and get eaten by your cats – there is also a charming vision of coming home, setting a table for one and cook whatever you want to eat, then dedicate yourself to read or write in silence. Yes, I’ve always thought that solitude is a good friend of mine. 

A close friend of mine recently said something that makes me think during one of his pensive, single malt-ed mood. He said: “Your days are numbered. Find your meaning, before dying.” And those words stick with me until now. I think it is considered lucky if one is able to reach 70, still healthy and lucid. That leaves this yours truly, more or less 40 years to find her meaning, grow up (or grow old) to find out what she wants to be in life and choosing the kind of people that she wants to be with. 

The idea of spinsterhood is an intriguing one. Here in Indonesia, the term that people use is horrendous: perawan tua or old virgin. To generally assume that an unmarried woman is also a virgin is just Neanderthal. I think being a spinster is ultimately a challenge for a society who likes to put people in boxes. Let me quote an enlightening paragraph from Spinster:

Every year I try to reread Doris Lessing’s slim 1987 polemic, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside. In the book, this “epicist of the female experience”, as the Swedish Academy put it when awarding her the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007, reminds us how difficult it is to detach ourselves from the mass emotions and social conditions of the age we’re born into; all of us, male and female, are “part of the great comforting illusions, and part illusions, which every society uses to keep up its confidence in itself.”

To challenge the conformity that everyone (especially women) must be married and have kids; well, that takes a lot of guts. Anyway, back to the book, I found that the book speaks to me very personally. Reading Bolick’s sentences seems to validate my unspoken thoughts. Closing the book, I feel less alone in being the weird woman who a ‘spinster wish’ as Bolick has charmingly put it. It is definitely not a manifesto of a single girl who is set against the matrimonial bond. Through five writers and their different set of lives that have inspired Bolick in her quest to define spinsterhood, I learned that there are all sort of way to live. 

I can be as pretty, witty and sophisticated as Maeve Brennan. I also can be as progressive as Neith Boyce, or as bold and fiery as Edna St. Vincent Millay. There is also the choice of being demure and productive as Edith Wharton, writing her series of New York’s elite and an interior design guide. I can be any woman that I want. I do have that option. I am so glad that I read this book when I started my 30s. I have no idea what kind of woman that I will become in the next decade or so, but I do know that I would like someone to have this impression of me (New Woman, as described by political writer Randolph Bourne in one of his letter):

“So thoroughly healthy and zestful ... They shock you constantly... They have an amazing combination of wisdom and youthfulness, of humor and ability, of innocence and self-reliance... They are of course all self-supporting and independent; and they enjoy the adventure of life; the full, reliant, audacious way in which they go about makes you wonder if the new woman isn’t to be a very splendid sort of person”

My plan for 2016 and the decades to come are simple: to have one wild and precious life. Being a spinster or not a spinster, it doesn’t even matter. I am going to make a rich life of my own. 

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Hello! I’m Eve Tedja

I have been a professional writer for four years.

During that time, I have worked as a permanent contributor for Let’s eat! Magazine, Hello Bali, epicure, and published my articles in several other magazines like Venture, Panorama, Bravacasa, and Bali & Beyond.

Words, sentences, stories... these are my passion. I love to take new challenges in writing for various format and media. I create contents for websites, blogs, and communication materials. I’ve also worked as a copywriter, translator, coffee book editor, social media coordinator, media consultant, and even writing for a specialty coffee packaging.

Interior design, travel, environment, culinary, culture, history, and social issues are some of the themes that I have worked with in the past. I love getting involves with individuals, companies, organizations, and communities with stories to tell.

I am available for assignment worldwide. Reach me at eve(dot)tedja(at)gmail(dot)com.


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