I've been digging into old gossip about someone I admire very much, gossip that is about a quarter of a century old.
I'm not sure why I am compelled to turn over these rocks, but I am drawn to them, irresistibly and obsessively. It isn't exactly changing my opinion of the object of my admiration. Though she may have said and done some things that look hypocritical when compared against the stances she takes quite publicly today, I am not inclined to hold her hostage to decisions made and actions taken so very long ago. This stuff is ancient history, long forgiven by the people involved and by the people who were scandalized by it, or not, at
But if it's not bothering me - if it's not making me think less of her, as I insist - why am I worrying it like a loose tooth? The attraction is perhaps driven partly by the sheer tastiness of it; it's human nature to be titillated by a salacious story. But there's more to it. I think I am drawn to the history of a more vulnerable youth of this woman who stands today so thoroughly powerful and above reproach. If there is a touch of arrogance about her today, she has earned it. In her past, though, she was less sure of herself, and less consistent; these scandals I have been investigating occurred at a time when she was struggling mightily with the very same issues that I, at the same age she was then, struggle with today: issues of personal and professional identity. She sorted them out in time - and how! - and became a better and stronger person for the experience. If she can do this, than perhaps so can I.
And so, perhaps, I study the fragility of her youth in order to give baseline and context to the magnificence of her present.
Two facts about me: I have always been drawn to women older than myself, and I have always longed to be older than I am. When I was in my 20s I longed for my 30th birthday. Now that I am well into my 30s I eagerly anticipate the arrival of 40, so dreaded by so many others. The reason for this, I think, is that I have always hoped that with age will come resolution, a sense of togetherness and purpose, and end to the persistent confusion that seems to define my life. This hero I so admire (neither "heroine" nor "heroin," I say, with a warm nod to an old friend who once called me on that particular bit of linguistic serendipity) is a woman more than 20 years my senior, and as grounded and accomplished as a person can be. If I just look at her as she is today, I see a state of grace and confidence that I can never attain. But if I look at her in the light of missteps she took when she was my age, and see how beautifully and completely she has recovered from them and learned from them, perhaps I can take a little comfort for my own future.
To you, whatever readers have stuck with me this far, I apologize for being so cryptic. The fact is that I don't want to be responsible for dredging up these old scandals, for leaving them, attached to my name, in a place where Google searches can find them. And so I am not naming names or being specific about the events in question. Some of you will know what I am talking about, some will not; and that will have to do for today.