Something's Gotta Give
Four Women Writers on the Lasting Influence of Marilyn Monroe
I Wanna Be Loved By You
By Alene Dawson
Around the time I was five, my parents' marriage ended and I was sent to live temporarily with my grandparents in a Michigan town so small, it didn't even have a stoplight. I knew my parents loved me, but at the time it was hard to make sense of their decision not to be with me. I adapted to the different surroundings with the adept nimbleness of someone born with a survivor's instinct and a Midwestern practicality. Do not be a cry-baby.
But at times, I felt a kind of craving—a homesickness that resonated physically in my body. It was a hot ache that heightened with the anticipation of seeing my parents, as I waited for the first glimpse of one of their cars barreling up highway M60. And I made sure that when they did arrive, my hair, face and clothes were so becoming-so pretty and appropriate that there was no way they could not take me back home with them for good.
I don't remember the first time I had the (misguided) idea that if I was just pretty enough, people wouldn't leave. But I do remember sitting on the side of the tub, watching my mother—a beautiful, tall woman with long dark hair—dab perfume behind her ears and coif her curls into a meticulous updo before she'd slip into a gleaming evening gown. I remember the sound her lips made as she pressed them together, evening out the color of her lipstick.
I remember being praised for wearing frilly dresses and patent leather shoes, and being scolded for playing in the rain. And when I came back bruised from climbing trees, I remember being told, "You'll regret those bruises Alene Maria. Men don't love women with scars."
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