My Empty Nest Angst; Ms Nin has Married

Since September, I’ve read three of Anais Nin’s diaries. Now, I am letting her go. Back to the library shelves. Also, on to her youthful marriage. If my mind were a family home, I’d be suffering empty nest pains. Indeed, I do have the same partly abandoned, partly liberated feelings I experienced when my teenaged summer housemate left for college. A.N. replaced my young breathing friend; now I’m doubly lost. (Not that I would seriously compare my modest dramas to the angst of lifetime Moms of non-ink children, of course.)

I had Anais with me, from the time she was 11 until she was 19. From child to woman; 1914 to 1923. I sympathized with her affections, beginning with her absent father, and turning to an utterly familiar girlish fascination with boys. Eventually, she came to share my own conclusion. Boys! What silly things they are. She was shy to write of her infatuations, gradually confessing to attractions that glared from between the lines. Shy in general, a hermit girl, Anais was ecstatic to discover new books, new ideas, and to find true friends. She knew that her writing, her thoughts, and the writing of her thoughts made her strange. She threw herself into her little family, two brothers and her mother, and then escaped them again, retreating into her writing. She tried to capture the truth of herself only to learn that it can’t be caught in words, the human self, because it changes too fast. But she kept trying.

I read the Incest volume; let’s not talk about that. Someday, I’ll read about Henry and June, but frankly I’ve had enough of Anais’ fickleness for now. I’d like to read something from her mature years. Was she, at sixty, anything like I am now? Are we still sisters?

Anais Nin left New York when she was 19, and traveled to Cuba. I’ve been privileged, seeing Cuba through her 1923 eyes while, 91 years later, President Obama is re-opening the doors to that country. The drama at the end of Volume Two is disclosed only in the footnotes. Miss Nin didn’t confess, even to her precious diary, the details of her secret determined scheme to save her adored Mama from poverty. She could easily marry a rich Cuban, she thought. She was in love with her future husband, Hugo, in that frustrated feminine way in which she despaired of his occasional oh-so-male detachment. Then, he followed her to Cuba; how undetached is that?! So they married.

I probably won’t read the first nine years of that marriage. Having read 1932, I know how she and Hugo managed. Anyway, I was “married” at 18, until I was 26; those youthful journals are so thick with “why is this marriage rotten now?” that I finally devised an acronym for the problem. SOMD. Same old marriage doldrums. Anais can trudge that path without my eyes upon her. However, I’m curious; by 1932 she absolutely no longer adored her mama. There’s some womanly angst.


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