RIGHT: Elizabeth I, about thirteen years old, c. 1546/7, via The Faces of Elizabeth I
"The first twenty years of your life don't really count," said a fellow guest at a dinner party last night.
"Basically, you don't start your life until you're twenty."
Wouldn't this come as a surprise to many people in history? Henry VIII, for instance, who was crowned at seventeen. (Or the Virgin Mary, who was a teenager when she and gGod had a child together--whether you believe that literally or not, for a couple thousand years people accepted that the Creator thought teenagers were people.)
I'd been maintaining a politic silence at the dinner table because I didn't know most of the other guests--all of whom were middle-aged like me--but at that, I lost it.
"I totally disagree!" I said.
"If anything, I think we're at our most authentic when we're about... nine, when we've come into awareness of our selves and the world, while the layers of social rules haven't yet accreted. And maybe we're not at our happiest, but when we're teenagers we often see things more clearly and passionately than we do later, when we can get kind of worn down."
This gambit worked about as well as chopping tomatoes with a dull knife, so I went back to quietly eating the truly excellent cucumbers in sweet vinegar.
Later in the evening, someone else brought up Mary I, one of the Tudors.
"Which one was she?" I asked.
"You know, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth's sister," the guest said.
"Oh, yeah, Catherine of Aragon's daughter," I said.
"How did you know that?" the guest asked.
And I explained that the BBC's The Six Wives of Henry VIII had totally riveted me the year I was nine.
This morning, bink and I went out for coffee. She'd watched the show in 1970 too, and we can both still name all the wives (and not just because three were C/Katherines), and their fates, though neither of us have studied the Tudors since then. (I usually dislike historical fiction, so I've avoided the many retellings.)
I love who I was at nine--I'd like to be more like that girl. (Maybe I am. She was not good at polite socializing either.) I don't understand people who think children don't have intense and complete feelings, interests, and ideas.
Are these people forgetting childhood, or did they not have those things themselves?
Anyway, I looked it up, and The Six Wives streams from Netflix, so I'm going to watch it tonight for the first time in forty years.