‘Girls’ Hits Close to Home

February 10, 2013 12:30 pm

Something horrible happened to me last night.

At a civilised Melbourne restaurant, over a plate of barramundi, my beloved father cut me off. That was it. In a quick conversation, the money well ran dry and I was left thirsty, alone and poor.

I haven’t been a chronic leech. I haven’t had an allowance in over a year. I haven’t needed one as I’ve had a job.

Faced as I am, however, with an imminent move to the US with no job and scant prospects, I suggested that maybe a little pocket-money might help ease the transition and save me from living in a crack den and/or a life of prostitution.

You see, my argument was that while $300 dollars a month would matter very little to him, for me it might be the last floodgate protecting my fledgling savings from a tidal wave. I was very careful to stress that this tiny income would not be forever, but just while I got settled. However long getting settled takes.

As reasoned and reasonable as my argument was, he was unmoved. The time has come for me to do it on my own, he reasoned, just as he had done when he had moved from Australia to the UK. This was an end of an era. I have, after all, been supplementing my income with Dad’s ever since I discovered that he kept a change jar on the top shelf of his wardrobe.

While some children measure their height against a doorframe, I could chart my growth by the increasing ease with which I could climb the drawers and, steadying myself by gripping his ties, reach the top ledge. He knew I was doing it; I was never subtle in my thieving and always took the whole lot, (with the exception of the smallest silver coins. Beggars can totally be choosers).girls

To my credit, I took the news well. I really did. I smiled while the rug was pulled out from under me. Perhaps it was simply a delayed reaction, like a cartoon character that sprints off a cliff and keeps running until it realises that it’s actually in mid-air, and then plummets.

It’s now 24 hours later and a slight feeling of unease dogs me. Not because of the money, but what it represents, it’s yet another signifier of just how grown-up I am supposed to be, but am yet to feel. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that it is time for me to be totally independent- a large part of me craves it- I just don’t feel that I have cracked the adult world yet, and can’t really see a way to do it. I am a balloon, bobbing against the ceiling of adulthood, whose parents have stopped funding its helium supply.

Want to know what has been a surprising source of comfort? Girls, the American TV-show written by 26 year-old Lena Dunham that documents the confusing lives of four girls fresh out of university. Older people may not see its worth, and many may be repelled by the show’s grossness (I myself, could do without the nudity), but, as a young girl transitioning into a not-so-young girl, it’s comforting to see girls who are also having growing pains. In fact, in the very first episode, Hannah’s parents cut her off financially.

Girls captures a time of intense change that has been largely overlooked or glamorised on TV. In fact, in writing Hannah, who is ‘ambitious, but doesn’t know where to place it’, and her struggle to find her place in a highly competitive, economically-stunted world, Dunham often portrays exactly how I feel. It has served as a reminder that I’m not alone in feeling completely lost and unnerved by independence.

Dunham put it brilliantly when discussing the show with actor Alec Baldwin on his show for WYNC Here’s the Thing, “If you ask a girl in her 20’s, ‘Are you a happy person?’ I think she can say, ‘I have happy moments,’ but I don’t think it’s possible… to be an at-peace human when you are between 22 and 30.”

Perhaps I will be OK after all.

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  • Silvia

    Very enjoyable article – made me laugh remembering when I was cut off first too! Good luck in the US – I’m sure you will make it just fine!

  • Deb

    Hah, really good piece! I loved the balloon. Good writing.

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