Scarlett O'Hara, I Feel Your Pain

Gone With the Wind was not my favorite book as a child. Nor as a young adult. I had to wait until I was considerably older to appreciate it. It's the same with the movie. Mom used to drag me along whenever it was re-released, and I remember sitting in the Embassy Theatre as a child, watching the epic unfold on screen and wondering what the big deal was about. I had to become an adult to appreciate the film, too. It's not my favorite film, but I can admire the work that went into it.

The only way I'm like Scarlett physically is that I'm a brunette. The other way is that my parents sheltered me to a certain extent. I certainly wasn't rich, but I think my mother wanted to protect me from harm as much as she could. A bout with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis made my early years a bit of a mess, and I think it anguished my mother. As a result, whatever I wanted, I got, as long as my mom could afford it. I relied on my mom to make things happen, to fight my battles, and as a result, when I really needed to fight, or stand up for myself, I didn't know how.

So that's the way I can relate to Scarlett. When my mother died, I had to take care of the house, pay property taxes, car insurance, house insurance, plus my own bills. I ran though the money she left for me. And it's not like I had a career or anything. My finances continued to get worse and worse, and I didn't really have anyone to help me. Scarlett, after she returns from Atlanta and faces trying to manage a house and servants, thinks that her mother should have taught her how to do something practical, like chop cotton or learn how to split wood. However, Ellen O'Hara thought life would have gone on for Scarlett the way it had for her. She'd get married in her late teens, and end up running a plantation. However, the South collapsed.

In my situation, the economy, both mine and the country's, collapsed. While I am not in fat city, I hear tales of adults with education and work experience who have been idle for anywhere from one to three years. Look, I understand not wanting to work retail. Totally understand that. If you have say, $50,000 saved, I understand how you can cut your expenses back to the bone, and live on the hump of savings, But you do realize that the biggest of humps don't last forever, as Rhett Butler once said. Not having the luxury of savings, I got out there and looked for work--work I didn't like, work where I knew I'd be hired because I wasn't tattooed and pierced on/in every square inch of my body, hired because even though it was part time, I needed work.

And for me it's a bit harder. Sure, Scarlett had a bunch of people to support, but she also had what I don't: a tiny waist and plenty of charm. I am invisible to men, unless of course, they are dirty-minded, borderline crazy, or potentially dangerous. Scarlett was able to steal Frank Kennedy away from her sister, use his money to pay taxes on Tara, and after Rhett got out of jail, he helped her buy a sawmill. I don't know any men with money, and if I did, they wouldn't be spending it on me. So applause to Scarlett O'Hara, but at the same time, she didn't really do it by herself. She had a couple of investors. Me, I have no one except for me. What am I willing to do? I'm working three jobs and planning to return to school next fall. It's going to be student loans and scholarships for me, but if a master's will enable me to teach at more than one college, even on a part time basis, I'll be doing something I like. I'll have a set schedule and weekends off, and one day, it might even lead to a permanent teaching position somewhere.

So Scarlett, I understand. Our mothers wanted nothing but the best for us. But despite everything they did, somehow it just didn't turn out the way they had planned. I could have made better financial decisions when I was younger, but wouldn't we all say something like that? I don't envision myself rich, but we both wanted the same thing: money and security. I will probably never be rich, but one thing I know: I'll have to borrow money from a government or get scholarships in order to get there. No businessman husbands or rich gamblers will take a chance on me. So Scarlett, you were lucky, in a way. Me, I'll have to figure something else out.

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