David Rakoff

I’m kind of crushed that David Rakoff went and died. Fresh Air played a couple of interviews with him yesterday. They’re good.

On whether or not he had a happy childhood.

I had a beautiful childhood and a lovely childhood. I just didn’t like being a child. I didn’t like the rank injustice of not being listened to. I didn’t like the lack of autonomy. I didn’t like my chubby little hands that couldn’t manipulate the world of objects in the way that I wanted them to. Being a child, for me, was an exercise in impotent powerlessness.

Oh yes. That’s why youth is wasted on the young, as Shaw pointed out. (Was it Shaw? I think so.) I hated the lack of autonomy. I hated that and loved every new little increment of it that I got. I think that’s why I always missed living in the country during the five years that we lived in town (when I was between 3 and 8) – a small child can’t just wander around in town. Mind you, I overestimated how much of that I could do in the country, and wandered away at age 3 to be picked up and returned by some adult in a car. I also tried to make a break for it in town, but I got caught pretty quickly. I was a wandering child – I loved wandering more than most things.

This plays into my adult feminism: one of the oppressions of women I hate most is the array of obstacles to women wandering freely and unmolested. I don’t want to be locked up in a house or a burqa, and I don’t want people telling me what to do with my face when I’m wandering. I want my freedom.

I just wasn’t — and I was never terribly good at that kind of no-holds-barred fun. … I’ve essentially made a career on not being good at no-holds-barred fun. But, you know, I [was] just never sort of like, hey, yes, let’s go play. I was always more sort of like, does everybody know where the fire exit is? And let’s make sure there’s enough oxygen in this elevator. … As a grownup it’s much easier to work — to navigate the world with that, because then you can just go home to your own apartment.

Hahahahaha yes exactly. That was another bad thing about being a child: not having your own apartment.

And I was never like, hey, yes, let’s go play either. I had four boy cousins and I would play roughly with them but then I would be all wiped out and crabby. It didn’t suit me. My way of “playing” was to pretend to be someone else – usually someone who was wandering around the countryside, or else building versions of “my own apartment” in the barn or the bushes or under a tree.

This was supposed to be about David Rakoff and it’s turned out to be about my childhood. Ah well.