[Essay] What a woman wants: “I’ll be your first mate.”

I don’t need a protector — I want an ally.

Because those who need protecting are helpless, which I am not. I am competent; I can manage on my own. But life can sometimes be pretty rough, and then I need an extra hand.

Therefore I want an ally: an equal who lets me develop and be myself, and comes to help when he is called on to.

And if we are allies, it’s reciprocal: I’ll respect your space and be there for you when you need me.

Now, I probably won’t clean the house or do the laundry often; I like doing that from time to time, but most often I like my job better. And I can pay for someone to do the household chores. (I will probably cook sometimes though, especially if you are appreciative of my efforts.)

Likewise, I won’t expect you to mow the lawn or wash the car — again, someone else can be paid to do it. But if the faucet is dripping, the doorknob broken, or the shower out of order — I’ll fix them. I’m great at household repairs.

In case you are wondering, it’s not all equality. There can only be one captain on board a ship. Because I trust you and know you will always listen to what I have to say, you will have the final word in the momentous decisions. I’ll be thankful that you bear this burden and I will help you bear it, with advice and support.

You be the captain, I’ll be your first mate.

In Portuguese, the word for first mate is imediato, and I like that; it means there’s nothing in between. No-one and nothing will come between you and me.

Mind you, I’m not saying it will all be smooth sailing. What I am saying is: it will be worth it.

It won’t always be smooth, because I can be a mess. I know my worth, but don’t always believe it; I’m insecure about my accomplishments and my potential — and my youthful beauty, that has passed its zenith and declines to the horizon.

I have too many thoughts and feelings: I regret the past and fear the future and fret about the present. I also soak up other people’s feelings, good and bad; this makes me great at relating and being kind, but can be quite draining. I can have sleepless nights and get up a wreck; I float on the crests and troughs of hormonal changes, and hate myself for mood swings I cannot fully bring under control.

If we are to sail together, you will need to be immensely patient and supportive. But also, you will have what you thought was an unattainable dream.

For I’m life-and-death loyal: we will fight shoulder to shoulder, back to back. I’ll trumpet your merits to the world. (And I’ll dislike anyone who does not value you.) I will make you laugh with the funny things I say. I’ll share my every idea with you, the brilliant and the crazy ones. I’ll be your best friend, walking with you in the rain, watching your favourite films and staying at the hospital until you come out at two in the morning.

I’ll be the eternal stranger that keeps you at discovery; your exciting date, your midnight lover.

Because I’m the one who wants to give it all, and half of my happiness is making you happy.

You wonder — can I really be all that? My friend, I can. I’m a woman; I’m the All-Possibility. Not because I chose to: between ourselves, I sometimes feel if I could, I would be a man like you. (It looks a lot more fun to be taller and stronger, and not live in fear, and be more self-confident and less empathetic, and not even have to defend myself because people won’t mess with me in the first place.)

But I wasn’t given the choice. I was born a woman, and for a lifetime I must make do as best I can.

And for that, sometimes I need an ally; and all the time, I want a friend, one who knows how to give and to receive. After all, life is worth a lot more when it’s spent in great company.

So, these are my terms. If you like them, let’s shake hands on it, and step on board.

The dawn has come. The tide is rising, and the wind blows fair; it’s a good hour to set sail.

I’m ready when you are — my captain.

© 2020 Beatriz Becker. Photo: needpix.com

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