I’ve just finished reading Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s newest book, The Way Home Looks Now. Two thumbs up! It’s a story with lots of heart, sadness, hope and baseball. One of the plot points has got me reflecting on my growing up. As a terrible athlete, I never personally felt the pinch of those days before Title IX, but I had good friends who, like one of the book’s characters, chafed at the rules that “girls can’t play sports.” Even though Donna Searight was the best athlete in my entire sixth grade class, hands down, there were no teams for her to put her athletic prowess and desire to test.
It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that girls were allowed to wear pants — slacks, not jeans! — to school. And that only after a heated campaign, complete with a pep assembly skit featuring guys in skirts to show us girls how silly (!) it would be to change the dress code. And, even though I was a darned good student and one of the only females in the computer club (think back to the days of Fortran and Cobol and punch cards), when it came time for my senior year conference with my high school counselor, she laughed at me when I said I wanted to go to law school. Girls could be nurses, teachers and secretaries. “You’re very good at typing,” she said, pointedly.
Not that I regret where I’ve ended up, or the circuitous journey that led me to my passion, but Wendy’s story brought back powerful memories. I am a good typist. . .but so much more. Just like the girls and young women I so love to write about.
I really can’t wait to read The Way Home Looks Now. Who could ask for anything more in a book than “heart, sadness, hope and baseball?” We didn’t have the assembly, but I can imagine it. I was also very good at typing and didn’t finish college until my mid-thirties, well after my two girls were born. I had always been told the same career choices as you. Thanks for this post. It bring up plenty of memories for me as well.