She used to worry about what people thought of her. She always wanted to make a good impression. But she knew that she couldn’t keep it up, and that was especially true after she went to work at the Obdachlosenhein. She also knew that members of her family would be the first to disapprove of her. She wouldn’t have gone to work there had Fritz not gone to war. She wouldn’t have had the freedom and wouldn’t have met the people responsible for her conversion to socialism. But this wasn’t the tipping point. She’d always had a rebellious streak, and no one could dispute it. Fritiz had seen it, and he later tried to put himself in her place. He tried to imagine what it was like to be abandoned for as long as she had been and quickly realized that he might’ve “strayed” too. He had his own indiscretions to contend with, his dark side. It gave him a different perspective than he would’ve had otherwise. Though it wasn’t something he was proud of, it was something that wouldn’t surprise anyone. To keep a mistress was pretty common, and it was known that many men had more than one household since there was a shortage of men. They however generally managed to juggle everything, with two women and in some cases two families; it was generally easier for them than what Pauline faced.
One day, when she went shopping with Eva, she began to talk about the men in her life. They were having lunch in a café, and no one could hear them because the place was packed. Eva expected to hear something about Fritz, about some things that were going wrong in the their marriage, or some juicy gossip…that sort of thing. She didn’t hear a thing about Fritz. It seemed as if Fritz didn’t exist. Eva was surprisingly supportive. In this regard Pauline thought she was blessed. Eva actually knew more about Pauline’s marriage than she did, and it was the first time that they had talked in this way. They’d had the opportunity before but simply hadn’t done it. If Eva had been in Pauline’s shoes she would’ve settled for a conventional marriage. The constraints wouldn’t have bothered her. She would’ve married Fritz in a heartbeat. Without thinking, she said, “We can’t have everything.” When Pauline asked why, she said, “It doesn’t work that way.” Pauline had just chronicled her various romantic relationships without naming names and wasn’t quite sure why she did it. Eva felt like saying, “You can’t do that when you’re married” but restrained herself. Normally an employer wouldn’t confide in an employee in this manner, and it felt awkward. Still Eva felt excited about it, as the two women picked their way through what could’ve been a very thorny conversation. And Pauline saw that Eva had greater insight than a household servant normally would, while she knew her husband and that he was attracted to Eva. She even suspected that they were having an affair and because of it she looked at Eva with new respect. It was even liberating, though she had grown tired of the complications.
She never liked to play charades. She knew that hard feelings would come along the way. She didn’t want any and was determined not to have any. But some things were inevitable, some things were better left unsaid, and she knew it. Sometimes people couldn’t help themselves. Unfortunately thorns hurt.
In the beginning the life she lived had been an adventure. Sometimes it was a struggle. Otherwise she didn’t see anything wrong with it. And for a while it seemed like her new destiny would work for her: the freedom, the chance to be a well-rounded human being, and not having to be either a lady or a tramp. She didn’t have to chose between a career and a life centered round her husband. At the same time it was still very new and wasn’t accepted by everybody. Conventional marriages hadn’t yet become an artifact of a bygone age. Perhaps it never would. Perhaps there would always be tradeoffs. Pauline knew one think: it was better to have an intellectual match than the constraints of a conventional marriage.
Like it or not, she was still a mother and like so many women she had difficulty reconciling that with who she wanted to be. She was nervous about leaving the boys with Eva at first. She didn’t want to get that look from other people that she knew she’d get. But if she was going to fulfil her destiny she didn’t have a choice. Like was said before, she had the most trouble with her family. There they didn’t want to accept the person that she’d become. They seemed to think that she was headed for ruin. They seemed to think that she should be ashamed of herself. So because of that “working all the time” liberated her. Of course, she didn’t work all the time.
Sometimes on Sundays she and Frederick went to the Vienna woods and hiked their favorite trails, and sometimes afterwards went to their favorite tavern in Grinzing where they would drink and sing.
She often thought back to the afternoon when she posed nude in the woods for Frederick…that picture of her sitting on a log with her hair hanging down over her breasts…and knew that she looked beautiful. Then why did Frederick say he liked ugly nudes? She wondered if Frederick would prefer it if she looked and acted like a whore and worried that that might be how he viewed her. Why did he prefer ugly nudes? She wondered, “Am I ugly?” How could he hate women when he loved her? Maybe he only hated some women.