Nostalgic for Another Age

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor holds my thoughts a lot lately as I’ve been reading it. In a time where wealth, elitism, and a hostile environment towards modernism in art and Jewish culture become a chaotic romantic period all its own. I continually think about what it must have been like to be part of high society. To live with papers writing about you and to see painters display portraits of yourself commissioned and hung on gallery walls. To live during a time of revolution and oppression all at once.

I often think about the way things were then. About what being a young woman in society looked like. The oppression of the feminine sexuality in the brink of its liberation. A time when social standing could be both a blessing and a curse to the private and social life depending on the pastime you chose as a lady. The more I read about it, the more I find myself wishing to ah e lived it. To be part of the golden revolution of sexuality and modernism. To go to fashionable parties and meet the artists of the time, talk to hem about their artistry, to speak on political climates and to spend time bejeweled in gowns at operas with friends.

Most days I wish I was born in another era.

What I both love and loath about the time is he way men treated women. Male callers would respectfully call on you and show you a good time, but to be seen as anything but virtuous while out with the male caller would mean the complete destruction of your eligibility were things not to work out. If you were less fortunate, you’re marriages would be arranged, with wealthy older men who probably had mistresses and STDs. Still, the glamor of the wealthy lifestyle would have been nice. To own palaces and fine jewelry. To attend social events regularly at salons to exchange new and exciting ideas. To get dressed to the aces and go out dancing as a single debutante. The thrill of being chased after, and the thrill of knowing you had a chance against all chances to sense the changing tide of female liberation.

Of course, the book I’m reading takes placed during both WWI and WWII. With political anxiety at its height threatening the liberation you so desperately were seeking and the research of Freud was so nearly honoring, only to be swept under the rug of war along with racism. What a trying, terrifying, and anxious time it would be to live in, if we are being realistic. Not something to envy.

Still, I romanticize the idea of living high society life in those days at its glamorous height. I envision myself much like the rebellious women of the time. Sensually dressed in the latest forbidden fashions. Frequenting salons to talk on the artistic and political climate (which only means talking about men, which I would be a considerable advocate of being young, single, and allowed my forgivable ignorance). Sipping champagne and tea on hot afternoons in galleries, alone and mysterious…and stubbornly unchaperoned. Loudly fighting for women’s suffrage and rights at the turn of the century.

Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about it a lot. Wondering why such things no longer take place? Though, to be realistic once again, such lifestyles require not just wealth, but elitism, something most Americans, myself included, would cringe at. That is the unfortunate issue with fantasies like this…they have so many negatives about them that at the end of the day you wonder how good could anyone in high society, then or now, really have it? Still, the shallow part of me wishes being able to dress up and go to respectable house parties Gatsby style wouldn’t be too bad if one could avoid the drama and times were fairly peaceful.

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Cluttered Brain

As I stared at the papers strewn on my desk, carelessly threatening to thrust themselves violently to the office floor, I began to realize how bad I was getting again. Lost in my own sad thoughts as I felt the coffee go cold in my hands, I listened to the hum of quiet voices. My manager, and one of our newest IT employees attempting to figure out why I had been constantly kicked out of the server over the last year and a half with no solid connection.

Their language was their own as my thoughts were mine.

The depression had worsened again, and I hadn’t realized the true nature of the beast until I observed my spaces. My desk was more untidy than it had ever been, strewn with printouts of projects long since over, pens found homelessness in the wide open of that rough and cluttered cityscape of papers, or found themselves makeshift homes between curls of white. They seemed oddly arranged, as if you could follow the trail of my indecision and anxiety. Each pen had been lost between thoughts and revisions, and in my unfocused stupor, replaced only to be displaced. My own basket stood empty, naked, and ironic amidst the battlefield of fallen soldiers. A lonely survivor of a brainstorm gone wrong and wild.

Wrong and wild. Like all my thoughts and actions had become.

When I arrived home and collapsed into bed, I noticed a similar scene on my dresser. Copious amounts of makeup was strewn across the black surface of my dresser. Vitamin and pill bottles accompanied it. All stood motionless and telling. The story of a young woman, struggling to wake up in the mornings, take her pills and vitamins, and look presentable at work with only five minutes left to spare. Eye shadows and glitters piled and overlapped like bodies in trenches after a melee between my face and my brain. Diet pills littered between the brushes told the rest of the tale. The war was tiresome between my perception of self and societies perception of beauty. It was never ending. Hopeless.

Never enough.

The clutter was only the physical sign of my depression. The sleepless nights and tired days were more of a silent and unseen / unnoticed battle. I would often lay awake watching my husband sleep and wonder if he would even care or notice if I went into another room for the rest of the night and tried harder to rest without distraction.

If only my brain wouldn’t betray me.

Vacation: Good Night

It was dark when we finally arrived home. Ten long hours in the car had taken its toll, and on the way home every weekend in October on our calendar filled as we replied to the many messages we had ignored while on vacation.

It was raining as we unloaded the vehicle. My husband took the liberty of braving the wet so I didn’t have to. He brought in the suit cases and the left over groceries we brought that we’re not consumed on the trip. I started unloading each bag as kitties wound their way between and under my feet.

When we finally got in bed after an hour of unpacking I was reminded of how empty our vacation bed had felt without two fat kitties in it with us. Their purrs calmed my nerves as they wound themselves between us. One by our heads and the other between our torsos. It was rare that they would sleep in such close proximity, and I was glad to be witness to the occasion, but also saddened by how much they had missed us over the course of our four day vacation.

“I missed this.” My husband whispered with a hand petting each cat. I nuzzled my face into the cat nearest my face, unsure in the dark which one it was until I heard a throaty purr indicating it was our female cat, Shelby.

“Me too.” I whispered into her fur.