18 May 2013

I am taking the day off. I am sitting on the couch with the windows open drinking coffee and, basically, doing nothing but thinking. So I figure, why not capture some thoughts and see what happens?

What’s on my mind is the phrase “beautifully decrepit” that I mentioned in another recent post. I’m thinking about how so much of America has been spoilt, to my mind anyway, by the need to surround ourselves with things that are shiny, clean, and new. I am a fan of the tarnished, the chipped, and the old. Of course I like some new things, too, but in the grander scheme of things, and given a choice, I prefer the old. I live in an old house, in an old (on an American timescale) village, full of old furniture, and my favorite possessions are the few old things that I’ve carried arid with me since childhood. Things I made. Things passed down to me from my family. Things given to me by friends.

In my old town, what I love most of all, perhaps, is the ruins of an abandoned watermill hidden behind the hardware store. Hidden, I say, although you can see it from the street and it is at the top of a small path that follows the river down a hill through the woods, allowing me to bypass the street entirely as I walk home from said hardware store.

All of this reminds me of my favorite poem, by William Carlos Williams. The poem begins:

The most marvelous is not
the beauty, deep as that is,
but the classic attempt
at beauty
at the swamp’s center: the
dead-end highway, abandoned
when the new bridge went in finally.

-William Carlos Williams
from “The Hard Core of Beauty”

 

The sweaters I wear are the ones my mother and grandmother made. The afghan I am wrapped in, I’ve had since I was a little girl. I don’t get all this need for newness. What are we hiding? What are we hiding from? What are we afraid of? That our neighbors will think less of us because we have an old car or a threadbare winter coat? I love that in my small town of Vermont, I can dress as a slob and no one judges me. I can be fat or thin, I can wear new boots or an old coat, I can color and style my hair or leave it gray and messy, I can get a manicure or go out with ink all over my hands, and no one judges me.

EuroDonna is appalled by my lack of concern over my wardrobe, hair, nails, and looks in general these days. But AmeriDonna gets it. And at fifty-one, I am happy to spend some time as AmeriDonna, just relaxing into who, what, and where I am. Perhaps at some future juncture I will look back at photos of myself from this time and be appalled by my lack of concern about my outer appearance, the way I do when I look back at photos of me during my late thirties. But I can’t live my life now for what some future me may think, if she lives long enough to go onto another phase of life.

I don’t really want to do anything today. Just sit around. Maybe knit. Maybe read. Maybe take a walk. Maybe not. I’m thinking I may just take a cue from my cats and lie around lazily all day with no guilt or agenda.

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