Magnificent Obsession

It was Friday. I’d been looking forward to it, dreaming of it, actually, for days. I knew what I was going  to do.  No need to announce my intentions to others. I had an itch of a kind that must be scratched.

Let’s just say I was looking for  a companion with certain attributes. I wanted a solid, steadfast presence with some nurturing aspects. I tended to favor the company of a more mature companion, but I wouldn’t discriminate based on age.  Nor would I turn down an adventurous or mysterious spirit. In my mind’s eye I had seen myself, breathless and enthralled, hanging on to every word and moment with my future friend, marveling  at his (or her) genius. And ah, our imagined parting! What sorrow! I wanted to weep in advance, for as surely as I would cleave to the charms of my companion, so I would also seek to avoid our inevitable parting.

This insatiable need I am describing is not new. I don’t mean to be such a user, but if I am anywhere close to my type of friend  I can’t pay attention to anything else. In the end I will take everything the friend has to offer, turn away from it and seek a replacement. Friday was no exception. I was on the prowl.

But  I  couldn’t go just yet. I had to prepare. I showered, dressed, and fortified myself with a light lunch. I would need my wits about me for my journey.  I didn’t bring my camera; I didn’t know if this kind of intimacy was something best recorded on film. You know, the capturing of souls and all that.

In due time, I left the house. My heart was eager, and urged me to travel swiftly toward my rendezvous.  I reminded myself I need not be desperate, that the right companion, or companions, would await me. This was not a time to dwell on imaginary scarcities. There will be an ample supply, I murmured to myself to slow my heart’s acceleration.

When I arrived, I was welcomed into a pleasant chamber to view my prospects. Others  were there, no doubt to choose according to their desired types, but I barely registered them as I reconnoitered the room. Perhaps to prevent frenzied behaviors on the part of the lookers, our hosts had piped in some smooth jazz  recordings which sent an unspoken message,”This is a classy type of  meat market.”

Music helped to manage our obsessive tendencies.

Music helped to manage our obsessive tendencies.

But a meat market it was! Our hosts had scoured far and wide to provide us with a startling array of companions- new, old. short, substantial, local. practical, exotic. cultured, unrefined, alluring, erudite, nondescript. Helpers circulated among the lookers, encouraging them in their choices. No one would have to leave empty handed.

These autographed options stood on a bookcase by themselves.

These autographed options stood on a bookcase by themselves.

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You can’t judge them by their covers.

I saw many familiar friends from the past, ones whose beauty and truth I would never forget. I ran my hands over them, willing the fond memories of our times together. I was glad they were available for others. I browsed. I  took my time, moving aside patiently for others, as they in turn did for me.  The atmosphere was so civilized that I risked taking a few  discreet pictures with my phone.IMG_1930

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So I can soothe my savage beast at home.

II

Hello, handsome!

Hello, handsome!

More eye candy.

More eye candy.

I selected carefully, opting in the end for an eclectic  mix of potential friends, returning to the fold those which did not strike my fancy, just as I hoped others would do for me.  I had no idea how long I had been in there, oblivious to hunger, thirst, or any other human need. A glance around the area showed I was not the only one in an endorphin filled haze. Gladly I gave the nominal fee to take my choices home for further inspection.

To each his own.

To each his own.

This kind lady and other volunteers helped me replenish my supplies for the nonce.

This kind lady and other volunteers helped me replenish my supplies for the nonce.

It has been two days. and we are settling in together nicely. I need not hurry to choose a favorite; each one  will share its  treasures with me at my pleasure, as many times as I want. There will be other selections in the future, but these are fine for today. My itch has subsided for the time being, happy with the anticipation of the thrills to come. How about you? Met any fascinating new friends lately?

On The Correct Path With Jane Eyre

I’m convinced that all humans have internal lists of “what is supposed to happen” in their lives. In my life, it is “supposed to ” snow every winter. I’m talking about  grey skies  bursting with  frozen precipitation, plump snowflakes drifting past my windows and  snowdrifts disguising lawn chairs and toy wagons. I mean a blanket of snow that sends us  rifling through drawers  for the “snow clothes” necessary to frolic outside.   For the second year in a row we have gotten nothing except for the lightest dusting of snow, which does not even qualify one to rush to the store for blizzard supplies such as hot chocolate, chocolate bars, and marshmallows.

If you, reader, do not hail from the South, I had better tell you that down here even ONE INCH of snow will paralyze the city. Stores and offices close, and yes, there is  an air of hysteria, pre-snow, at Kroger’s, where hordes of shoppers fill their carts with the above mentioned necessities plus bread, milk and instant fire logs. We are giddy  because we know we will not have to go to work or school. It is what I call an excused absence from  adult life. What a blissful moment indeed it is to announce,” I can’t go to work today. I may as well play in the snow!”

Upon my return from Istanbul, which was also snow-free, I had to admit to myself that this bleak, lackluster winter was all we were to have this year.  My chances for snow had evaporated faster than a snowball on a  hissing radiator. I would not be donning my snow boots to crunch through a silent pristine wonderland, but huddling, covered by layers of sweater,  by a space heater instead. For a time I indulged myself with self pity. I was cold. The days were dark. “What was one to do?” I wondered morosely.

Of course there was but one practical solution: to embrace the ugliness of the winter by pretending to be Jane Eyre!  Nerdy you say? Goofy? I would say it is no more goofy and nerdy than having imaginary conversations with people I don’t know, which is what I  am doing right now.books

The fact that I was at that time  listening to Jane Eyre , thanks  to the  marvelous  podcast CraftLit,  probably contributed to my decision. On an unpromising Saturday morning I set out  with my Ipod, walking at Shelby Farms Patriot Lake. I decided I would use my camera to catalogue the sights, both colorful and bland, which caught my eye.DSC_0342 As the wind whipped across the lake, I wrapped my scarf more tightly  around myself  while contemplating Jane’s dismal childhood of chilblains and privation, and her eventual posting at Thornfield. The chapters that day concerned Mr. Rochester’s  false pursuit of Blanche Ingram, the cruel ingenue, in full view of poor besotted Jane.

Jane Eyre was alone in the world.

Jane Eyre was alone in the world.

As I rounded the path for another lap, I began to enumerate ways in which I resembled Jane Eyre. One, I was on foot in an ugly setting, just like lowly Jane. Though not a  governess,  I do work to keep children safe and healthy. I thought Jane was a good judge of character when she saw through both Miss Ingram and Mr. Rochester. I hoped that I too had intuition about other people. Jane didn’t try to put on airs, which I thought was a plus. I too eschew wearing makeup and dressing in uncomfortable clothes. Mr. Rochester could confuse and annoy Jane to no end, just as my husband can confuse and annoy me!

Passing  a lone bench by the lake, I imagined myself  as Jane in a bonnet and long skirt, walking for a while before she returned home to sit by the fire.DSC_0355 I decided that the character trait I most admired about Jane was her deep knowledge of her self. She knew her values and  refused to compromise them. Even in the constricted social environment for women at the time, she struggled never to be beholden to anyone. Her ability to listen to her own inner voice helped her not to be swayed by the opinions of others.DSC_0352

This was good food for thought. How was I doing on listening to myself? How was I living out my values? How was I giving back to the world? Each question I asked myself led to another question, and eventually to a few answers. The answers don’t matter as much as the fact that I asked them. My pretend game had put me right on the path of self examination, which  was just  the correct “supposed to” for that day.DSC_0332

How about you? Do you ever admire character traits in fictional characters? Which ones? Do you have those traits or wish you did? I won’t ask you to tell whether you actually pretend to be the characters BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW YOU DO! But don’t worry. People like Jane Eyre don’t tell tales!