My friend Christie always teases me that I was born in the wrong time-period. She says she can picture me in a bonnet. The other day I came to work in a dress something similar to Baby wore in Dirty Dancing and she said, “Don’t you look very Puritan today!” She says it all in love and not with the least bit of malice, and I actually sort of take it as a compliment anyway. I wasn’t too chaste in my early twenties–though I wasn’t exactly a partier, either–so it is nice to be thought of as conservative…and pure.
Despite my tendency toward promiscuity when I was younger, I actually have always been somewhat old-fashioned. I am a home-body, and although I appreciate and applaud the strides women have taken these past several decades, I would love nothing better than to be June Cleaver and answer the door in my dresses and pearls with a glass of brandy for my husband and a piping hot dinner on the dining room table in my house of sparkling floors and plump couch pillows. I am pretty sure that Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas (one of my favorite bloggers) and I would have been BFFs had we grown up together, because I hitched up giant My Little Ponies to a toy baby pram to use as a covered wagon so that my Barbie could be Laura Ingalls, and begged my mother for pinafores.
Sometimes this world seems to move too fast for me. There are so many people in it and always rushing to be somewhere, and rarely using good manners; children–toddlers, even–constantly on cell phones or some electronic devices; bawdy lyrics on the radio incessantly–even in country music (which has lately really gone down the drain–I am not into this “bro country” thing)…it just hurts my heart sometimes. I was killing time in Wal-Mart the other day while my car was having its tires balanced and rotated, and I was walking up and down the aisles looking at things. I have no small children and no little girls, and it is my heart’s greatest desire to have a wee lady, so I decided to look at baby clothes and little girl toys and fantasize what I might have for my future daughter. The dolls were just so ugly–scantily clad with garish make-up and the baby clothes even seemed like they were less than modest. I always picture babies as being sweet in pastels, at least for their first year (this is a huge Southern thing), but there were all kinds of animal prints and neon. I just think animal prints are for panties–or animals–not babies.
I have spent the past week reading the Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery, which is one of my favorite authors. I realize her books are flowery and geared for children (though the children would need to be very knowledgeable about literature and classical mythology to really get them), but it feels so nice to escape into a world of simple beauty. And even though I could shake Emily on scores of occasions (Dean Priest is beyond gross; if you love Teddy then tell him, you fool, or at least quit running away when he is about to tell you; and for goodness’ sake, get over your stupid pride and network in New York so you can climb your Alpine path!), the books really make me long for dairy cows and buttoned boots.
It has taken me a few days to really snap out of my wistful longing and realize that her idyllic world never truly existed. In a way, yes, there was a time and a place where all those lovely things happened, but ugly things happened, too. There was really hard work, lots of narrow-minded people, incurable diseases, fast and loose people, people with ugly hearts–not unlike today.
The truth of the matter is, there has always been nastiness in the world, ever since the fall of man. There has always been raunchy music, slutty clothes, promiscuous or evil behavior, abortion, pollution, bad manners…there really is no such thing as the “Good Ol’ Days”. I wouldn’t even say it is getting worse (except pollution). We have far more people than any time in history, so incidents seem more numerous, but I am not sure the proportionate volume has really changed. I think that the sum of human happiness and the sum of human failures is pretty static, proportionately. In fact, if anything, we are probably in a better time and place in history than even my beloved Laura Ingalls or Maud Montgomery, despite the great wonders and discoveries Laura had or the charm and propriety Maud had. We have more opportunities and freedoms, cures to many ailments, and lots more general knowledge. I suppose what I really want is to know what I know, but travel back in time so that I can wear long dresses and Psyche knots and get around in a horse and buggy at will–but that is absurd as I don’t have a Delorean or a Tardis. What I need to do is attempt to keep the pure, sweet things alive and spread beauty and love in the world as best as possible, which is part of my duty as a disciple. I can help keep evil at bay, but that sweet world of my imagination or in my books won’t come to pass until the next Kingdom, which will be better than ever I could imagine and far better than the world in any book.
We, including and most especially myself, should probably stop sitting on our laurels and whining about how things are not how they used to be and how this world is going to hell in a hand-basket, and instead enjoy the blessings we have and spread them around. Montgomery wouldn’t have wanted me to think that way, either, because as Anne Shirley pointed out to a naysayer, “There are ever so many bright sides…It’s really a beautiful world.”