Ponder this:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A book, a bus, and an aqua robe

I began reading a new book last night. 
New to me. You knew that. It's called That Old Cape Magic, and I think I'm going to like it.
It's always in the first few pages that I taste the flavor of the words and catch the mood. After that, I'm all too tied up (one hopes) in the story to remark upon each turn of phrase. 
So. 
In this story, something "hove into view." I hardly ever read anybody writing about things heaving, into view or otherwise, and "hove" is a word that caught my eye. I had to stop and think of what it was the past tense; that's how long it's been. 
So that's all about that. 


When I was twelve I rode the school bus every day from the village to the town, to the central school. The last leg of the journey took us through a residential development. At the time the houses were new-ish, certainly newer in style than any house I'd ever lived in. One house in particular, a corner house, with odd exterior angles and irregularly-shaped and -placed windows, interested me. 
And one day, as the bus passed that house, I saw . . . a woman, sitting at the kitchen table, her arms raised to hold a widely-spread newspaper. It was a sunny morning, and the warm September light flowed through the big window onto her table, onto her arms and the paper. The windowsill was low, nearly floor-level, and I saw that she relaxed in her chair, her legs crossed. Here's the detail that has become iconic to me: she wore a long, silky, aqua-colored robe and matching slippers. I made up a whole life for that woman, based on having seen her relaxing at her new house kitchen table at 7:40am on a weekday, having a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper, and wearing a long aqua robe. 
She would be mother to someone my age, wife to a handsome, kind, and financially successful man. She would be in complete comfortable control of her home and her schedule . . . which would not be overly demanding . . . lots of hair appointments. After she finished the newspaper she would swipe a sponge along her spotless kitchen counter, float off to take a bath and dress in tidy tailored casual slacks and sweater, and telephone her friends to laugh lightheartedly over the small news of their days and talk about what they would serve for dinner. She would have a coterie of other similarly wealthy and well-housed and -heeled friends and they would share stories of their family's successes. It was obvious to me that anybody who wore a silky long aqua nightgown in a big window in her kitchen in the broad morning light must be hugely confident and secure in every way, living a perfectly comfortable life. Nothing bad had ever, or would ever, happen to her.
Of course I  never knew the woman, and I can't even remember, now, the name of the road. I could find it again, and I could look at that house again, if I wanted to. I bet it would seem dated and shabby to me now. And now I know that nobody lives a life such as I imagined for her.
But I still want a long, silky, aqua-colored robe and matching slippers.

22 comments:

Hilary said...

"I made up a whole life for that woman, based on having seen her"

This is exactly why you're a wonderful writer. I hope Santa or someone knows about your wish for an aqua robe and slippers. :)

VioletSky said...

Fascinating how one sudden image can be imprinted forever in our imagination.

morningbrayfarm said...

And I hope you get them, June. xxoo

Happy Thanksgiving.

Susan said...

What a wonderful post. I love to make up stories like this. You would look fabulous in that robe.

Rosanne said...

It takes a good imagination to make a good writer. I hope you get your robe and slippers! :)

Freda said...

We're told that the stuff of good writing is all around us and you certainly know how to make use of it. I had a Chinese style kimona in nearly silk once. It made me very happy to wear it. Hope you get your aqua robe.

Charlene said...

The fascination of parallel lives is fodder for the imagination. A brilliant essay!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Other peoples lives , glimpsed though a window , always seem so perfect , so cosy .
This time of year , the top deck of a London bus is good to sit in at dusk if you like people-watching .

Lord Wellbourne said...

I do kinda the same thing when travelling after dark and look into the warmly lit houses as I pass by. Somehow my mind creates "The Walton's" lifestyles for all these Thomas Kincaid tableaus.

So, would you like your robe and slippers beaded?

Linda Myers said...

I can see her sitting there. Thank you for your words.

Carolynn said...

I work across the street from a cafe and on dark winter evenings, I gaze wistfully at the people who are leisurely enjoying a glass of wine before dinner at tables aglow with candlelight. It looks so cozy, relaxed, and prosperous to me.

Sounds like the robe should be on your Christmas wish list.

sallylwess said...

I loved this post! The long aqua robe the life you described sounds like something we would dream of when we were younger. The robe does still seem very alluring.

Han said...

What an interesting mind you held as a youth. Am imprint that you still aspire to - how powerful an aqua robe can be....

Hope the book is shaping up and the end is hoving into view - i have surrendered this last week to the trilogy of the girl with the dragon tatoo - who ever knew that the Swede's drank so much coffee???

Murr Brewster said...

I am wearing a long, aqua-colored robe right now. There is nothing spotless anywhere near me.

Isabelle said...

Isn't it funny how you kind of assume that people who live in spotless houses don't have to make the effort that you do yourself to achieve spotlessness?

Great to share your little flash of memory.

Pauline said...

How we long for what we imagine we can't have! And oh, those stories we make up! What did you imagine your own life would be like and has it come close? And further, what life do you imagine now, once you're in that aqua robe?

June said...

Pauline, those would be the "study guide" questions.
The answer to the last leads me to believe that in the end I would rather not have the robe and slippers; it could never live up to expectations.

Barb said...

Hi June, I have such a robe - mine is more turquoise than aqua, though. I bought it in China many many years ago. I never wear it - I prefer flannels. Now you've got me thinking that I'd make quite a striking impression if I wore it. Hmmmm... I think I'll hove myself up off the couch and see where it is in my closet. I hope your holiday was a good one.

Tracy said...

I was on Betsy's site and saw your name/photo which intrigued me so I stopped by for a visit. I love in your profile how you state you don't like people who talk about nothing...Hah! I have the same feeling. I am NOT a talker, but can write like there's no tomorrow...I've always wondered if that makes me odd! Words captivate me, chatter does not!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

You should be a writer, June.... What you did is what good writers do. They are creative ---and can make up stories after seeing one specific thing...

I'm not a writer AT ALL--but I always wonder who in the world lives in that house we pass going to Kroger's on Wednesdays. I watch that little house every week --and see TONS of cars parked there --and different people always coming and going.. They are hispanics --so I'm not sure how many 'live' in that house---but there must be a HUGE group (and the house is not large at all)..

Hugs,
Betsy

Window On The Prairie said...

Christmas is coming - hope you can get your robe and slippers.
Suzanne

Frank Baron said...

Wow!! You saw Donna Reed?!!!