RH

My mother has an art degree and has traveled the world. She is very bright and quite astute and is naturally talented at interior design, but being from an area of the US that has a sub-culture that highly despises “pretension” even among its elite she pretends to be much more ignorant than she is.

Yes. It’s Mother’s Day and that’s my opening paragraph.

When I talked with her today she wanted gush and tell me all about a “new” (bourgeois) store she recently visited that she called “RH”. She’s been to Restoration Hardware before. I humored her.

The thing is it gets old. People who had parents who sent them to the Middle East on vacation in the 1970’s after finishing an art degree aren’t “down home” the way some people are. But most of her family very much sees themselves that way and internalizes the idea that to appear otherwise openly (you can be subversive about it) is slightly evil. Certainly not good. It’s a family culture rooted in Scandinavian and pioneer ruggedness that has its finer more admirable moments and there is a real, endearing humility to it but it’s hard to maintain that façade constantly. Unless you’re invested in it. I never have been.

After being in a bubble until my mid 20’s I slowly began to realize how other people would perceive her family. I also began to realize how being raised in her family had affected me and how I presented myself.

Some are intimidated by her family because they feel beaten at their own “I hate pretension” game by people who could be rightfully “pretentious”. But I can’t stand that dynamic. Other people (mostly from larger coastal cities or who have been influenced by US coastal thought) see them foolishly as “country folk”. To that I just shrug my shoulders. Whatever. They are country in a way. Other people… Well…maybe that’s about it. There are almost no other views. We’re not a world that easily tolerates diversity of thought anymore.

Yet, I’m not like them, for better or worse, and they’ve never been particularly pleased by that. I have a few people I keep in touch with but most people are and always have been suspicious of my lack of an accent, genuine, proud and open interest in the opera and innate “feisty” and “intense” personality. “Maybe she’s like so and so.” (Someone with an anger problem or who was seen as difficult or bossy.)

It’s been an unpleasant Mother’s Day so far. I’m glad I’m alive as a mom. We all just lived through a pandemic. A lot of kids lost their damn moms… It’s vile. I feel incredibly fortunate I’m not watching my kids from the other side. But…it’s been challenging. A lot of people are rude and self-focused these days (not just parents) and if you’re like that back to them they often only see their own side. How can someone who’s privileged be so unaware of their privilege even if they’re mostly bullied by asshats most of their life who have psychological issues? I mean! Wow. It’s so weird right? It’s my job to make ALL of YOU feel good. Constantly! Right?!

Eww. Look for the quiet, “timid” and pretty one who seems unaware of it and crap on her with all your problems or issues in whatever way you feel entitled to (sometime by an imaginary God different than the one who cares about me too) until you feel high as a kite.

If it feels good do it! Right?! Perfect logic.

Yes, my blog did just get dark. Oh well.

Next year, like my birthday for the past 27 years, I’ll just forget Mother’s Day exists in my life. Not because my kids aren’t amazing. They are. They are fucking amazing. But because everyone else (not my kids) I know well (other than maybe a previous few people) makes it difficult to celebrate.

And that’s my mommy blogger moment. Now back to prettier things…

Manhattan In The Spring

My photo of Battery Park from 2004

In an Honors Program course in college we studied New York City. Everything about it. It was probably my favorite class ever.

As an end to the class we all visited New York City and stayed in a lovely old apartment building from the early 1900’s or so on Park Avenue. It felt haunted but only in a way that was actually quite comforting. The room I slept in smelled a little like vintage Je Reviens.

I become speechless when I recall everything we did while we were there as it was all so thought-provoking and emotionally stirring I’m still processing it all. All the plays. The restaurants. The art. The history.

I loved it.

Of course that wasn’t my only visit to the city but it was the most memorable. By far.

When it was time to leave we walked, as a class, toward the subway to go to the airport and I remember thinking, “I’ll go down those stairs to the subway, get on that train and then all of this will disappear.” It was nice to think of wide open spaces returning to view and yet it was also deeply unnerving. I felt like I was leaving someone behind.

Today, as I was recalling this visit as it was around this time of the year, I vaguely remembered an image that flew into my mind as we left. I’ve loved history since childhood so, at the time, I assumed it was just my imagination going wild with things I’d read or seen somewhere. But I saw an image of a young man around my age who seemed like a real person, maybe a few years older, and just today I remember the way he looked and the feeling I had that he would have wanted to take me sight-seeing around the city for much longer. It felt that if he existed that he wouldn’t have wanted me to leave… Not just yet.

Glasses and a well-fitting khaki trench coat. Intelligent. Elegant. And no, I’m not just describing a handsome man. Ha! It felt like he was from the early half of the 20th Century. Artistic but logical… Emotional. Serious. Clean-shaven.

I felt pulled at… But we were all leaving. I didn’t have a real choice to stay.

It was romantic, it was bizarre and it seemed quite otherworldly. It felt as if my heart was being torn at by leaving. As if I belonged there with him whoever he was. Almost like a permanent girlfriend for eternity. Taking in shows. Having fun. He was angry I was leaving.

I thought it was my imagination.

I find the odd, unsettling memory lovely today and I hope, if he was a ghost stuck in some purgatorial state that he’s not terribly lonely. Perhaps long into the future I can return to a city that I hope still exists… It’s changed so much already. But it always changes… So there’s hope? And we can finally go see whatever it was he wanted to show me.