Poking around up at the local village today I had one of those shopping-glamour fits. You know the one, when just for a few seconds you feel you might be entitled to a gorgeous dress, long smooth legs, a beauty clinic face, shoes to die for, a crystal-and-candles restaurant dinner with a mysterious Someone, after which you sink into the the warmed leather seat (of the sort of car that has that sort of seat), look at one another meaningly and dot dot dot. These fantasies don’t last long because a) they’re a horrible cliché, and b) you remember that in fact you’re happy already, most of the time. You have plenty of serviceable clothes, even a few pretty ones, legs that work, a face that tells your own story, ten times as many shoes as you can wear at one time; and you recall that eating good food at home with favourite friends, with wine out of mismatched wine glasses, a fire, and a dog at your feet, is almost always far more delicious and satisfying than going Out.

It’s not hard to see where the glamorous notions come from; check out any magazine, TV ad, shop window, or (dare I say it?) certain Auckland suburbs, and you can quickly start to feel inadequately clad/wooed/fed/conveyed. Feed these images to the little girl inside who believes she’s destined to catch the eye/heart of a Hero/Prince, and you can trip yourself up any time.

Still, it doesn’t happen often now. I’m old enough to laugh at the illusion of the Other Life, to appreciate the great goodness of the people and circumstances I have already, and to know that a warm bum on a leather seat is no substitute for a warm, true and compatible man in a dented station wagon.

11 responses to “Chimera”

  1. Lovely to see you here, Em, and you of all people could carry off a tutu should you choose — and that’s the thing: once we can see, we can choose, all the way (well, quite a bit of it).

  2. Oh, and we come to see what loony items of clothing tutus are anyway. Letting all the cold air in, and making one look like a walking toilet brush. And tiaras – well! They’d catch in your hair, make you walk awkwardly, and surely fall off the minute you danced as sensually as any good music demands, or any fine catch worth his dented car and beehive would raise his eyebrows for….
    Money well not-spent, Pen!

  3. Claire, ‘the lumininosity … of unknowing’ is part of this conundrum which is gradually unraveling into light. These processes can’t be hurried — also sacred, I guess. Yes, I’ll miss the 67 (the number changes each time I count them)steps to sea level. A bayful of dolphins! this morning. With grated apple (meusli) on top.

  4. Dear Pen

    ‘To appreciate the great goodness of the people and circumstances I have already’ sounds like a find dictum to live by.

    Such a poignant piece this – which, for some unknown reason – brought to mind these words from a Sam Keen essay I read yesterday. . . “It’s the luminosity of darkness and unknowing that is, I think, the most human — and the most sacred — place of all.”

    Unrelated? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    I do love the image of you 64 steps above the ocean, surrounded by trees, grating an apple each morning for breakfast. I’m off to do that now.
    Love, C xo

  5. From precious to pernicious — you’re right, Melissa, and it takes decades before beam of truth fully illumines the dream, showing it to be just that. And yet, Pam, tender longings, they’re to be be cherished, too. You describe a delicate amalgamation.

  6. To beam the good of the homely and rusty aspects of now into the tenderest longingest parts of our heart. That is happiness. Thanks pen – a pleasure to wake up to your post. px

  7. Lovely, Pen. Oh, how pernicious that Little Princess dream is, attached at a vulnerable age, and never quite eradicated by the good things that do happen instead of the fairy tale. Your post is a reminder to forgive ourselves for still being in love with that story, and for pushing it away in the face of good health, good spouse, and many loving friends. Now, that’s riches! Without the tutu and tiara maybe, but oh! what riches.