Do you ever start out to do one thing and then decide on something entirely different?
I was all set to write a post about post-war realism in literature and Emilie Loring’s decision to write entertaining, adventure/romance stories instead. In fact, I had the post fully written and only needed to select a few quotations and some photos to go with it. Then I started tinkering. This didn’t sound quite right. And was that really a good example, or should I try to find another? I’m sure I have an article somewhere with just the right point of view to add here, but where is it?
She sat down before the typewriter and resolutely kept her eyes from the window, that alluring window, beyond which the sea sparkled and beckoned, and outboards, scooting round the harbor like a flock of prehistoric waterfowl tempted her to join them. She opened her manuscript at the page where the story had stuck, read it, went back three chapters and read up to it again. The characters just wouldn’t carry on.
Give Me One Summer
In the living room, my husband is listening to a baseball game. Outside, the sun is shining, birds are splashing in their concrete pool, and the waterfall is gurgling. I’ve been at my computer for hours.
“You’ve barely scratched the surface of your mind. Dig in, gal dig in.”
Oh, Emilie, this time you’re a better woman than I. I’m going to take another tack.
This week, on our Facebook page, we got to chatting about Emilie’s short stories and how to find them. The short answer is that they are not collected in any one place, and some of the magazines that published them are not digitized–or, in some cases, even saved. I plan to add a listing to our Bookshelf, so you can look for them, too, but here’s the boost of one that I came across quite by accident in a stack of manuscripts. In this season of summer trips, maybe you can identify:
“My First Real Vacation” by Josephine Story (1920)
Of course there have been vacations with the family, but that sort of change is only near-rest. There is planning to be done for each person in the party, the confusion of packing, a certain amount of “Why, Mother! of course, I need that!” friction, and then there is always the house to be closed. Result–when the luggage is tagged, strapped and ready, my enthusiasm is like a blown-out tire, flat; my one consuming desire being to crawl off into a corner and rest.
When I do get away, I am so anxious that my beloveds shall appear to the best advantage and make the friends they so royally deserve, that I have the maddening effect of a thorn in the flesh. I make suggestions and corrections till relations all around become slightly strained, to put it mildly. Besides, it is somewhat difficult to be witty, daring or fascinating if conscious of the critical, alert eyes and ears of one’s family, especially if said family is blessed with a sense of humor. “Never again!” I vowed when I reached home after the last so-called vacation.
That decision was epoch-making. The young people are now old enough to go away with friends. They must begin to feel more responsibility. So I encouraged the children to plan for the kind of outing each one wanted, which they promptly did.
Last July my husband attended the annual convention of men in his line of business. He had never gone before. There had not been money to take us both, and he would not go without me. He protested this time, but I made him realize the inspiration and incentive it would be for him to meet men from all over the country, and what a wealth of new ideas he could bring home.
I keep no maid, but for this vacation of mine I engaged a capable woman. I missed the family, but I knew that each member of it was doing what he or she wanted to do. That thought banished my loneliness. I began to rest the moment I was alone.
I reveled in doing the things I could not do when the family was at home. I rose when the spirit moved. The maid brought my breakfast when I rang and placed it by the cool, shadowy window. I dressed leisurely. I massaged and manicured. I brushed my hair till it shone. Cool and dainty I read the morning paper.
Dressed for the day I commandeered the motorcar; I rarely had a chance at that when the young people were at home. Perhaps I would go to town, blissfully conscious that I could stay as long as I liked. I browsed round sales, window-shopped, took in theatre or movies, saw worth-while pictures. Occasionally I dined with friends.
For the first time in years I enjoyed the freedom of sitting up as late as I like over a book, or, better still, indulged in that nerve-soothing pastime of reading in bed.
I had old friends to lunch and dinner with me. You know the variety–the kind you refrain from having when the family is at home because the children protest, “Oh, don’t have her! She’s such a bore!” I had the things I like to eat; usually I cater for the others. I had delicacies which would have been prohibitive for five, but for one–that was different. The records which I put on the phonograph were the ones I enjoyed. I wore earrings! That isn’t as silly as it sounds–it’s symbolic. Those earrings stood for the things which I had been “Why, Mother!”-ed out of wearing. Don’t think that my family is more inconsiderate than most, it merely forgets that Mother has very human likes and dislikes, that the rule of “live and let live” is a mighty comfortable one to keep in daily operation.
By the time the vacationers returned I was physically rejuvenated, mentally refreshed and was viewing things in their right proportions, the small things small and the large things large. I had formulated plans for co-operation which would give me more leisure. I was tinglingly eager to welcome my beloveds. I knew that my experiment in a real vacation had proved something when my big boy exclaimed, as he smothered me in a bear-hug.
“Why, Mother! How pretty, how young you look!”
Thanks, Emilie. We’ll catch up with twentieth-century realism vs. entertaining adventure/romance another time–Oh gosh! Maybe I’ve just written it after all. 🙂
I’m headed out for a walk in the sunshine. Have a great week, everyone! Don’t forget about our garden tea party on July 6th!