Letter from My 48th Year (Jan 27)
I have been awake since 8, rising from a tangle of dreams that somehow involved me doing math problems. It’s been a few hours that I’ve been awake, yet I don’t yet feel awake, even after coffee and a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and muesli, which means the plague is still sapping my energy for its own nefarious ends.
I can’t actually see as I write this as I’m not wearing my glasses: I’m giving myself a facial. Just because I feel dull doesn’t mean my skin has to look dull, or something like that. After decades of not caring for my skin very well at all, I’ve become obsessed with face masks and facial serums (as well as mascaras and lipsticks). It’s not that I’m trying to fight off wrinkles and such—I’m sure I’m the only woman of a certain age who wishes she had crows feet at the corners of her eyes as a badge of cronish wisdom—but still, I would like to undo some of the damage, mainly old acne scars, that I inflicted on myself by taking an entirely careless attitude to my skin while I was blooming with youth.
And isn’t that what the 40s are about anyway—trying to mitigate, if not undo completely, the damage we’ve inflicted on ourselves, or others have inflicted on us, through sheer carelessness?
I am also trying to figure out how to say in Italian that I’m not feeling well and won’t be in conversation class today. It’s a simple sentence I can manage to send to my professor even without my glasses and I know I’m hesitating only because I don’t want to not be in Italian class today. But I’m trying to use some of that wisdom I tend to go on about, which is currently saying that, despite my restlessness I do, in fact, need at least one more good long day of alternating between the couch and the bed.
So it’s the last few episodes of Messr. Poirot and also delving into my collection of interior design books and dreaming of silk pillows and giltwood bric-a-brac and milkglass vases while I scheme how to reallocate my own treasures here and there throughout the apartment for a freshening up. According to William Morris, “If I were asked what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer, a beautiful House.” Or, in my case, an apartment.
My most pressing problem, now that I’ve moved a small three-shelf bookcase into the bedroom, is which books to move there. I think perhaps Madame Colette will be moving in there with me, though she’s apt to encourage me to get up to no good. It is hard not to be a scamp when you are under the influence of a woman who once said, “It was easy to give up the necessities of life, but how could one do without the luxuries?” Who knows what she will whisper into my unguarded ears as I sleep?
I’m thinking now that Colette and Sarton were such different women, Colette concerned with what lies beneath the voluptuousness of women, while Sarton was concerned with what lay beneath a woman’s repressiveness. (An oversimplification, I know.) Yet, they both were in a sort of thrall to their mothers and to their gardens, and once they’d stopped eyeing each other warily and once Colette mentioned how pretty the light was as it fell on the iris in Sarton’s plant window, they would have continued talking for days. Maybe that is a story to imagine one day.
Okay, it’s time to tackle that e-mail in Italian and then force myself to change my sheets before the umpteenth cup of tea, after which I really need to give this lethargy a stern talking to.
One last thing: am I the only one who thinks it odd that I’m studying Italian but Paris is the city of my dreams? Allora, it’s a puzzlement!