I figured the end of 1955 and a year of changes was as good a place to talk about the sometimes feeling unnecessary world of flux. Change has always been inevitable for the human animal, for the world really. Though, we once, centuries ago, lived in the world that had an almost comforting static to it. We lit by candles for centuries, than oil. Fashions changed, but rather slowly as we had no means to know of the changes save through slow postal routes. Then the trains came and we found ourselves looking at time tables and taking trips that would take days in a few hours. Once the Industrial Revolution hit full speed by the end of the 19th century we never looked back. Two wars and a production boom afterwards left us so used to constant change, we felt it had always been a part of our lives. Today, change is so rapid, life itself so constantly turning over, we think little of it. A computer is ‘out of date’ in six months. Our cell phones last about as long. The tv must be bigger, now it must be flat screen, wait now we MUST have HD! Video games are evolving and a rapid rate so what we played with five years ago looks childish. Every six months, new and better and we toss aside the old and throw our money and hopes at the new, then next great thing…When will it all stop?! Is it good or bad?
There is a comfort and quiet calm in constancy. Though, in a way, it is a false sense of security for we cannot stop change. Every day we march one day closer to that ‘Great Equalizer’. Yet, while we are here, day to day, and in the moment, it does sometimes just feel good to stop. To look around us and think, “hmmm, do we need it all? Does my phone need to be a camera and a TV? Do I need to have a phone with me at all times? Why does it matter that I can buy everything at one place at an incredibly low price? Do I care about the consequences? Does any of it matter?”
These, of course, bring us to the root of the very philosophy of living. What does it all mean? What is the answer? I suppose, really, we can’t ever really know. But, we must know something and we do need to be here and in the moment.
We certainly want things, such as medicine to advance, but do we need to have and crave the constant flux of the modern world? Is there any comfort in always coveting and striving to obtain the new and tossing out the old? I am not sure. Weren’t we suppose to have MORE gadgets to make life EASIER so we could work LESS and just ENJOY LIFE? Yet, everyday are more and more things we NEED and cannot live without, so we are told. And of course we raise our children in this world, or sometimes the media, TV, and computer raise our kids and we all know what they want us to believe.
Exactly 365 days ago I woke up, shed my Uggs and jeans, put on my crinoline and girdle and thought, “Well, this’ll be an interesting diversion”. Little did I know then that the change I was eliciting was really a change of my entire world; a redub of the very fabric of my way of thinking and feeling and being. That was a change I was glad for. Though it began with my very modern sensibilities of ‘the therapy of shopping’ to find the best vintage this or that or how great it would be to own this, it slowly revealed to me the very framework in which our modern world was built was a shabby sham sort of way to live. To shop is to live; To buy to Be.
The more I looked back to those women of yesterday, the ladies I was trying to emulate in my vintage finds, the more I realized how much they were actually living. How they had made it through a Depression (which meant literally almost no food and making do unlike our ‘Recession’ where we were told to ‘shop to stimulate the economy’) and a World War and another war after that. Yet, they smiled, brushed themselves off, said goodbye to those who had fallen and never said, “Who is me, Look how hard I have it, I deserve some pity and some ME TIME”. Instead they made families and homes and dinners and kissed scraped knees and kissed husbands cheeks sending out the men not to war now but to the office. They laughed at dinner parties and thrilled at the latest gadget, all the while keeping their purse strings tight and setting aside their pin money so Johnny could get a new baseball mitt or Susie, her daughter, could go off to college.
These were real people who did not have it great but made it great. They took a barren lemon tree and made gallons of lemon aid. They have become, as many previous generations, object of respect and now true study. In our world of yesterday is old news, I want my new gadget, don’t trust anyone over 30, I have to stop and smile and look back. Thank goodness for the 1950’s. For they were there, on the pinnacle of what was to become the modern world and they said, “Yes, we can make a good world where people are free and treated fairly and we can trust and depend on one another”.
Tonight I dug out my old clothes. I put on the low rise jeans and the overpriced uggs; The jersey top and I stood before my looking glass. I thought I might cry or laugh, I wasn’t sure. But, there I stood an anachronism more now then back in Jan when I donned by 50’s garb for the first time. Had I become a joke of my former self? Was I now in costume or before in my girdle and petticoat? I don’t know. I found myself replacing those things with my handmade wool dress and girdle. I felt the comfort in my gloves and hat and pocketbook as I prepared to pop out to get some refreshments for tonight.
So, I thought standing in line, who am I now? Am I 50s gal? Am I that other person I left on the wayside those 365 days ago? Then, I spotted something. As I stood in the long Holiday line a young mother in jeans, rumpled hair and hoodie three times too big came in with her two young daughters. They were in their pajama bottoms and uggs. Their tops were similar hoodies and rather messed up. The older of the two girls, most likely around12, snarled at the world as she held that modern pose of the tween with her head bent as she mumbles into the tiny phone in her hand, her sleeves pulled over her hands and her loose fitting clothes hunching her poor posture all the more. The modern family: ‘comfort’ and slumped, together yet not talking to each other, mother as sloppy if not more so than daughters.
Then I noticed the littlest girl, maybe 8-9, kept looking at me. I figured, she was probably wondering why I was dressed like that, perhaps a freak. I had on my dress, hose and heels (despite the snow) my coat with the fur collar, my vintage matching dress gloves and my black hat with the veil. To me, I felt normal, comfortable. I shuddered when I recalled myself earlier in the Uggs and jeans.
I noticed the little girl smiled. She stood up straighter and fussed with her hair. I kid you not, she stood up and straightened her loose fitting hoody. Another woman, similar slovenly, smiled at me. When I left a young man actually rushed to hold the door for me. This was me. This is me. I am who I am because of what I have found and discovered from this year, but it is me. I am proud of myself and feel it is important to me and others that I am well groomed, that fashion means to me a way of expressing my moment. These fluctuating fleeting slips of days the slide off the calendar of our lives our mine and I am going to live as happily and as fully as I can in them.
So, now, here I am on the eve of either 1956 or 2010. But, which way is my calendar going to read? Well, after much thinking this is what I have come to decide:
In many ways I feel as if I have indeed lived in 1955 for the past year. Many habits and manners of my life, even speech and writing have changed. Yet, I feel so much that I want to share and take what 1955 has meant to me and bring it into the 21st century, but I also don’t want to let go of that beloved time. Therefore I have decided that my project should be this. Though it will take some suspending of belief, I am proposing I am, indeed, from 1955 and that I have been suddenly, without that aide of the normal passage of time, been transported here to 2010. The second decade of the 21st century. Yet, as it is important to me, I am allowing my self the ability to ‘travel’ back to the ‘new year of 1956’. I want to see what a 1955 middleclass homemaker will make of this new century. I want to see how the modern world will affect me. Will I want to take it all back in? Will I want the ease and easiness of passive entertainment? Will I find myself bored and see that I am happy continuing with the level of technology I have thus enjoyed? So, along with my blog, which will be my life as a 1955 woman in 2010 with easy trips back to 1956 for encouragement and continued learning, I want my website to be a part of this year’s project. It is very much in its infancy now. I have even begun to think of it much the way I would attacking a recipe or a sewing project. Look at it, dissect it, think about it, learn some more, read some more, then dive in and try it.
I want it to be an organic thing that will grow with me and you this year. I want it to be almost a child, I will set my hopes on it, but it most likely will want to go its own way and change and be influenced by others.
So, change; flux is it good or bad? We cannot hide from it, but at its current pace is it good or bad? Did we just about have it right in the 1950’s and now we need to try and reign it in? Do we want to go even further and have more faster and cheaper? Does the ultimate goal of cheapest at ANY cost really the main battle cry of modern man? I don’t know, but I want to find out. By looking to the past and even yesterday, can we find a comfort and happiness in a more static sort of life? Why buy new and cheap and better only to throw it away? Why not find an old technology and make it work for you? Do we need to be constantly amused or can we stop and amuse ourselves with a book or even by sitting and thinking and planning our own lives in the pattern we choose, but not what is dictated to us by mass media, advertising and corporate sponsorship? I don’t know. I have halted, in many ways, this rapid advancement and constant media connection for this past year of my life living in 1955 and found I was the happiest I have been. Can I live in a modern world as a 1956 woman and find my footing or will I be lured by the siren song of ‘new better faster cheaper NOW”?
So, if you are curious or want to join me in my challenges or perhaps you like to be amused, come along with me for the ride. I want the website to be a sort of learning and experiencing too where we can share and find old recipes, old technology, old thoughts and ideas all made new and comforting by the power we yield over their choice and implementation. I want it to be as my blog has been but to grow and expand more.
So, that is my coming project of 1956/2010, what do you think?
I DONT THINK A WOMANS PLACE IS IN THE HOME, I BELIEVE IT IS WHEREVE SHE CHOOSES TO MAKE IT. I DO BELIEVE IT IS A WOMAN’S RESPONSIBILITY TO DO HER BEST WITH INTELLIGENCE AND APLOMB ONCE IN THAT PLACE. It is our responsibility to be the best, think the hardest, learn the most and and teach by example as well as lesson. The modern woman Cannot go forward if she does not look back and pay homage and respect to those who have gone before. And just lip service IS a Disservice. We owe it to them, ourselves, and our daughters to emulate them as much as we can, learn their skills and then add our own intelligence and effort to them. Otherwise, who will the future generations have to look up to?
Thank you for listening to me this year. I have loved every minute of it and cherish all your words and thoughts. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and I am glad you have got to be a part of one of the best times of my life thus far. I hope we can make a better tomorrow.
Happy New Year (Website hopefully to come tomorrow)