In my past life head space I am usually somewhere between “Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely,” and “Well, THAT would be unfortunate.” Regardless, though, that that place is not reality based. I’m fascinated, if not more than a little obsessed with the lifestyles of the rich and famous—two hundred or more years ago. But yes, indeed, it was also a trying time for the middle and lower classes back then, the majority (same as today really).
I read Pride and Prejudice again and become enraptured by the importance and intricacies of seasons—I don’t mean the weather. Period drama makes me I think of romantic, horse drawn, carriage rides on a cool day with a shawl over my lap; of dance cards filled with partners to promenade and whirl around with no more than twice in one evening, forgetting, of course, that likely, I would have been a wallflower or a servant, as I am of the fair sex but am not fair in complexion. And as I mentioned, I’m an introvert. Pfuh! Who fantasizes about being a scullery maid? Not I. Besides, it’s easy enough to skip over that minor fact; Ms. Austen’s world didn’t delve much into the lives of the help. Hmm, maybe a book idea there.
Anyway, I unrealistically persist in thinking of how I would manage my imaginary callers on a Tuesday afternoon; and of wholesome summer picnics, magically free of mosquitoes and critters. Just so you know, despite my make-believe family having to retrench (great word!), the sky would always be bright and sunny.
Then, when I close such a book, realism sets in and I wonder if I could live such a simple, seemingly perfect lifestyle. I usually end up thinking of another kind of soft spoken life; North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. The sky would be gray and gloomy, filled with industry smoke (or cotton fluff). There might be a decadent dinner party once per year and the rest time would be filled with running a household, perfecting embroidery, and taking naps all the while wearing a billowy gown. But, what an amazing life that would bet too. Maybe not.
The spectrum of life is so colorful and drab no matter what era … and I love it. I actually consider myself lucky to be right here in this time and place, where I can look back and dream and still look forward and imagine. It’s why I am generally a historical fiction reader and a science fiction writer. Blending and bending time is what currently drives my creativity. And complex, engaging characters make my stories relatable, since there is nothing simple about being human.