I read my magazines backwards. I learned to do this by watching my mother, in her bed. She couldn’t sit still, so when we forced her to by begging her to watch a movie with us, she’d climb into bed, her socks off, knees up, and began to skip through the pages of her Glamour Magazine. I’d sometimes rub her feet with Kerri lotion and try to pick off her calluses. When I thought I was about to really make some progress, she’d yank her foot away from my warm hands with an “Ouch! That hurts!” Then she’d pinch her eyebrows together and allow me to continue. It was her way of communicating, “okay, but this time, be more gentle.” Then she’d go back to… I don’t know what she read in those magazines. I still don’t know. I don’t know the type of article that would keep her interest. I don’t know enough about my mother.
I know her as she is now, an adult who communicates with her adult daughter. I remember her as a mother who took care. Of everything. But I wonder what she read when she was my age, with two children. I wonder if she would have read my blog then. If she had the same fears or hopes. When I’m a mother, I hope to keep a journal for my children so they know… what was I reading when we were watching that movie all together? Was my mother reading about ten ways to thinner thighs or how to keep my father’s attention? Did she read my father’s horoscope looking for some insight? Did she read her own? I skip them completely, unless I’m at the nail salon with wet nails and stuck with the page. I think mothers should keep journals about being mothers, then give them to their children when they have their own… or when they’re at a crossroads, when they’re stewing in their own drama. It’s so nice to be reminded that the people you love have their own lives, and have for a long time before you came along.
I began to read my In Style tonight, from the back—because the front is all advertising and contents pages—and that’s when I lunged for my computer with my “what the fuck is that?” There it was: a lovely photo of a whitewashed brick living room, complete with fireplace and ottoman, fashioned to mimic a clothing store. Pools of natural light. Yellow miniature orchids in an over-sized vase, back-lit with a wall-length mirror. A Prada shoe box, studded belts, and beaded accessories are strewn throughout the room. The caption to the photo reads: Organize clothing and accessories by type for quick browsing; display jewelry on a mantel so it’s easy to see each piece.
If I had a mantle in my apartment—no, wait, if I had a fireplace in my apartment–I wouldn’t be adorning it with necklaces to swap. I’d kindle a fire and invite people over for wine and appetizers that looked like jewels, not clothes. In the Party Guide of the magazine they suggest, “come for brunch and shopping.” Then they suggest mood music for the shopping. Turn your home into “a full-service boutique… Arrange hyacinth bouquets in glass vases set in mini shopping bags. Set up a cereal bar…. Make a savory bread pudding.” Who does this? I love this idea, LOVE IT. I do. But who does this? Who has this cutesy, hair-flip of a life? I want this creative life, inviting friends to sell their clothes, pin up their jewels for sale while snacking on cookies, frosted to look like designer handbags and pointy shoes. It’s right up their with the perfect tree-decorating bash, or yeah, Oscar soiree. But if it came down to it, a shopping party (strange idea, notwithstanding) I wouldn’t know what to give up. “Who would want to wear that? I mean, sure it is too tight on me, but one day… Oh, and that. I can’t give away that. It was my mother’s. My own mother gave it to me because she no longer wanted it… but still.” More than that though, how do people get these lives? These glassine envelope, embossed pastel lives? I will never be one of these put-together women. Maybe everyone thinks that, thinks candy-coated lives are everywhere but here. Of course there’s no such thing, but sometimes it feels true. It’s all staging. Props. Settings. When it comes down to it, we all have clutter, don’t we? It’s why we thumb through magazines and Pottery Barn books (yes books!), constantly trying to fit order and neat into our sometimes-boring lives.