Waiting to Depart…

4 12 2006


My travelling companion looks trim and elegant as she waits on the Queensland shore before our departure on the Grand Tour.

Why did I choose Edith Wharton as a companion – why did she choose me? I have long loved her books, and I was enchanted to learn that she wrote in bed until noon, tossing the sheets of paper on the floor as she finished each page.
She was not a woman of her time, but a woman who lived in her own time – here is a sample of her writing:

“You have hit upon the exact word; I was fond of him, yes, just as I was fond of my grandmother, and the house that I was born in, and my old nurse. Oh, I was fond of him, and we were counted a very happy couple. But I have sometimes thought that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing- room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.”

“And your husband,” asked the Spirit, after a pause, “never got beyond the family sitting-room?”

“Never,” she returned, impatiently; “and the worst of it was that he was quite content to remain there. He thought it perfectly beautiful, and sometimes, when he was admiring its commonplace furniture, insignificant as the chairs and tables of a hotel parlor, I felt like crying out to him: ‘Fool, will you never guess that close at hand are rooms full of treasures and wonders, such as the eye of man hath not seen, rooms that no step has crossed, but that might be yours to live in, could you but find the handle of the door?'”

Who would not want to travel with this woman? And why does she want to travel with me? I don’t know, she just smiles and says that the time is ripe for adventure, and leaping into the unknown off the Queensland coast seems like a great adventure.
We have discussed the places we want to visit – New Zealand, Tahiti, Egypt, Peru, Italy and Spain. Perhaps not in that order, and perhaps we will actually wander off our plan when other places of interest show themselves. We have a globe of the world, and we will will spin it to see where we go. For what is an adventure if there is no mystery, no chance?
So I hand her the globe and with one white, elegant hand, she spins…




4 responses

4 12 2006

a most enticing prospect, to explore a mansion of such rooms —
but, alas, I have visitors coming to the cabin


4 12 2006

wow! you are pulling me into this story – reeling me in – it is divine…

You wrote:
I was enchanted to learn that she wrote in bed until noon, tossing the sheets of paper on the floor as she finished each page

Now that is my kind of woman! In the morning I am in bed writing in my dream journal and my husband brings me a glass of juice and takes care of getting our son out of the house – leaving me a blessed morning of solitude. I always appreciate the time – even when I don’t use it as well as I “should.”

4 12 2006

The arch glance of Edith in the picture speaks as many volumes as her words that you quoted! You two will have an amazing adventure. Fabulous choice of companion!

31 01 2007

I love this excerpt! I have never read Wharton. A suggestion as to where to start? Something accessible and delicious. This is exciting, and I am pleased to have you leaving on the grand tour. I am making my way to Glastonbury at present. karen

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