DURING LUNCH TODAY, I was pondering on what to write about when I received a call that there was an Henri Bendel bag for me at the front desk. Deliveries are not unusual –– for my birthday two weeks ago, more than half a dozen flower arrangements, each extraordinarily special to me, promenaded up –– but I couldn’t imagine what it could be.
It turned out to be a gold cuff I’d purchased a week ago at Estate Jewels in Fort Greene, during a garden tea party that turned into a bacchanal that culminated in me being swept around the showroom in a Jazz Age waltz well past midnight by George, who shares my birthday (along with Beau Brummell and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire). We met when I dropped a very fine watch, and, to his shock, bought it. Sadly, I later lost it in a dive bar in Frankfurt after the face got caught on my fur wrap, but that’s a column for another week. Along with the aforementioned cuff, I found a beautiful old edition of Stella Gibbons’ Conference at Cold Comfort Farm, along with a note that I will receive its prequel once it’s back in stock at Greenlight Books in one week. Little does he know that I read it in April in London, curled up by the fire at a place that I shall remain resolutely furious at forever if it turns out that my Venetian painting is indeed misplaced for good.
I probably would have noticed that it hadn’t been shipped (or handed off to the right person in the first place) had I not been my usual devoted self, catering to everyone else’s needs and agenda so assiduously, and too often lately at the expense of my own. For my birthday, I had a marvelously expert tarot card reading by Katelan Foisy and she told me that I had to learn how to speak up for what I need. Here’s what I need, quoting myself from my favorite tweet, first uttered on June 8, 2010, and thought of again many times since: “I need a castle. And a summer of nothing.” What is it about the thought of a drafty, probably damp, almost certainly ramshackle place in the middle of nowhere that’s so appealing? I suppose just the idea that I would have the measure of solitude I so often crave, so essential to my sensibility. That, and a few spirited viewings of the film adaptation of I Capture the Castle. I recently read Eleanor Perenyi’s More Was Lost, her memoir of marrying a minor Eastern European aristocrat and repairing to his family pile, unfortunately in the interwar period and during a serious border dispute that put them on the losing side. The book, though, is exquisitely populated with portraits of the local eccentrics that made the whole period seem like a fairytale for her, both dark and light.
My favorite fairytale, though, would have to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If I had a mentor, she would be Titania. The other night, I wrote the proprietor of Paramount Vintage on Etsy to see if she could rush me a yellow flower crown in time for the solstice party I plan to attend on a Brooklyn rooftop tonight (I’ll wear it with the golden-ochre caftan I bought at JM Dry Goods in Austin last weekend, and sail across the East River by ferry, with a bottle or two of bubbly grabbed from the fridge on my way out). She, lovely stranger, said she would stay up and make one. With luck, it should arrive this afternoon.