Originally published on Blushing Hostess Entertains on November 3, 2009 and republished now by request, Contradictions. To the long-time reader who asked for it once again - my pleasure, I am humbled.
When I think of what we have been through, you and I: All those things we endured although we quietly appeared on this page and read about God knows what besides who we really were and what was really going on in our lives: Centerpieces, sterling. It is remarkable how much of ourselves remains uncovered on both sides of the monitor.
At times, those things I am compelled to cover because they are part of my niche, sometimes make me want to bounce off the walls with boredom. Because life is so much bigger than this and there is so much more to you and I.
Have you read Martha Stewart's work? She never diverges. Once in awhile she will give an interview and there is a sign that she is deeper and greater than the sum of all her irons, garden trowels, and cakes; none of that appears on the headers of Omnimedia. When she admits to being a cougar there is an outcry because she is assumed to be one-dimensional. But she is decidedly not.
There must be a misconception, generally, about women who keep well-appointed homes and are skilled domestically. Now, I will grant that I am young and consequently having the mantle of grand dame and task master hurled upon my shoulders is not appealing for the overtones of moth balls and wool crepe I sense in the accusation. Intentionally, I have walked a fine line here and the content is geared to keep my mind away from the campor because the "hostess" subject matter is inherently mined with the stuff, only it is pleasantly tagged as "tradition". I have lived at least long enough to know a lot of this skill is what a person has been taught or picked up and has little to do with gender or social strata. Furthermore, the fact that one knows how to polish glassware and get stains out of damask does not alone make her a dyed-in-the-wool church lady.
Between myself and the twenty-somethings reading though, there is a decided gap. If they are single, they can make the mistake of thinking they are a long way from where I stand today. A well appointed life has no boundaries: Genderless, ageless, timeless. Just because we were getting away with things in our college house does not mean we were less obligated. Ours at Providence had everything it should have, only it was slapped together; obviously more geared to affording to go out than to be at home among our stuff.
Nonetheless; good girls, from good homes, and had you come to dinner, you would have been well served. Even then. In a house where, mysteriously, every time my roommate went out at night, she came home missing a shoe (and we were grateful that was all). If you knew her, you would be nodding right now at her contradictions too. She, not unlike others in that house, is a cocktail of a girl: Polished, confident, sharp-tonged, fiercely bright, well put together, and privately, one of the edgiest people I know. All the good ones are.
The other day, when I talked you about tattoos, were there ever emails (and just a reminder to those souls: Hate is monetized, so keep it coming). Then I happened to be over at blog-friend LPC's page reading about her Doc Martens. And it occurred to me that there must be a misconception that we should write from a one-dimensional perspective and accept an if-then relationship with our subject matter: If I know about china patterns and centerpieces, then, I must be a starched grand-old girl? If I married a Naval officer of an old tradition, then I must be a girl who wears twinsets and pearls and never asks for too much for herself in this itinerant life of his?
Nothing and no one is a straight line but sometimes the shade from blog trees overhead might lead some to believe the writers here might be as easily explained-away as their general subject matter. The depth, layers, and scars of the person before us have always seemed so much more worthy of investigation than their dust jackets, for me.
Moreover, if you are going to read a blogger or a magablog for any period of time, chances are you need them to have had as many lives as a cat, ridden high and crashed and burned mightily, and known a few characters who made them, broke them, loved them, and hated them. Who could stand it if they just went on and on about china day in and day out without any color whatsoever?
The people in this world of mine are good and dangerous. They live amongst these missives. Willingly. Their choice is to be heralded and infamous on these pages by virtue of having decided not to miss out on this one life, and in turn, this one page. In a sense, now that we have you, all have agreed to the shadowy explanation that is Blushing. To put perfect clarity to the thing that is me, or her, or it, would cause us all to live in the blinding light of a less than perfect reality. You did not sign up for that, neither did we or they, in many ways. So we must agree: Parts of me, us, her, belong to you. The rest is in the air somewhere.
In parts, all here kind of know Blushing. But the truth is, "she" is a little something we tolerate when keeping it real might be too out of character for the readership's tolerence. But we are all coming about.
Here, let me explain for the fifteenth time that this is both hand painted and - excitingly! - dishwasher safe! I care about it, because I need to serve food, but I am not living and dying by it. No, no. I save that drama for grilled shrimp at Safe Harbor, which I would lay down my life to protect.
Before we go any further, then, it is best for all concerned to understand that this still-young life has been lived at a furious and sometimes wild pace. Unapologetically.
Contradictions within a person are what make the ride with them worth the time, and in the end, worth the fall. Martha Stewart is no less an authority on table setting because she sleeps with young guys, LPC is no less the high wasp for her Doc Martens, and I too am no less this hostess because I was inked when I was 22.
If I told you I was anything less than green with jealousy that our men's colleagues can own up to their experiences with vigor, acceptance (in most cases), and pride, I would be a bold faced liar (as I have told them ad nausea). At the same time, I like a woman's cloak of mystery, and when it comes to letting mine slip occasionally here so that we might know one another better, it is not my favorite sensation, admittedly.
I have not a clue where the balance is but I am also not losing sleep over placing it on this page accurately.
If you judged me for classically educated of a fine home, conservative, and reverent then you have me safely right on one count.
Welcome to The Blushing Hostess. Be advised, she is a real live girl.
Photos: Temporary quarters at Jacksonville, 2009.