Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reality Check ...

The problem with reality is its realism.

I live in a writerly world, very much in my head. I'm always spinning stories and bits of dialogue and, with my fingers fluttering over the keyboard, can create whatever reality I choose. Only, I'm not creating reality. I'm creating fantasy. I'm painting a pretty picture of a life that will exist in two dimensions, not three.

Oh, that pesky third dimension.

Most people know what I'm talking about, most women especially. The disenchantment of which I speak typically reaches its peak at the holidays. Pictures in magazines or 15-second spots reveal a holiday ideal to which we all aspire: twinkling lights, glowing candles, a pleasant holiday din punctuated by bursts of laughter, a lavish buffet which looks pristine all night long.

The problem is, in a single frame or a few seconds shot on a set, we don't see all the preparation that had to happen to make it all real. We don't see the actors who will play the family members in the commercial arrive in their sweats, their faces make up-free. We don't see the food stylists painting the turkey with shoe polish to create the illusion of golden-brown perfection. We don't see the decorators adding layer after layer of detail to turn a basic set into holiday bliss.

We just see that one moment that ends up in the pages of a magazine.

No wonder reality is such a letdown.

Because most of us don't have people to make the holidays happen. Or any other day, for that matter. It's all up to us.

That's why staying at a hotel is so lovely. Staff members cater to your every whim. You don't have to do anything except pick up the phone and dial room service. Your room is clean (ideally), but you didn't have to clean it. Your bed is made, but you didn't have to make it. Your sheets are soft, but you didn't have to wash them. Your pillows are fluffed, but you didn't have to fluff them. It's all just there, done.

But at home, the jig is up.

With a winter storm in the forecast earlier this week, I went to the store one night to pick up provisions. I had visions in my head of being cozy, inside my house the next day, watching the snow fall, baking cookies, sipping coffee, reading, writing, napping.

And indeed, it snowed the next day, and indeed, I watched the snow fall. And I sipped coffee. And I read. And I wrote. I didn't nap. I did bake, eventually, but not before shoveling a lot of snow.

It was all pleasant in its way (well, except for the shoveling and the ensuing Advil I needed to pop), but you know what would have been even more pleasant? If someone was here to do it for me.

Not a spouse. This isn't a whiny treatise about wanting a man in my life. But it would be lovely if one of those hotel employees could have popped by to bake cookies for me and deliver them, with some freshly brewed coffee, to me, here, on the couch in the living room, while I clacked away on the keyboard, writing, or while I read, curled up under an afghan.

It's not a servant I seek. I don't want someone to do things for me all day, every day. I just want someone to appear in those moments when I think "You know what would make this moment perfect?" to make the moment perfect, and then disappear.

Perfection. I just want perfection. Is that too much to ask? (She asks, grinning, knowing full well that it's too much to ask.)

Not constant perfection. That would become dull. But occasional perfection. Every so often, I'd like my life to resemble those pictures in magazines.

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