Do you ever stare at an image or read about someone and feel that ache - like a watered-down lust - to be that person? It used to happen to me more often, this yearning, but now, not so much. Perhaps this is because I'm happier in myself, or more resigned to my life, or possibly just that I don't pore over magazines and newspapers in the way that I once did (although my Instagram habit provides ample opportunity for envying people's photogenic lives!). That said, twice in the last few months, I've felt that pang take hold of me; the sense that this other person has the life that I always wanted, and would maybe still like.
It begins with an image and some scant facts, and is padded out with fantasy:
She is standing in a doorway, smiling, with the sun shining on her wild hair. Her feet are bare and she is wearing blue denim overalls, rolled up over brown ankles. These are her work clothes. She is an artist - a potter - in her studio, a beautiful space full of inspiration and creations. Her tastes are simple and she is satisfied by simple things. She is also a mother, one who is fun and lighthearted and delights in nature. She loves her garden and makes wholesome food. She is always waiting to greet her kids, with something delicious to eat, when they come home from school. They like to join her in the studio and make alongside her. She is calm and happy and healthy and fulfilled.
She has the bright, intense eyes of someone who thinks deeply and seeks always to understand. Her hair is dark and tied back from her pale, milky skin. She wears red lipstick and an elegant black slip dress. Her pose suggests a serious person, someone who only speaks once she has carefully considered what she will say. She has a PhD from a famous university and several novels published; she writes book reviews and lectures at a university. Poetry is one of her great passions. Her house is uncluttered and stylish - "a grown-up house" - with a selection of art that they have acquired over the years, adorning the white walls. She is a mother - gentle, quiet and fair. She excels at reading bedtime stories and making sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be. Sophisticated and accomplished, she is the kind of mother to inspire a girl to believe she can achieve anything she wants to.
I think that these two women have been in my mind, in different guises, for a very long time. The problem is that I can't decide which woman I should be...