Already the first day of March has passed, whisked away by a cold lion’s breath of wind blowing across a cloudless sky. It was taken up with purely normal, routine events ~ attending church, Sunday lunch with my mother, some errands and shopping, and then a lovely interlude of lying on the couch with my book.
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s novel published in 1925, is the beautifully rendered portrait of a single day in a woman’s life, a woman not unlike myself in many ways. And so reading this novel, which was revolutionary in its time, is a bit like entering my own mind. As Clarissa Dalloway goes about her daily tasks in preparation for a party she’s giving, swirling through her mind are memories of her youth, thoughts about her solid and rather predictable marriage, concerns about her grown daughter, and somewhat fearful projections about the onset of old age and the inevitability of death.
The book as a whole makes me think of a map of the human mind – as if one could draw it off in sections and label each part…the husband, the child, memories of first love, regrets about roads not taken, fears about the future…while sprinkled over top of these complex layers of thought are the the mundane moments…buying flowers for the party (Clarissa) or wandering through Target in search of plastic containers for salad (me).
So there is something very touching about this book, and I feel a strange kinship with Clarissa Dalloway, even though she lives in London in the aftermath of the first World War, and I live in the States, in a country caught up in crises of its own. For though we are decades apart in time and experience, our days are remarkably the same.
Is “a woman’s day” worthy to be the subject of a novel? That was a big question in 1925, when novels were meant to take on theme’s of epic proportion. And yet, here we are, nearly 100 years later, still reading and relating to Mrs. Dalloway, her fears, her confusions, her small pleasures. Obviously, this woman’s day is relevant to many of us.
My day is nearing it’s end. Sunday evenings are always rather quiet for me. My husband is out, attending rehearsal for Measure for Measure, the men’s chorus he belongs to. The dogs and I have the house to ourselves for several hours, and that’s not an un-welcome rarity these days. I’ve spent some time at the piano, dutifully practicing for the community theater musical I’m accompanying, and then poured myself a glass of wine and settled in to catch up with you and your Sunday reading. You see, I quite like to read about women’s days, for in their way, they are a composite of life.
Now tell me, what was your day like?