Romanticism and Reality

First of all, let me say how happy I am that MY REVISIONS ARE DONE…for now anyway.  I got an unexpected reprieve from finishing them when out power went out in my neighborhood for a couple of hours last week.  I composed this post longhand while I was waiting for the lights to come back on.

I’m writing this at my grandmother’s table by candlelight while a light rain patters outside the open windows.  All that’s needed is the presence of my beloved in a swallowtail coat and knee breeches.

Alas, the comparison breaks down quickly.  I’m not writing with a quill dipped in ink, and my beloved does not own a set of Regency formal wear.  (Nor will I reveal the exact phrase with which he declined my suggestion that he acquire one.)  Nevertheless, the mood has shifted.  ‘A quiet night at home’ in the twenty-first century differs from its counterpart one or two hundred years ago.

Candlelight instead of electric light is only the surface difference.  The shadows come forward, flickering with the flame.  I had to adjust the candles so the shadows cast by my hand didn’t hide what I wrote.

We think electric and electronics are quiet, but that’s not the case.  The absence not just of the television, but of the hum of the fridge allows me to hear the noises they cover:  rain against house, the stealthy movements of our cats across the carpet as they stalk each other.  Through the open window, the almost still night carries voices from the street.  Not words, but the rhythm of a conversation and occasional laughter.

On the other hand, some things aren’t terribly romantic to think about at all.  I just went into the kitchen and couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to do dishes by hand in dim light.  Did the scullery maids miss a lot food particles? (Ew.)  And there were no really cold drinks before electric refrigeration!  Ice houses existed, but only for those who  had the space and money to build them and the energy or staff to fill them.  I’ve had my share of ‘fresh’ beer and soft drinks while traveling…it’s not the same.

The lights came on shortly after that, along with the blare of the TV and my daughter’s music.  I got a cold beer and put the dishes in the dishwasher.  Then I snuggled with my beloved, so I can’t say my romantic idyll ended.

What is more romantic to you?  A setting that reminds you of times past?  The here and now?  Or a fantasy world people with angels (fallen or not), vampires or a sexy beast or two?

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