Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunbursts and Marble Halls: Anne Shirley and Me

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven't you?"
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”

"I don't want sunbursts or marble halls.  I just want you.  You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it.  Sunbursts and marble halls may be all very well, but there is more scope for the imagination without them.  And as for the waiting, that doesn't matter.  We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other--and dreaming.  Oh, dreams will be very sweet now.'
“Do you know, Gilbert, there are times when I strongly suspect that I love you!”

In 1985 and 1987 CBC, released a television adaption of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables book series starring Kevin Sullivan, Megan Follows, and Colleen Dewhurst.  In Montgomery's novel, an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, send off for an orphan boy to work on their farm.  To Matthew's delight and Marilla's dismay, a talkative, melodramatic, bookworm named Anne Shirley is delivered to their home instead.  The rest of the series focuses on Anne's life and adventures in Prince Edward Island.  So why am I bringing up old Anne? Because she's awesome, that's why! Alright, I'll admit it.  As a child, I was obsessed with the series.  First, I begged my mother to tape every episode for me then, at the age of eight, I dove into Montgomery's books attempting to model myself after Anne.  She devoured books, faced trouble with "gumption", embarked on adventures, and met every challenge with a good quote.  Even Anne's insistence upon the correct spelling of her name delighted me.  She was Anne "with an e" and I  was Jenni "with an i".  Yep!  I was part of an entire generation of young women who wanted nothing more than watch their beloved suffer from scarlet fever.  To my young and addled brain, if a man really loved me he'd fall ill in order to fulfill my fantasy.  As he laid dying for my benefit, my beloved would hold my hand and say: "There could never be anybody for me but you."  Gawd, I was sick. Of course, I completely missed the point of Montgomery's novels: "The dreams that are dearest to my heart are right here."  In other words, its not fairy tale moments that make us happy.  Rather, its holding the hand right in front of you.

“I've been feeling a little blue - just a pale, elusive azure.”

“I am well in body though considerably rumpled up in spirit.” 

“She looked like a head-on collision between a fashion plate and a nightmare.”

Perhaps because its been a rough few months for Yours Truly, I've returned to the book series, whipping out old Anne Shirley quotes left and right.  On almost a daily basis I repeat: "My life is perfect graveyard of buried hopes" and "no amount of plum puffs can cure a mind diseased and a world crumbling into tiny pieces."  Of course, those are the wrong lines for me to be quoting.  They represent a short sighted and immature Anne who still romanticized loss and failed to value the gifts right in front of her.  In Miss Shirley's defense, age and experience does quite a bit to alter one's desires.  Because “It's all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it's not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”  Yes, indeed.  Real life strips sorrow of romance.  Loss is nothing at all like what I read about in drippy, day-dreamy books.  There is nothing pretty or enviable about it.  With that knowledge, like Montgomery, I've come to believe that "romance creeps to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways." And perhaps, its a fault of my personality, but I prefer the peacefulness of day to day life over grand adventures.  The "nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” Reading books, playing board games, and maybe someday knowing my heart is safe.  As always, my post lets everything show.  But my Friends, “I know I chatter on far too much... but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't. Give me SOME credit.”

Anne Shirley portraying the Lady of Shalott

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