Friday, December 26, 2008

Ask Clarissa

I have agreed to read Anna Karenina during my Christmas break. Lauren recommended it. Abigail, too. I am not a huge fan of fiction. I am not a fan at all. But Abigail says Anna Karenina is not what anyone could rightly call fiction. There is nothing of pretense about it.

But it’s a novel, I said.

And she said, it’s a commentary on family dynamics. On relationships. On the human condition. What is imaginary about that??

It’s actually her copy I packed in my suitcase when I drove home to Bakersfield. There are notes in the margins. In different shades of ink. Abigail says she learns something new every time she reads it.

Abigail has asked Lauren and I to rent rooms from her. I hardly know what to think. Her house is enormous. She has a housekeeper who has little jars of capers and shallots and saffron threads in the pantry. And the pantry is a room, did I mention that? She has gardeners and a man she pays to drive her around. Her house is bigger than the three houses I grew up in all put together.

Lauren is warming up to the idea. She says Abigail is waking up after years of reclusivity. She is lonely. She likes our company.

I don’t know. The room I’d have is something out of a magazine photo shoot. And Esperanza is an awesome cook. There’s just something about pretending I fit into that life that irks me. Lauren says it is no different than her having lived in a dorm with a shared bathroom the last year and a half. You don’t stop being who you are just because you change from sleeping on Kmart sheets to Egyptian cotton.

I am not sure she is right about that. And that’s what’s bothering me. Is she right? Who is not changed by their environment? Name someone.

I am not saying I would change for the worse if I lived in a house like that and had imported truffles tossed into my omelets. I am just saying I would change. And that has to be considered. Tell me I am wrong. . . If you can.


J-ME said...

I just finished reading the book and I am so glad to have found this blog! I think the girls should move in with Abigail - it would be a great experience for Clarissa, and good for Abigail, too.

Anonymous said...

I AM ONE WHO ISN'T CHANGED BY ENVIRONMENT. My core is intact. If Clarissa's is not - she needs the elderly woman's advice. Maybe vice versa.

Susan Meissner said...

Clarissa says she read this quote once by William James: "Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings." Clarissa agrees but she maintains that you cannot escape the influence of your environment, but you can certainly rise above its control. Clarissa also loves it when people comment on her posts! She loves dialoging with you. . .

Anonymous said...

I think Clarissa needs a bit of humility! Instead of seeing RICH = BAD, she needs to see that this is a lonely woman making a kind offer. She could learn a lot from Abigail and her life experiences and even learn some cooking from Esperanza!