I’ve always felt that perhaps I was born in the wrong era (for the record I was born at the very end of the 1970s), anyone else feel that way? I think this for a number of reasons which I’ll go into later, my problem is that I can’t decide which era I would have been better suited to.
I’ve always been drawn to the art deco style of the 20s and 30s and would love to have the money to trawl through second hand shops looking for treasures to furnish my imaginary art deco home. The highlight of my New Zealand trip many years ago wasn’t jumping out of a plane – which was pretty amazing – or tumbling headlong down Franz Joseph Glacier, but a small-town art deco festival we stumbled across purely by chance on the drive from Queenstown to Dunedin. Does anyone else remember the ABC TV series The House of Elliot – oh the fashion was too fabulous for words. But then again, I’m sure had I been around I would have been one of the many poor, struggling masses, women living in tiny homes with far too many children and far too little of pretty much everything else.
A few decades later I may well have found myself in a much better place. Homes were larger, children were fewer (for some anyway) and incomes were on the rise. I would still be stuck at home with the children though, not something I think I could do for good (despite being only weeks away from becoming a stay at home mother for the second time in recent years). On the plus side, I love gardening, cooking and aspire to be crafty (with only lack of time and talent stopping me on this last one), all activities that were enjoyed by the 50s housewife. I can see my husband out mowing our extensive lawn – front and back – and washing the car in the driveway with plenty of water as the kids play in the street and I bake something spectacular for afternoon tea with the neighbours. In reality, we have a tiny patch of lawn needing only a few pushes of the push-mower (though it’s pretty retro having one of those instead of a petrol mower I guess), water restrictions have meant the car hasn’t seen water in months and that’s always at the self-service car wash, the hoons in the street plus the addition of TV and computers means that kids stay inside or in backyards for the most part and I only know one neighbour who is so busy with her own family as well as studying that we struggle to catch up once a month – though I usually do bake something at times spectacular, but more often just ordinary.
I’m envious of those who were young adults of the 60s and 70s, with the great music, free love, new ways of seeing the world and ones place in it and the fashion was pretty awesome too. Women were really coming into their own, university life was exciting and vital (I currently work at a university and don’t find it either of these things) and social conscience was steadily rising. I’d like to think that I would have been involved in at least some of these movements. The parenting style of the 70s more closely resembles my own ideals than those of previous decades, with both mothers and fathers showing a physical and emotional closeness to their children and the old ideals of children being seen but not heard becoming a thing of the past. I can’t get enough of 1970s sitcoms – especially the English ones – and have visions of myself living in Manor houses or turning my backyard into an urban market garden (partially done already minus the livestock).
So where does all this leave me, a child of the eighties and nineties, and young adult in the naughties and a parent in the …. what exactly are we calling this new decade? Unfortunately without the invention of time travel (anyone read The Time Travellers Wife, some definite downsides to skipping through history!!) I will never know life in any other time, or what sort of person I would have been in a different era. I have decided instead to start this new stage of my life by taking the best of each decade and live The New Good Life (think classic 1970s television series for inspiration here).
And what has brought on this sudden examination of my life… a combination of probably the worst twelve months of my small family’s life and third trimester insomnia which sees me sitting up reading other people’s blogs and thinking about what it all means. With all these thoughts swirling around my mind in the early hours of the morning, keeping sleep even further from the realm of possibilities, I decided it was time to put another of my secret desires (that of being a writer) to the test and start a blog of my own. My intention here is to write about my own life and be inspired by my love of the past – Australian history in particular – to take on its best parts and indulge in a few of my passions along the way – cooking, gardening, reading, parenting and eventually (when I get back to it) teaching. I would hope that this blog is light-hearted and optimistic and that those of you who stumble across it would feel free to offer your own insights about bygone days (any era you like) and recommend ways I could get back to these simpler ways of living, be it through great novels, wonderful food, funny stories or anything else that strikes your fancy.