Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Anne (and Becky) of Green Gables

This is the picture on my old worn copy of Anne of Green Gables, so this is the picture I've always held in my mind of this starry-eyed girl. 

I have often and loudly expressed my love here for a little red headed girl named Anne Shirley.
A few weeks ago, my mom texted me that she was finally reading Anne of Green Gables. "I know why you love her," she said, "It's because you're exactly the same!"
She's sent me photos with entries from her journal from my childhood and teenage-years with the caption "Becky of Green Gables," where she's written funny, solemn, dramatic things I've said.
Yesterday, Grey said to Travis "You should try one of these muffins, Daddy. They're extremely delicious," and unbidden into my mind came Anne's little voice saying, "People tease me for using big words, but if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them." I love when my little people use big words, just as I used to.
Having never seen the Anne of Green Gables movies (Show? Miniseries? I'm not sure...) the entirety of my knowledge of that Anne-girl is based on Lucy Maud's little literary creature.
And the literary Anne and I are very, very similar. There are ever characters in books that you feel connected to, a kinship with, sympathy and understanding towards- but Anne is one of those characters that I understand completely. Opinionated, talkative and imaginative (sometimes to a fault!), dramatic, stubborn, sometimes easily-offended (for Anne it's the redhair thing, for me it's other stuff I can't bring myself to mention), and sometimes quick to laugh over sleights. Sometimes our tempers flare up, the smallest little grievances send us to bed weeping in the depths of despair, while some small piece of beautiful poetry, first green buds in the spring, or a pretty thought about something imaginary can give us thrills and leave us weeping again (though this time in joy and wonder at the beauty of the world.)
In Anne of Avonlea, Montgomery writes "Anne had never gotten over the habit of talking to herself."
And I laughed when I read it, because I too, have not gotten over that habit.
Everyday my kids say, "What Mom? What are you saying?" Or sometimes, "Mom, why did you say 'What have I done?'" (Or any number of things I may have said.) and I have to explain that I'm just talking to no one at all.
Anne and I have many habits that I find I haven't outgrown yet. Another is writing myself to sleep. While Anne laid in bed composing beautiful prayers, apologies, and stories: I fall asleep writing blog posts (like this one), planning elegant and spiritual things to say in my lessons at church, conducting conversations and speeches wherein I say extremely witty or moving things. (But nothing ever sounds as good when you think it all out a second time.) I often imagine myself into elaborate scenarios and find I can't get to sleep (hours go by!) because I need to successfully imagine my way out again! Sometimes, I inadvertently find myself imagining horrible things like the death of my husband or kidnap of my children and (like Anne and the Haunted Wood), I KNOW it's pretend, but now I can't stop thinking about it and fearing it.
I also find myself imagining a great deal, and the things I imagine are UNBEARABLY embarrassing. I don't want to tell you. But I shall, a little.

I will share one example. On a very, very regular basis (think almost every day), while i am making dinner, I imagine I hear a knock at the door.
Who is it? Why, it's Jamie Oliver! Hi Jamie! Come on in for dinner!
Jamie is obviously very impressed by the hand cooked dinner that I am making for my family. He peeks in my cupboards and is highly delighted by the lack of sugary cereals and high-fructose-corn-syrup snacks, and applauds me. Sometimes, my kids are there obediently eating their snack of local apples and fancy cheeses.
Sometimes, Jamie's wife and strangly-named children are there too and we all enjoy a delicious dinner together, which I made entirely up out of my own head and Jamie asks me how I seasoned it so deliciously.
This has many, many variations.
Sometimes, his TV crew is there. Sometimes, he quizzes my children on vegetables and they proudly shout "Artichokes! Eggplants! Beets!" when he asks them what each is.
Sometimes we are eating Chinese food takeout and my kids are crying on the floor yelling "I only ever want hotdogs and never never any fruit again." And my cupboards are full of Cap'n Crunch and I'm praying Jamie doesn't ask to see inside them.
And THOSE particular versions of my day dream are especially embarrassing. To me. And to Jamie. And to the Cap'n.
And yet, I just can't turn my imagination off. I can't simply make dinner without pretending that someone, somewhere is highly pleased and impressed by me- and I would probably be on TV if all was right with the world.
Because, Anne.
I am Anne.
One thing that Anne and I do not have in common, is that Anne seemed to have magically grown up and matured into a lovely woman by the time she was 16. Sure, she still is naive, sometimes her temper flares up, or her daydreams catch her off guard and she imagines the afternoon away sitting at a window, but she is generally responsible and kind and rarely gets into 'scrapes' anymore.
Sheesh. I am ten years past 16, and haven't quite grown up yet. I have an especially hard time turning off my mouth and my temper, and I still weep often and easily. Yet, I can only hope that someday- someday- I'll be a grown up, too. As it is, I often feel like I'm still just a fourteen year old girl who is unacceptably vain, just can't help but love pretty things, and has a bit of a "flair for the dramatic."

“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”

*a note: I was going to get out my book and properly look up quotes, but I have twins.
I really don't think anyone with twins can be expected to look up book quotes, now tell me. Do you think they can?

** a second note: As I finished writing this, I've thought of so many other things that I have in common with Anne. (The mere fact that I can't shut up about this idea might be an example.) Besides our penchant for hyperboles, (er... and big words), for loving things merely because they're pretty, for having wild and busy imaginations and loving books like a drunkard loves liquor:

1. We both have a fierce love and passion for our friends, and finding and maintaining friendships. I actually think that being a good is one of my "special skills." 
I'm good at remembering to call on birthdays, I'm good at engaging people in conversations, and I'm good at falling head over heels in love with many people around me and wanting to be bosom friends with many different people and support and serve them. I even have my own Diana Barry (but her name is Lauren). 

2. I found an amazing husband who is the perfect combination of men for Anne. A little bit of Gilbert Blithe and a little bit of Mathew Cuthbert.  He is passionate about improving the world around him, handsome, smart, funny, and engaging. Adventurous! Hardworking! (Did we mention handsome?) But, he also is often content to just listen to me, to let me talk and dream aloud, to support when I need it and just nod along when I don't need anything but an ear.  Just as Matthew was content to listen to Anne without contributing to conversations, sometimes Travis will call home from his travels and say, "You just talk to me, and don't make me do any talking."
Which actually usually suits me fine. I have a lot to say about this lovely old world, even if I never do anything exciting in it. 

3. Twins. Obviously. Need anymore be said on that?

Okay, Annes. Come out of the woodwork wherever you are. I could always use a few more kindred spirits. Fess up and tell me that you're out there and you, at least, don't think that I'm a crazy person. (Whatever, Josie Pye. Your opinion of us isn't important.)

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Mr. and Mrs. Hillarious said...

I'm pretty sure you "win" at being more like Anne than I am, but I've always imagined myself as her. I've got her determination to make something of myself. I've got her red hair. And I have a brunette bosom friend and we actually broke a bed right before she got married (like they do in the movie, I'm not sure it was in the book). I'm always enjoying the simple pleasures or the world around me.

Perhaps the reason you didn't magically grow up is because you need a minister's wife as your friend? ;)

But you like to quilt, so you did not inhereit Anne's dislike of patchwork. Though if she had a sewing machine it might not have been so bad.

Anne of Green Gables is definitely my all time favorite movie and very high on my list of favorite books!

Emily said...

You may call me Cordelia. :)

Lauren said...

I meant to comment on this when you first posted it. Oops.

In any case, I'm commenting now. I am honored to be your Diana.
And I love that you, my Anne, have twins. Remember how Anne felt raising all those twins? And then Davy and Dora?