Ok, so maybe you saw the essay last week about the Vox Victorian couple living in Port Townsend who are glossing over the horrors of the Victorian era with a pleasant narrative about corsets, wool gym clothes and sponge baths? I have to come clean with it. These people are living in the home I lived in from the time I was born until I left for college.
Where they are ‘Victorianing’ in this photo, I’d ring in the holidays with family or play Nerf basketball (during that hellaciously dull era before smartphones) or excitedly press my nose against the window hopelessly searching for flakes of snow during the disappointingly temperate winter months.
The house was built in 1888, so they should like that part. It also had no insulation, so I hope they enjoy the authenticity of that part. When I grew up there we had a tiny wood stove in one corner room to heat the entire two stories (we replaced it with a gas stove only after I’d moved out). We didn’t have a dryer, so I’d dry my denim jeans by the wood stove during the night, which turned them into cardboard (yes, fabric softener was invented for a reason). There are few things less pleasant than stepping out of the shower into a 45-degree chill and then struggling to shove your legs through cold, stiff, and slightly damp cardboard jeans.
During the winter months, I had 50 blankets on my bed, and grew my hair out long in the back and huddled around the family cat for warmth. Family legend recalls that ice would form on the inside of the single pane windows at certain times of year. During breakfast on a gusty day, between mouthfuls of oats or wheat berries and goats milk, I could sometimes feel the wind actually blow through the windows and onto my face. When a large truck would drive by, every window in the house would rattle with a sound matched only by my chattering teeth – because it was so goddamned cold!
I thought everyone grew up with this experience, but when I indulged in central air for the first time, I rejoiced for this modern life.
I think it’s great that they’re super passionate about the Victorian era, and even admire what they do, but their belittling essays and interactions with the realtor during the house-selling process squelched my initial enthusiasm over having a couple of creative eccentrics taking over the reins at our old house. They also recently slammed the door on my sister’s face when she excitedly stopped by to introduce herself one day.
So if the world is cruel to them, it’s probably not because they dress up, it’s probably because they’re hangry from eating salted cod for breakfast, or because the corset is too tight or because they’re working out in wool underwear – or quite possibly it’s because they’re ********.
I think many people have suggested the latter comes across in her writing.
The world is often a reflection of how you treat others – and if she thinks the fine people of PT are grabby, groping bullies (which they aren’t), she probably needs to reflect on how she responds to genuine comments, questions and assorted queries. She claims people can’t follow their dreams because of modern society, but I’d argue that there’s never been a comparable time in human history to allow someone to follow their dreams.
A lot of that freedom comes from modern technologies like birth control, transportation, vaccines, unparalleled access to education, computers and smartphones in nearly every home – and despite her affinity for wool and whirligigs, she’s taking advantage of all of these modern amenities.
To that end, I take my hat off to you, m’lady.
Sarah is clearly a marketing genius, and I imagine she’ll score some additional media opportunities, speaking engagements and sell a fair amount of books from her personal branding and her viral content marketing campaign. The hipster intellectuals who drafted snarky responses (and of which, I thoroughly enjoyed) fell right into her marketing genius trap.
I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and surmise the attitude is part of the ruse as well.