I got to chaperon my daughter's field trip today. The weather was beautiful, the setting perfect for fall, the timing good for my work schedule. A perfect morning, really. I even learned some things I didn't know before. And when I say that, I don't mean, "Wow! What a surprise! There are still things I don't know!" I mean that the type of field trip it was is the type of vacation I took many, many times as a kid with my family: back to the 1800s.
1800s. 1700s. Even a little of the 1600s once you hit Jamestown.
I often feel I grew up in several different time periods. I can thank my parents' supply of antiques and their insatiable curiosity about history for that feeling. When I walk into a building or room housing handmade farming tools or patina-touched porcelain dolls or braided rugs or chipped ceramic bowls, I feel like I'm home. It calms me more than anything else I can think of, and I want to shoo everyone else away so I can just sit there for a while and pretend that's not a plane I hear overhead or telephone wires I see outside the warped-glass window.
I don't romanticize these bygone eras. I know they were dirty times, ugly times, dangerous, sweaty, and hard times. I don't wish someone would take away my dishwasher so I can use a dry sink instead. I don't wish someone would turn off the power and let me light a lamp. I don't wish for a high child mortality rate or tuberculosis or the re-emergence of petticoats and shoes that had no right or left. I just feel that as we've gained the advantages of inoculations and paved roads and indoor plumbing, we've managed to give up our need for our neighbors and the pleasure of aching muscles that come with work rather than working out. More importantly, we've given up the joy of sharing a room--and not just a house--with our families at the end of a day.
I don't want to go back to 1800. I simply miss it.