Oh to be here.
February and a skiing holiday. Slopes in the morning with the children, fires to sit before all afternoon and cocktail parties every night.
Family friends not seen since before the war and some for not longer than that. Everyone shuffled from one house and country to another. Indeed, countries remade. At least two cousins ending up citizens of places that never existed except in someone’s head.
Interesting but hard, too. A new line where east meets west and places, things and people forever gone. Three estates and a place on the Dalmatian coast but only the ones in Innsbruck and Vienna left, the one up on the Baltic near Wittenbeck where Grandmother and her brothers and sisters learned to swim and sail forever gone. House still there but half-wrecked someone wrote and said.
But the people the same even if the rest isn’t. Old stories to share and the occasional manservant left to wax the skis.
Silver cocktail shakers shaped like penguins from when everyone had a hip flask before the rest of the money began to go.
A little left but only a squeak and a smile. Debutante daughters but in gowns from the shop instead of the dressmaker and a shared dinner at the big hotel. The same townhouse and the same dining room but half the silver gone and not wanting anyone to know. Impossible. The money needed to pay taxes. Two houses needed. Impossible to hold one’s head up otherwise.
Standing up a bit wobbly, but the photograph over the mantelpiece with the wolf’s head going all the way up to the ceiling taken down. A young man. Funny. All girls in the family but no. A memory. Great uncle’s godson. A little older but went to dancing school with the others. Must have not had too many dancing schools that year or he’d have learned to waltz somewhere else.
But a martini and another and another. Fuzzy enough and anything could be true. . .lost in time and the war against the tsar . .might have come back and gotten married . . . who knows . . . .better if you don’t.