Friday, May 21, 2010

Rubbing Elbows With the Elite

I remember watching episodes of the television show “Dynasty” and being enthralled with the lives of the rich and famous. I used to wonder what it would be like to have the kind of wealth people like those characters had. If they wanted something, they simply got it – or had one of their servants pick it up. It was so at odds with the life I led.

This past week I got a chance to peek into that world. Mom and I volunteered at a fundraiser for the Grand Rapids Symphony called the Showhouse. One of the buildings on the Wilcox Estate was renovated by various area businesses and designers each took an area of the house to show their talent. For $20, you can go through the house and admire the beautiful furnishings, the likes of which will never grace my home.

While the Showhouse home speaks of elegance and wealth, it doesn’t compare with the affluence of the original Wilcox family. The renovated building was originally constructed as a community house for the family estate. It housed the garage for the five homes (the parents’ original home and the four children’s houses) on the estate, as well as gardener’s facilities, servants’ quarters, a squash court, indoor pool, and laundry facilities (a full-time laundress washed, dried and ironed for a different household each day of the week).

I can’t imagine belonging to that set. I see them in movies and television shows, and I read about them in books, but I just can’t imagine living in a world where there are people at your disposal to do everyday tasks like laundry, cooking and driving. It makes me wonder if books about wealthy people are based on the author’s experience. A long time ago an English author named Betty Neels painted fabulous word pictures of wealthy English families and the lucky women who married into them. From her biography, it seemed she described a world she knew a lot about.

Then again, not everyone who writes about murderers, vampires, and other worlds have actual life experiences in those worlds. And I don’t remember meeting any actual samurai soldiers. So I guess it comes down to research. If I have an affluent character, I’ll have to do a lot of reading and interviewing. Maybe I’ll have to befriend someone in that circle so I can describe it accurately! All in the name of research, of course.

I'm not complaining about my own way of life. I know there are a lot of people who wish they could enjoy the things I have. But I can't help being curious.

The community house is now the residence of an illustrious Grand Rapids attorney, who graciously allowed the Women’s Committee of the symphony to overtake his home for five months or so. What a great way to get a home makeover!

This is my favorite part of the house. Designer Jeffrey Roberts made this bedspread out of men's shirts found in thrift shops! The pillow shams feature the collars and cuffs. Maybe someday, when I finish all the projects I have started now ...

Goals update:

Health: Plateaued

Writing: Got 2000 new words on my samurai story, worked on my non-fiction story for Chicken Soup, and wrote this blog.

Creativity: Made some more quilt tops and went to the quilting group workshop at church.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend who is a cleaning woman, and whenever we see a huge house like that, I always say, "I would love to live there!" and she says, "I would love to clean that!" She must feel the same way you do, that it would be so weird to have a life like that.