I spent the day washing and ironing hankies and I still have a bunch more to do. I couldn’t help thinking of the book The Painted Girls by Cathy Buchanan. It’s a historical novel about the girl who modeled for Degas’ sculpture The Little Dancer, Aged 14. (It’s the famous bronze of the ballerina with the real tulle skirt). One of the many jobs she had besides modeling was working in a laundry ironing.
My back hurts, and an iron warmed up all day gives off more heat than I would have guessed. I thought of 14-year-old Marie, slaving away in an 1870’s Paris laundry, hiding the shirt she burned when she was learning how to iron. I guess I always relate to characters like Marie in novels. Few options by tedious, physically demanding, unsatisfying work, the model, instead of the artist. What my life could so easily have been.
Ironing hankies all day, keeps me humble and grateful for my life and work.