As we grieve together the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, my thoughts turn to Helene Hanff. How she would have loved to be in her beloved England at this sad yet historic time of mourning.
In 1952, despite Nora Doel's hopes that, "...if by any chance you can manage the fare to England next year for the Coronation, Mrs. Boulton will see that you have a bed," unfortunately Helene was unable to afford the trip to England.
On September 18th, 1952, Helene wrote to Frank Doel...
As generous as she was acerbic, Helene sent over a ham so Frank, his family and friends would be well-fed as they watched Queen Elizabeth II crowned at Westminster Abbey as she listened by radio from New York.
Ah, eccentricity! My lifelong passion. It began when I was a shellshocked twenty-two year old, afraid of everyone and living in a state of constant distress over Dad's shock cancer diagnosis, accompanying him to every chemo appointment, bearing his 'roid rage afterwards.
Eccentricity became my armor. It kept everyone at arm's length, just where I wanted them. I joked it really weeds out the riffraff. People give eccentrics a wide berth. Eccentricity started as my protection and soon segued into normalcy.
Here's the thing about eccentricity: If you do it mainly to attract attention, you're not truly eccentric.
If your eccentricity makes you self-conscious, you're not truly eccentric.
If it's perfectly normal to you, you're authentically eccentric.
If you delight that your eccentricity brings joy to others, but you don't do it for that reason, you're the genuine article.
But when you're a true eccentric, it's so normal to you, it doesn't feel like eccentricity anymore in which case...well, like adulthood itself, eccentricity is basically untenable but a fun untenable.
I'd rather write than eat.