The Time of Our Lives

The Time of Our Lives

One of our patterns at home is that later in the evening, the rest of the family has retired and it’s just Aileen and I in the living area, and we would like to watch a little more TV before bedtime. As I explained in another post years ago, when you are watching streaming video with your family, you need different shows for different subsets of people, since you can’t continue watching any particular show without everyone you started watching it with being around. The latest show that we’ve picked for when it’s just Aileen and I has been Downton Abbey. This is a show which Aileen had watched some of in the past, but I had never seen. I am typically about ten years behind pop culture trends, but that’s OK because everything is conveniently saved on the Internet now.

This show is a delightful historical drama, set in a country estate in the 1910s and 1920s, and depicts the lives of both the aristocratic family that lives there, and of their domestic servants. There was a similar show in the 1970s (remade in the 2010s) called Upstairs, Downstairs that was set in London in the same time period, but we haven’t watched that one.

Period elegance on the set of Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey, as far as I can tell, is historically accurate, and I enjoy recognizing historical moments and trends as they come up. I absolutely love the period costumes, especially the 1920s dresses – and, oh my, the automobiles – which are just gorgeous. The show is also quite sentimental, rather a bit of a soap opera, but that suits our late night viewing needs just fine. We’ve become very invested in the characters and their stories as we’ve blazed through the episodes (we’ve finished the last season already – good thing there are two movies to watch, too).

The show gives equal time to the aristocrats and to their servants, and focuses a lot on daily life. Yes, there are big differences in how characters live, depending on their economic class, but since we are binging the show so fast, I can’t help but notice how everyone, well – they just have their routines. Whatever their station in life, everyone just repeats the same behavioral patterns from episode to episode, only shifting into a new pattern if they experience a major life change, like a new position or a marriage.

Kind of like me, I think, as I go through my own routines. In my head I can hear the show’s opening theme, a stirring symphonic piece titled “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?” I’m not a servant getting breakfast ready for the household, or a countess being dressed properly by a lady’s maid before emerging from my chambers, but nonetheless I have my allotted role to play. Work from home computer guy, starts the day with coffee and the daily Quordle. Since the pandemic began, I am very much in the same pattern day to day, week to week. Not even switching jobs meant much of a change for me. Each week repeats the same cycle, another sweep of the second hand on the clock of life, ticking away to the last midnight.

It’s hard to believe it, but we’re already a third of the way through 2023. Did we binge the year too fast? Should we have tried to pace it better? The summer is almost upon us, though you wouldn’t know it from the cold rainy weather. I know it from the way some of our work is winding down. High school theater season has come to an end; there’s nothing left for the Philadelphia Independence Awards except for the awards ceremony itself. My work on Neil’s book is done. We need to get our garden planted – it’s a bit late, even for us. Did you know the kitchen gardens at Downton Abbey are quite impressive?

Our sweet sunshine kitty is holding on. Aileen is proud of her for staying with us, though it’s so hard for her to eat. We just keep giving her as much of the soft, pureed food as we can find. It’s clear that she wants to be with us, that she’s staying for love, and that we must make the most of it. What else is there to life? We’re just pushing through time, from one moment to the next, each inflection point marking out our story, until we get to the finale. How many seasons are left, and will we make the most of them?

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