If you’re a woman who has ever gone out to drinks with three other women, chances are you’ve tried to decide who the “Carrie,” the “Charlotte,” the “Miranda” and the “Samantha” at that table are. Or I guess the kids today ask if they’re a “Hannah,” a “Marnie,” a “Shoshanna” or a “Jessa.” (Girls is still a thing right?)
It’s a pretty common conversation deciding who’s who in a group, or picking which character you most relate to. And oftentimes, that devolves into, “Well, I wish I was a Carrie, but I’m more of a Miranda,” and that sort of thing. This came to my mind and I started thinking about it on Sunday night when I was watching Downton Abbey.
My mom and love Downton, which really shouldn’t surprise anyone since it has all kinds of stuff that I’ve talked about loving before. It has soap opera plots, period settings, British-ness, and did I mention the soap opera plots? And this is one that I’ve always thought “I wish I was Mary or Sybill, but I’m totally Edith.”
I’m not the great beauty or the bold one who’s going to forge ahead against expectations. (Although Edith is starting to do that.) I’m the one who stays home and quietly builds her own life. I’m also the one who is kind of the worst sometimes. I mean, really, Edith can be the worst. But so can Mary. Anyway, I’m definitely an Edith but I definitely wish I could be a Sybil.
I mean, not the dying in childbirth part, but definitely the other stuff. Just like, being an Edith, I’m not actually looking to move to Germany with a married editor so that he can divorce his crazy wife, (soap opera plots!) but in spirit I feel much more like the girl who who was constantly overlooked and left at the altar than the one who wound up running away with the chauffeur or the one who gets the dream guy.
But I wish I could be a Sybil. I really do. As my friend Nancy Sue once said, “Of course! She’s the most social justicey!” Social Justice is a liberal Catholic buzzword that Nancy and I love to throw around, and basically means “helping people and changing the world while doing it.” Pope Francis loves Social Justice. I love Social Justice in theory, but I’m not very good at it, and Nancy loves Social Justice so much that she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and lived in community for a year. Nancy is totally a Sybil.
But I’m content to be an Edith, and open up my house to be a hospital and halfway house for wounded vets and keep things orderly.
Again, not literally. I’m not delusional.