It was in my first foray into the Twitterverse that I first encountered Duchess. It was obvious she was fictional, but the community she had developed around her persona was delightful, and once in awhile I felt brave enough to attempt to catch her eye. But then things in my life deteriorated a bit, and I had to leave social media for my own mental health.
When I returned this year, one of the first Twitter accounts I followed was Duchess. Her community, her wit, everything she said about the world in the quirky ways that she said it, I had to have it in my feed. If I was coming back to Twitter in the right way, to manage my online interactions better than I did the first time, then Duchess had to be a part of that.
I knew vaguely of her memoir, but June of last year was when I wasn’t really reading. I was working on my own book and mastering my fear of the pandemic. I was lucky to get through one book a month during that time and I wasn’t on any socials. If I had only known the comfort and joy it would have brought me, I would have read it immediately. But I was too deep in darkness to know, and I’m thankful that I made it out and found my way to this book now. The darkness is still there, I’ve just gotten better at navigating it.
So much of the misery and suffering in this life comes from feeling alone. Thinking that you are the only person who feels a certain way or is experiencing a certain thing. Knowing that even one other person is like you, has gone through something you have, is such a balm in this individualistic society. I think that Duchess and her followers, her community feel so amazing because we’ve lost what it means to be a community. To support each other. To entertain each other. We want what’s ours and damn the rest. Why would a random person on the internet who is purposefully anonymous talk to us?
Why wouldn’t she?
An anonymous woman, abandoned by her husband and the family and friends she thought were there for her, left with a son and a few good friends, reached out to the internet and said I am alone. Maybe you are too. Let’s be alone together. From that openness bloomed acceptance, kindness, respect, and a personality big enough to accept and entertain the world. This book gives the smallest glimpse as to where Duchess came from, and her origins will make you love her even more.
What other place is there to visit but Crooked Path when the husband and I are in classrooms and schools full of students in the middle of a pandemic? Smelling the rose gardens in my imagination and thinking of taking supper at Duchess’ manor is an excellent escape from the monotony of work and home on repeat. A few kind words on Twitter that remind me that I am not alone are a small light in the darkness that doesn’t seem to end.
If you don’t know Duchess Goldblatt and you are on Twitter you should go find her. Follow her and listen. You’ll know that you aren’t alone. Oh, and you should read her book too. 🙂
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