I awakened today and found a gift had had been given to me during the night. The gift: a day that belongs entirely to me; seamless; to be shared or not as I like. Virginia Woolf’s line, ‘A free day, a perfect pearl‘ comes to mind. I google the line in order to attribute it properly. What comes up: 1) Wikiquotes/Virginia_Woolf 2) Love in the Second Act: True Stories of Romance, Midlife and Beyond – “I’d held his words in my hand like a lucky coin all day, until we met in his bed at 11 …and good fortune, with Virginia Woolf’s ‘a free day a perfect pearl’ ahead.'” This second item in my search happens to be a fragmented quote from my own book, originally published in 2006. I’m agog. Pleased, yes (as this book is soon to be reissued with a new introduction by TMI Press) but no help. I continue the search for attribution, finding tasty Virginia Woolf gems, but not the jewel I’m searching for. One tea and two coffees later, I’ve uncovered many uses of the word pearl by Woolf (Vita was a … ‘pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung’ ‘… a net one flings over some sea pearls…’ Eleanor finds Mrs. Levy’s daughter ‘…with her red cheeks and white pearls’ ‘Mr. Bacon is skeptical of the pearl’s authenticity…’ ‘Do you remember before the war you had gloves with pearl buttons?’) but not the right … uh, pearl.
This reminds me of the time I was researching Anne Frank Remembered in Holland. I was going over some materials with Miep Gies and her husband Jan. I’d mentioned their wedding attended by (I thought) the entire Frank family – Margot, Anne, Edith, Otto. Miep corrected me, “Only Anne and Otto were there. Mrs. Frank’s mother was sick and Margot and Edith stayed home to take care of her.” This couldn’t be true. I pointed out a photo taken by a street photographer showing Anne, Otto, Margot and several others. (Upper right hand group photo below.) They shook their heads. “Isn’t Margot one of the smiling woman to Otto’s left, slightly behind Anne, as repeatedly attributed in various sources,” I asked? They shook their heads again. “Now we will correct this mistake in our book,” Jan exclaimed. And we did.
Is this Virginia Woolf quote a Margot Frank-like misattribution? Am I copying my own mistakes… I’ll save this quandary for another, less pearly day. This one is still lustrous; still warm to the touch.