If you ever get the opportunity to spend the summer in an ancestral country home as a reprieve from the anxieties of city life, you should do it. Even if you think it’s haunted. Even if it isn’t really your choice. After all, you only live once.
Love like you’ve never been imprisoned by your overbearing husband. Eat like this is the last meal he will let the maid bring up to you before you have to come down and be pleasant in front of company. Behave like they haven’t invented vibrators as a cure for hysteria yet. There are no second chances, only second-class genders. Dance like no one is watching, except the woman who is trapped behind your wallpaper pattern.
When life gives you lemons, get rid of them, quick!—they’re too close to the color of that goddamned wallpaper. When life gives you lemonade, or the maid brings you lemonade to wash down your hourly medicine capsules, fill your chamber pot to the fullest. There’s no time like the present, and no present like a healthy bladder. When your husband is your physician you certainly don’t want to get a UTI.
When your husband closes a door he also closes the windows. The old ball and chain is getting heavier every day. You need to get out of this room. Tell your husband you want to work like you don’t need the money. If all he says is “you don’t need the money, dear” and “stop gnawing on the bedposts,” take this opportunity to get some writing done. Write like no one will ever find your journal. But make sure to write like no one is reading when no one is watching. That nosy maid is two sleeves short of a straightjacket. A journal in the hand is worth two hidden in the bush.
Take time to smell the flowers, if you can even smell them over the putrid odor of that wallpaper. At least look out the window at the beautiful garden and the sprawling lawns that you can’t get to. A friend is someone who will bail you out of your domestic prison. A husband is someone who will tell you you’re delusional and the chains are there for your own good. The grass is always greener outside of the asylum. Time waits for no one. But thyme waits for the gardener to pick it. When the gardener looks up toward your attic room, flail your arms around and call out to him for help. He has the master keys. He could let you out of here. Or at least get you a shovel or spade to scrape the god-forsaken pattern off the walls. Even if he doesn’t hear you, scream like no one is listening. Then scream because no one is listening.
Live like it’s your last day on earth before you jump out the window, if you could just get those pesky bars out of way. Otherwise you better live like it’s your last day in this country house because your husband is going to send you to an institution. Tell him you’re ready to go home. Actions speak louder than words, especially if those actions are to rearrange all the antique furniture until you are debilitated. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have challenged the paternalistic ideals of your husband’s sham profession.
Never give up on your dreams—even if those dreams are filled with the frenetic wailings of the woman who is stuck behind the brocade bars of your wallpaper. You can sleep when you’re dead. Or you could sleep at night and spend the day plotting your escape. It’s time to Carpe Diem. Seize the day, because that’s when your husband is out tending to his patients and you can do whatever you want. Better yet, Carpe Wallpaper. No one is going to free that woman trapped in there but you. Dig your nails in. Get your hands dirty. Rip all the wallpaper down and roll around in the torn remnants on your floor. Laugh like it’s not totally demented.
If your husband comes home, breaks down the door and collapses in shock on the floor in front of you, but you’re already crawling on all fours, does anybody hear him? Don’t let his crumpled body, or anything else, get in your way. Crawl right over him and out the door to your freedom. Because YOLO.