Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Anais Nin and Kew Gardens - 95 Years Later

At my gym there are half a dozen tv screens that are in front of the tread mills and elliptical machines. CNN, ESPN, MSNBC and Bally Music Channel play constantly, and then one screen in the middle that loops pictures of healthy foods, exercise tips, and motivational quotes. One that I liked was by Anais Nin - "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." I had remembered hearing that she had lived in Kew Gardens and know embarrassingly little of her so tonight I decided to do some reading on her and found a great passage in her diary from 1914 when she first came to Kew Gardens with her mother. I thought her description of our neighborhood was really interesting to read some 95 years later and thought I'd share it with those of you who have not read it. Let it be a wake up to those who complain about this neighborhood and a reinforcement to those who care for it. (I would love to know what house her aunt Edelmira lived in if anyone knows.)
The Diaries of Anais Nin
August 12, 1914 Finally we reached home (Riverside Drive). It is a very beautiful house, I slept with my aunt. In the morning I got up, had a lovely bath, and at 9:30 we had a delicious breakfast of melon, hot rolls with a cup of hot chocolate, cornbread. Then I dressed and we took the train to Kew. It is beautiful! In the country, pretty houses with little gardens, flowers, small neat white streets. Among the houses was my aunt's home. My little cousin Nuna was at the door and in a few minutes we were friends. I made a little garden, I played, I swung in a swing and tried to ride a bicycle. I rediscovered my little house in Cuba, my dream, a villa surrounded by fields, flowers, a little garden, all with furniture, order, and something in all this that one cannot explain. I am writing this in my aunt's study. I think of my Grandmother, Barcelona, the trip, Brussels, Paris where my papa is, the war. And I say to myself that I want France to win. Maman, sings, I admire everything, I think to myself that I am in a forgein land, I watch my cousins and brothers playing, and finally I think I will leave my diary to go and play too. 

August 13, 1914
Description of heaven on earth. Green lawns strewn with flowers, tiny houses, little white roads neatly designed, a few trees, bright sunshine, small gardens full of flowers. My aunt Eddelmira's house is arranged in exquisite taste, with furniture, everything is small, nice, very clean and orderly. A swing, bicycles, a nice little girl cousin, a friendly boy cousin, a good kind aunt whom no one could help loving. I hate to say hurrah for Kew Gardens, hurrah for the house, hurrah for my aunt, hurrah for the flowers and the fields, hurrah for God who has sent us to this earthly Paradise. After thinking it over, how imperfect I am. Oh, how could I think for one moment of a heaven on earth. I do believe the fields of flowers intoxicated me and I wrote as though I were insane. I know only too well that there is no heaven on earth, much less in a country that is not my fatherland, with papa so far away and having to bear the pain leaving Barcelona. taken from - https://anaisnin.worldslegacy.com/en/My_Legacy


  1. The house can be seen at the following site: http://kewgardenshistory.com/ss-2-homes-0125.html.

    The quote from Nin's diary comes from the book 'Linotte,' p. 14. Please use that citation, since the anaisnin.worldslegacy site violates copyright laws by going beyond fair use quotations.


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