Barrington is my travelling companion, of course.

She’s absolutely smashing at it. Just frightfully efficient. One doesn’t know what one did before she was here to take care of it all.

Today she is doing up my valise and hat boxes and such, in preparation for our ocean liner voyage tomorrow.

To Denver. Yes. My, the places one can travel to by ocean liner these days. This truly is an era of Progress, wouldn’t you say?

Barrington is so good at these things. So very competent.

Dashedly competent!


The world in which Barrington and I live is kind of a mash-up between the world of say, a Marx Brothers film, an Agatha Christie novel, and socialites aboard the Titanic*.

* Except not the Titanic, of course, because our travels are always highly amusing but without any unpleasantness to speak of.

With some Gilbert & Sullivan thrown in for good measure, because often as not it turns out that Barrington and I are actually twins separated at birth and reunited.

Or possibly we were switched at birth, and actually I am meant to be her travelling companion. Which sometimes I am. Do you see? Never mind. It doesn’t matter.

The times change. Sometimes it’s more 1910-ish, and other times it’s already the early forties. When it’s earlier, we get to be secret suffragettes and wear bloomers in our staterooms! As the century progresses, we sometimes get to be spies. Or disguised anarchist rabble-rousers.

We get to be British, of course.

Mainly so I can say Rawther. And Quite.

I refer to things as being smashing, and amuse myself with my terrible attempt at a posh accent.

I will also throw in other British pronunciations of words which amuse me, no matter how irrelevant to whatever I happen to be speaking about at the time.

Zebra! Goulash! The cha cha!

Barrington and I get on ever so well.

You’d think that might be odd given that I’m her employer.

But of course we are secret cousins or best friends or lovers or who knows, so all that is just an act.

She calls me Brooks. Not in public, of course. Then I am Her Ladyship. But privately. Or sometimes under her breath, and we try not to collapse in giggles.

And sometimes we both call each other Rosie! I can’t tell you why. Or Old Thing. We have fun.

Brooks and Barrington, Barrington and Brooks! Partners in crime.

Sometimes Barrington is Barrington, and sometimes I am Barrington. Either way, it’s very useful.

Today, for example.

Barrington is in charge of packing. Which is perfect because I quite loathe packing, and of course she does a ripping good job.

So today I am Barrington, and this is the best and sneakiest plan in the entire history of sneaky plans, because Barrington does not have any of my monsters.

Barrington has decided what I am going to wear each day.

If I were to try something like that without her, my monsters would have a field day.

“Really? Could you be any more boring? What happened to the fun, crazy, up-for-anything girl who moved to Berlin based on a hunch? Packing?! Lists?! Next thing you know, you’ll be driving a mini-van. To soccer practice! Mom-jeans. Inspirational quotes on sweatshirts. We need to stop this self-care bullshit now before you lose your freedom and forget how to be fabulous. Code Red! Shut all systems down! No planning ever or it will be the end of you!”

But Barrington lives in a world where mini-vans do not exist, so this is not an immediate danger. Also she is delightfully immune to monsters. Mine and in general.

This means she can do all sorts of things to take care of me and make my life easier, without anyone objecting.

It’s another form of embarking.

Instead of leaving presents for slightly future me, Barrington leaves them for me.

And when I am Barrington, I am leaving them for Brooks. Which is part of my job description and also something I enjoy.

I can plant all sorts of delightful surprises for this person I love, without any of the guilt, the objections, or the usual accusations of Shameful Extravagance coming from the Collective.

What is Barrington up to today?

All sorts of things that I would never do for myself. Either because I wouldn’t remember or I’d deem it unimportant.

She’s already printed out the brackets for Championships as well as a list of everyone who is coming to my workshop in Boulder on Thursday.

She’s downloaded the exact-right books to my phone for reading on the plane.

Itineraries, clothing, special bags, snacks. Barrington does it all!

And she knows why it’s important, whereas I tend to forget to take care of myself-from-now and me-of-next-week.

Sometimes I make lists of things I secretly wish Barrington might do (and then she does!).

Sometimes I make lists of things that I, as Barrington, feel moved to do for Brooks.

Sometimes we put fascinators in our hair and frolic around the room.

Play! And how things work in the spacious commenting blanket fort.

If you had your own travelling companion or personal secretary, what would he or she be up to today?

Or what would you do for your person if you got to be the companion? What would you like to have ready for you for the next voyage? Internal voyages count too.

If you like, you can whisper-share here. Or declare silent retreat, which is always okay.

What I would love:

Entertaining phrases that Barrington and I can use. Or things we might say. Like: “sharp as a tack!”

(Not invited: critique of the world that Barrington and I inhabit. I don’t especially care about plot holes, anachronisms, or if anyone is worried about my many personalities, as sometimes happens. Barrington can confirm that I’m delightfully eccentric, and she is always right!)

This is a place of support, play, shelter, exploration, and conscious interaction with our stuff. We don’t give each other advice, and we try to have as much fun as we are capable of.

Oh, and would you care for flowers in your stateroom? I believe that can be arranged…

The Fluent Self