I was not always a seizer of days. I was once a parsimonious hoarder of things precious. Like so many women of my mother's generation, my lovely things were put away, saved for special occasions, shored up against some future in which I would be prettier, more elegant, more deserving.
My mother almost never indulged herself. As we grew up, my sister and I became more and more determined to bestow luxury on her, to force her if necessary to enjoy it. And yet she never did. I remember bottles of perfume, expensive cosmetics, gift certificates for manicures, scarves and purses - all tucked away in tissue and stowed in a drawer. After she had died, it was a particular heartbreak to discover these things - much diminished by then, as she lived her final years in a nursing home. Their saved-up patina had always faded. The perfume had evaporated, leaving a dried yellow rime on the bottle; the pretty things were no longer in style.
Here are some of the things I saved up: beautiful clothes, gifts from my husband, that were too expensive to wear "just" to work or for a day running errands. My first pair of real gold earrings. The good shampoo - I used Head and Shoulders for everyday. My own bottle of extravagant perfume, also a gift from my husband. This last I received before my daughter was born...just the other day, not long after her sixteenth birthday, I found it tucked away with a little bit left in the bottom.
You don't need me, if you are a certain age, to tell you the rest; middle age brings a knowledge of the brevity and fragility of life, the way the years slip through our fingers. Many of us (and how I grieve for our mothers, who never arrived at this day) take the silk blouse out of the closet one day, dressing for a trip to Target, and think "fuck it, I'm wearing my damn blouse." (Forgive the language; the voice of my personal mid-life journey is deliciously vulgar.)
The full translated text from Horace reads "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future", and is a reference to drinking the wine that might spoil if you don't. More and more often I find myself doing just that. In fact, just last week I bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate the completion of the book I am working on, but for various reasons the end of the book has stretched into the future. The prospects for the bottle, however, have not - I intend to drink it before the week is up.