The women of England are beautiful.
In many cases, that simply means they were conventionally gorgeous... even more frequently than the ones I see at home, and more often displaying charming, fine, delicate features, features that I might almost call carefully crafted. (For some reason I'm thinking of the difference between Hugh Grant and Sylvester Stallone -- each of them has people who find them attractive, but you can see the aesthetic differences in how their faces are built.) On the train back to York from our day trip to Halifax, there was one such lady on the train with us, and I kept swearing that she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen.
I wanted to capture that face, so I kept looking whenever I had an opportunity (not wanting to be seen staring, not daring to take pictures -- I suspect that explaining it was For Art wouldn't have cut any ice with anyone)... trying my best to commit her to memory, how the contours of her face changed when she turned this way or that, how the neck muscles shifted, the proportions of the jaw line... I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent some time drawing when I was in York: that was when I tried to draw that face from memory and recapture those details. I failed utterly -- my visual memory is nowhere near as clear or sharp as I would wish. No one seeing those sketches would have any idea how lovely the lady was who inspired them. Such is life.
But even the women who would "objectively" be considered unexceptional or plain -- I could still sense an energy in them, almost an inner light, that elevated them for me. I'm sure that part of this is some sort of honeymoon effect on my part, a perception of them as somehow "exotic". Eventually, though, I realized that even the men of York had a vibe around them... and it clicked that overall these people were healthier and happier than what I was used to at home. In the two weeks I was there, I can remember one time hearing a voice that was upset -- not once hearing one that was angry -- but many that were boisterous and joyous. You can imagine that this sort of spiritual environment would connect with me and appeal to me on numerous levels.
Since then, I've wondered to what extent this might be economic. My understanding is that the cost of living in York (and Greenwich and London) is higher than here at home. Which would mean I was surrounded by people who could afford to live there = people more well off than me and my circles. Such people could afford to care for themselves better, life would weigh less heavily on them. Maybe what I was seeing was the effects of spending time with a higher class? Still not sure...