This morning, as I was speed-reading last Sunday’s New York Times before this week’s edition hit the driveway, I spotted an obituary I felt compelled to read: Carol Prisant, Antiques Dealer Turned Elegant Design Writer, Is Dead at 82.
I didn’t know of Carol Prisant, nor had even heard of her before learning that she passed, but the photo of her seated at the interior corner of a sectional sofa, holding a teacup and flanked by two thin, athletic looking dogs, likely whippets or Italian greyhounds, charmed me enough to want to know more about her. I pulled the paper closer (or pushed it farther away, searching for my readers!) to take closer look.
Carol was born in 1938 in Pittsburgh, PA. Her father owned a jewelry store, her mother worked as a travel agent. Carol herself “loved opera, Broadway musicals, and old things.” As a student at Barnard College, Carol studied English Literature. At the age of 51, she jump-started a writing career by cold-calling the editor of her favorite magazine, The World of Interiors, and asking for a job. Her subsequent articles “extracted humanity” from even the chilliest collectors and decorators, bringing a new voice to writing about interiors. She “never got the memo,” apparently, that you “weren’t supposed to write what you really felt in a decorating magazine.”
What I enjoyed most in reading about Carol Prisant’s life was meeting a sister risk-taker, another woman who observed her world and lived by making her unique contributions to it. In our time of civil unrest, unhinged loudmouths jockeying for political power and daily school shootings, we need more of this kind of risk-taking. We need women- and men- of all colors and stripes to live courageously, embracing the humanity in everyone. We really are all the same.
I doubt Carol Prisant was aware she would inspire a jewelry artist in Saint Louis born three decades after herself, but she has done so. I strive to be a woman who, through pursuing my passions, creates a legacy of kindness and leaves a celebration of humanity in my wake.
What it means to be human comes in many colors. Carol Prisant’s favorite was pale pink. I’ve always adored a similar hue, but that’s just coincidence. Out of respect and admiration for her and others like her, take some time to find your own. And live it proudly.