Monday, July 6, 2009

In Praise of Want

It is difficult to articulate adequately the joys of mild privation. After all, no one wants to want: we spend our lives scurrying around, hunting for fingers and toes and words and danishes and lawnmowers and puzzles to stop up the holes in ourselves. We build contentment carefully, bird by bird (if we are Annie Dillard) or tot by tot (if we are unrepentat tater tot whores. Mmmm....tater tots). Contentment is a permeable bulwark, an inconsistently effective dike; it's the way we try to reclaim ourselves from the vast grey sea of desire.

And yet.

I've just returned from two weeks living alone in an old stone house in a tiny town. I had two mattresses piled on the floor, one chest of drawers, a stove that smelled of gas. In the mornings I rose with the sun, padded across the wooden floor through the gold and the must to light the flame under the kettle. I brewed tea in the single mug, stirred it with the single spoon, added milk from a glass bottle. The tea was black and smoky. I downed it, then brewed another mug before cramming my feet into my sneakers and running until the town ran out and the borders of the roads were overgrown with corn.

There was a lot of corn, but there were more stars. At night they were everywhere, yellow and sweet and insistent. I drew the dusty curtains across the windows and brewed more tea. I made what dinner I could with the two old pots and the saucepan, then ate it on the single glass plate shaped like a star. I did the dishes and read and went to sleep and dreamed of waking up alone in an old stone house wanting tea.


Andrew said...

That sounds nice.

Anne said...

It was damn fine.

Margaret said...

Did that really happen? It sounds unreal. When? Where? Why?