13 July 2016

Rooms Like Souls







Camera in hand, I had, at first, a compulsion to tidy...straighten the books, dust up. But then, no. Maybe I'm woefully misguided (in certain ways I conclusively am), but I find a slightly chaotic living room romantic. Something about books left in medias res (bookmarked, abandoned as they were), candles huddled, a record sleeve laying oblique, playful, unexpected.

In a creative nonfiction class, we once discussed the notion of essay-as-wunderkammer. And I love that. It was a shape-defining moment for me. It confirmed what I would write, and how I would do it, and what it would mean. (And lately, I have been squirreling my words away for another thing, a thing bowing into this form.)

I reckon the concept felt so resonant because the wunderkammer is a form I've loved in the literal sense -- its appearance in the places we occupy. The slow amassing of curiosities, their strange arrangement, the invitation to be at play, a dialogue with maker & taker. It's a sort of dialogue I imagine is filled with many ooo's and aaahh's and perhaps a bottle of wine shared amongst old friends. Red wine, glasses unmatched. So, yes. That's what I'm after. In living rooms, in stories, in life.

On the other hand, I've a friend whose living room is bare. She, the essentialist. One candle. Books thinned with precision & regularity. And I love that. I too cannot concentrate in a too-busy, too-messy place...and yet...I do not land in this pristine nest, but fall somewhere in the in-between, the amorphous space between well-ordered and complete and utter disaster.

But that is ok.

I am learning to love things without being them.

And I suppose what I'm after is this: a room that looks like a soul.

I feel that here. His books tucked in with mine (my maybe-too-many books). Tapered candles drip unruly, find new shape. The row of records we are slowly building. A conch shell and coral from an old woman I never met who gave them to someone else who gave them to us. A tiny sofa we can't all quite fit on, but sometimes attempt to, dog feet and people feet petering out at unnatural angles. The black Underwood I searched for, seemingly forever; I gave up, and it sought me instead. Prints found d & carried ever so carefully on an airplane back from Paris. Somewhere hidden, the world's luckiest penny (a story for another time).

Often, I look around this room and consider it. I am not a person particularly taken with planning, but I can't help but envision it a hundred different ways inspired by as many moods. I see her with chandelier. The art needs to go up, I think. It would be better moodier, grayer (the silhouettes on certain brown-and-black-covered books express this, however enigmatically, to me). And I like the idea of eschewing white paint for gray, for stripping a thing of its potential and making it be, decidedly, something. And the rest of the books turned inwards. Some of them covered, old parchment, calligraphy on spines. I imagine something like the apartment in Mr. Morgan's Last Love... 

I think someday. But I am after a room that looks like a soul; and as such, I find a bit of imperfection, a bit of unresolved mess, a bit of pining...is merely, delightfully, a sign of life.



11 June 2016

Reading in Bed & Other Things





(My plaid socks are from Foot Cardigan -- I love them and plan to wear them just like she does come winter; My book is The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.) 


I love that in our particular (that is to say, mortal) existence where things can change irrevocably in an instant -- there are still some untouchable things. Things incorruptible by the passage of time. It's reassuring that certain pleasures -- writing a letter, a bath, booking a flight, fresh sheets, a savored glass of wine, the first bite of your favorite food, reading in bed -- seem, somehow, to increase with age and time. The feeling doesn't vanish the way, in so many other places, it seems to. I find deep pleasure in this. Perhaps unparalleled. I may grow apart from people, or passions, or curiosities, or even from large pieces of myself...but these other things I will never grow weary toward.

I crave security -- there are a small number of people and things I want around forever. Him, foremost. The dogs. Our own small and new somebody, someday. To travel. The books. The photographs. The coffee. But there's another side to me (and these parts exist in concert, simultaneously, both omnipresent in their ways) that is terrified of predictability. Of knowing -- apart from the things I must have -- exactly what next month or next year or five years from now or ten will look like. I grapple with that. That's a romantic way of saying I have dark and stomach-deep fits of panic over this. And I don't know. I don't know if it's lack of predictability I want. Or that there's a thing or two I know I want...and don't yet have...and I'm afraid, terrified, in the infinitely myopic way of a twentysomething that because I don't have these things yet, I never will.

Do you ever feel that way?

It feels something like circling around. Like a carousel. And going round and round and knowing exactly where you'll end up and but each time having a hundred more theories about the ins and outs and the hows and whys of it, maybe even a whole system of theories organized under an official title, a dissertation that doesn't change really but keeps getting more footnotes. Like a lot of wasted mental energy and heart.

It's also kind of like...

When I haven't been reading enough, it's a story of false starts. It's five books one-fifth read in a stack on my nightstand. And when I have tried and tried to break it, but cannot, I reread a favorite. This time, The Marriage Plot, though many a title has been my magical restart. I circle back. One more time. And then, to my own flighty, too-sensitive, utterly mad heart I say, stop. And I start over.