Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I Want

I have a burning need to write something here, to be in the middle of an imaginary conversation--no, scratch that, an imaginary lecture, where I am holding forth and you are listening with baited breath (whatever that means), nodding in all the right places, giving me a 100 watt smile, and once in a while leaning forward to grab my hands and give them a squeeze.

I have a burning need to be in the middle of this imaginary holding forth, and for there to be a bottle of wine--no, make that two bottles of red wine--on the table between us. I want this conversation to take place in Arizona, at a kitchen table, at the battered, round kitchen table in my old 4 room rented house on Santa Barbara, next to the window that overlooks the raggedy ass shed in front of the abandoned dog run. I want the baked weeds cracking the red brown dirt to overhear our sudden laughter. I want it to be the summer, to know that outside it's 112 degrees and inside, where we are, it's about 90, but it feels cool compared to the sizzle of the sun on our skin where there's no shade. I want to say, "Shit, living here is like living in a nuclear blast," and I want you to laugh and agree.

I want to gossip about people we know, critique their conversations, their hair cuts, their clothing, their style of interaction, their inability to sustain human relationships past the superficial level, their sociopathic love of ideas and distrust of emotions. I want to see and name all the ways in which we are superior to them and their petty, intellectual concerns. I want us to gaze into each other's eyes with the puffed up sense that we are, indeed, the chosen. That we are special. We belong to the world in a crucial and identifiable way.

I want to be 20-something, and poor, and maybe just married. Not pregnant yet, certainly. Still in the prime of my physical life. Let me be flush with health and desire. Give me a poem or two in the mental hopper. A great idea for a short story and the time to write it. Throw in the two cats, but make them, again, spend most of their time outside, stalking the birds dumb enough to light on the starved ornamental orange trees in the broken tubs outside the front windows. I'll take the two boy cats instead of the two girl cats of those long ago years--the boy cats are just more grateful for me. They run at me with feline glee lighting their eyes, they rub their faces all over my legs, all over my cheeks, they bump me from all angles, trying to get their scent into me. They remind me that I'm special, that they belong to me in a crucial and identifiable way. The girl cats never did that; they reminded me that I was tangential, but necessary. That I was a loud, large feeding machine.

Let's sit at the kitchen table and let me talk your ear off. Let me work myself up into an inspired rant. Let me make new combinations of metaphor and insult sing through my catalogue of real and imagined abuses in our petty academic world, where we agonize over essays on William Carlos Williams and Elizabeth Bishop while small time mobsters turn on the ignition in their Caddies and blow themselves sky high, right outside the Ventana Canyon resort. Let me go on and on about this small life with the fervor of a true believer in my reality, in my fleshy pleasures, while you smile and nod and laugh in all the right places.

Let me think about how much I love you, sitting there, across from me, and how much I love this life, all its promises, all its small and sometimes delicious pleasures, and disappointments, and half-finished projects, as the afternoon falls down and the light across the table turns red, then purple, and the ceiling fan ticks the minutes away, pushing cooler night air across our faces.

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