There is something very refreshing about being out in the elements. Not staying out there, mind–but tasting of all those things we’re presumed to want to keep ourselves safe from–out in the night, out in the rain, out in the snow, out in the wind and the cold.
If you find yourself smiling and nodding as you read, it should be no surprise to find that the opposite is also true: it is very sapping and draining to live in too sterile and fake an environment.
I hate the carpet in my bedroom–loathe it. It feels like rough plastic under my feet. I would tear it up in an instant if it were my house; I’d try to talk my landowner into tearing it up, if I thought there was anything under it than chipboard. Instead, I skitter from the bed to the bathroom with my subconscious muttering, “ick, ick, ick” the whole way. I walk the dog barefoot, sometimes, on the asphalt loop–that’s rough, and sometimes pointy, and always rubs tar off on my feet. It still feels more interesting and honest.
The hard things and the raw things and the honest things. . .and the sad thing is, it seems those are the things society most expects and encourages us to run from and hide from and cover up.
I feel out of place and alien in my condo-upper-bedroom. My feet, used to being dew-drenched in the dirt of the garden, rebel against the “sturdy” carpet. But my soul does, too, in a way. I tell myself that I’m going to be here a while, and I should get settled in. Make things homey, bloom where I’m planted, all that jazz. But the truth is, I don’t want to make this place home. It’s a good box to park in while I go to school, but the place is sterile, and it’s hard to get any real life in it.
I feel like an ingrate. A roof, a bed, a kitchen beyond any right. Trees. Crickets. Stars out the window, sometimes, even. But mostly I wander around and wonder what possesses people to be willing to settle for this–complicit, almost. A place of shelter for a transient time of life, while you grasp for something better, yes. A place where you just stay put? With the plastic, rope-like carpet and the dearth of windows, and the back-filled sand that you can’t really grow anything in?
For six weeks, I wanted to labor hard on something, but there was nothing to labor on. Someone comes and does the lawn work. Someone even comes and cleans the house. You can’t really take care of something you don’t own but this, too, is supposed to be okay–more than okay. When I came back home, I worked until every muscle in my body was sore. The delayed onset meant it woke me up in the middle of the night, and I was surprised by the rush of gratitude. Being protected from hard labor is another mark of civilization, I guess, but it’s a kind of death, like not ever being able to feel the rain running down your head. Cloistered. Almost claustrophobic.
The most curious thing of all to me is how it seems so many don’t even notice. It’s like hearing music and commenting on its haunting beauty, only to discover no one else hears it. Why would they follow what they could not hear? You poor, numb creatures. It is so very similar to one of my classmates extolling the virtues and wonders of frozen pizza–and I truly, truly pitied her. I made her come and eat real pizza, made in the kitchen I don’t deserve to occupy, and afterward she thanked me for ruining frozen pizza for her and I told her she was quite welcome and it was a real pleasure.
Somewhere along the line, people heard that it was bad for you to stand out in the rain. And to work hard until you were sore all over. That sweat was nasty, and so was dirt, and that carpets were good, and on the whole of it, it all makes me feel very, very sad. You sorry lost chickens, if someone offered you the garden of Eden, you wouldn’t know its worth. And I’m going to leave you in your blindness and deafness, because I am not going to spend the rest of my life in a frozen-pizza-cardboard-box of an existence. For the temporary, yes, but you know I’m plotting to leave you as soon as I can. And I won’t look back, my dears, I will not be looking back.