I thought I would be ready to get back to my story today, but I’m not.
I’m feeling – well, I don’t know what I’m feeling exactly, but I’ll try to describe it.
I woke up this morning at 8:00 a.m., had breakfast, and immediately went back to sleep. I woke up at 1:00 p.m. I mentioned that I’ve been tired beyond tired, and of course I needed sleep. So that makes sense.
I woke up to a terrible sense of longing. I felt restless and had no idea what to do with myself. So I did something relatively silly, which was go shopping. I went to the Land’s End Canvas shop and ended up with some reasonably rational purchases. Two pairs of chinos (this is one of them, the other is a slightly darker khaki):
And a chambray dress:
They were all 60% off, which I mention just to say that I hadn’t completely lost my senses. But it’s fairly clear what was going on, wasn’t it? I mean, look at what I bought. Where would you wear clothes like that? At the seaside, of course. I didn’t really want new clothes, although I’m always happy to have them. I really wanted to go to the sea, walk on the beach with my chinos rolled up, go to a restaurant in that dress.
So I came home and had a couple of mild panic attacks, and thought of those lines from Moby Dick: “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.”
And then I went grocery shopping, and while at Whole Foods I did something I’ve never done before, which is put together a plate of antipasto and bring it home for dinner. And I am in the process of eating it now, with part of a baguette and a glass of Reisling, which you wouldn’t think would go with antipasto, but goes with it just fine. It all looked like this, before I started eating:
What is going on with me? The sense of panic seems to have subsided, but the sense of longing is still there – a terrible sense that there is something missing from my life, and that I have to find it. And that in order to do so, I have to change my life – not just a little, not by buying clothes or eating things I don’t usually, but by truly changing it. Completely.
I’ve felt like this before, although never to such a degree. When I do, I revert to the habit of childhood: I get on a plane and go. I can’t do that today, of course. But I’m already planning on going to Madison this summer, for Wiscon. And now I’m thinking that I should go to San Francisco for the Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibit, and a friend has suggested I visit Asheville. I guess it all depends on what I can afford, but I can’t get to Europe this summer, so maybe I should fly around, visit friends and family. Maybe that’s a short-term solution, and will keep me from knocking people’s hats off. Although what I really want is to go to the seashore. But I’d be going by myself, and what’s the point in that?
Longer term, I have to change my life, of course. But that’s in process and will take a while. And that terrible sense of longing . . . The one that makes me feel as though I have a hole in my side. What to do about that? I don’t know, I’ll have to figure it out.