Last Friday, I wrote here about introversion, and about the ways it can, once in a while, have a toll on the person whose job it is to interact with the world in meaningful ways. Perhaps this has all been on my mind lately because this summer’s been quite different from the average.
Today, I walked around in the house I hope to buy (though I fear it will be snapped up by another eager bidder before my current home sells), it seemed to me the perfect place to hunker down all summer–all year, maybe. It might be the fact that its been an unseasonably cold summer in Seattle (still 60-some degrees, overcast and often rainy), but whereas I’m usually craving a swim, a cocktail party on my porch and some new outfits, this year I feel I just want to be home, inside, on my own, in my ugliest yoga pants.
I’ve been craving a reread of Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping, a lovely, domestic novel I think of as We Have Always Live in the Castle “light” (not necessarily a bad thing, just far less fantastical and wild of spirit, and more concerned with flux than preservation). I crave digging around in my garden, though I have no garden, and making spectacular dinners from what I’ve (not) grown. I imagine spending full days working on my next book, sleeping, then working on it again. In short, I’ve been fantasizing about a retreat from the world. And that’s something that’s just not feasible; I have commitments to my students and employers, to the publications I work for, and to the people in my life. And they’re all commitments I keep not because I have to, but because, at a very fundamental level, I want to. The people and things in my life are important to me, and I want to be there for them.
So what’s with this contrary urge, every now and then, to pop off the face of the earth and and enjoy selfish, hedonistic solitude with my curtains shut, my garden producing veggies I probably have no qualifications to grow?
It feels to me like the same impulse behind wanting to read fiction–the desire to be lifted out of reality and immersed in a storyline in which the circumstances, concerns, and stakes have all been changed. The desire to have every action bear infinite weight and deliberation. The desire to be someone other than a bland, vitamin-D deficient Seattleite who needs three cups of coffee stand up straight in the morning.
If I don’t get to change it all, or even change my house just yet, I suppose it’s time to get my bland behind back in the chair and back to work on the new book. So maybe I can’t till the earth, stay in my ugly yoga pants forever, or cook all day long if the mood strikes. But I can get back to the written word. Maybe I can make something that will take a reader on a delicious little jaunt somewhere else–somewhere she would like to be on cold summer days like this.