June was cheerful and busy the last time I saw her, excited about her new volunteer work and welding class. This time as I walked past her window to the front door, I saw her standing, arms crossed, brow furrowed, staring out the window.
She caught my movement and came to the door, welcomed me in, started fixing us some of her excellent coffee. Her mostly eaten breakfast was on the counter–crispy sausages and hash browns, poached eggs, steamed spinach and cheese. Had I eaten? “I’m having all these animal parts–an egg, which is mean to bring new life, ground up pig muscle, and I was even going to add some cottage cheese, for the extra protein. As if I can’t settle for meat, have to have the reproductive cells and the secretions too. Seems parasitic. The spinach is okay, though it came from Costco, so must have come from a megafarm.”
“I’ll eat this, if you don’t want the rest,” I smiled. She smiled sheepishly, and sighed. “This is how I wrecked a romantic meal once, you know–too much analysis. It was so beautiful and delicious, but I started to feel it was a self-indulgent waste of cash that could have gone to better uses. Or was it? I don’t know. But I still feel that there something immoral about eating food I had nothing direct to do in obtaining, and didn’t really need.”
I picked up a damp dish cloth and wiped some spilled coffee grounds into my hand, tipped them into her compost pail, collected some stray pencils and poked them back into their mug. The kitchen window was open, and I heard the tiny whir of hummingbird wings, metallic chirping. She heard it too, and we moved silently closer to see and stood still, necks craned, to watch the visitation.
Best to let her talk it out. I knew it was the best way to help her come around, or back up to the surface again, where she could live and breathe. Best not to say much, either. She wasn’t a very good listener, in a way. Not that I resented it–it was just that unless I was speaking from my heart–and who can do that all the time?–she didn’t really absorb the details. Though she would sometimes realize it and apologize later. She had no patience for small talk, even from a friend. Talk about scheduling, play dates, other events, errands, those she had to write down or they’d slip away. But she has always been there for me when I’ve been bursting with real feeling, whether delight or sorrow. She would completely enter in then, putting her own things entirely aside to ask questions, empathize, help me pour out my soul. If neither of us had much to say, it was out to the garden to weed or look for something ripe, or time to make something–a meal, a drawing, a plan.
“I really wanted this breakfast, was so longing for it. And then I realized it was a poor substitute. I want something. I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I feel it’s something I have no business wanting. Sometimes it feels like pain.” She put the last few dishes in the dishwasher and clicked it on. “(I love that sound–something humming while it works for me.) No, not a pain, an ache, like the soreness when you massage a sore muscle. A good pain. So, I actually want to want, don’t know what I’d do without desire, longing. Well, yes I do–I’d get depressed.”
Then we switched to talk about our kids, fussed about busy schedules, helped each other resolve to be brave and cheerful, and said farewell until next time.