Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 23: Food for the Soul

Today's post is about what nourishes me. Not just stuff I like, but that which restores my strength, rejuvenates me, brings calm, creates peace. And without calories. I'll tell you mine; you tell me yours.

reading novels and non-fiction/going to the library - I love learning about people, places, history, unfamiliar cultures, how to make stuff. I love memoirs, which are great for instilling gratitude. I marvel at the many, many ways people construct their own truth. I love the sensation of entering a library, knowing you are going to be there a while, the clean smell with a slight chaser of mold, the cool, dry air, the safe feeling of standing between two solid walls of books, the hours spent with no other sounds but the turning of pages and the slight crackling of jacket caressing jacket as a book slides out of the stacks.

smelly lotion and soap - I hardly ever buy anything at stores that sell bath products, because I don't think the reality of bathing with any of the hundreds of scented unctions could live up to the glorious few minutes spent screwing open bottles and jars of testers, plunging my nose into the Lemon Verbena or Rose Sage or Cucumber Lime. Then the cold, substantial weight of a dollop scooped with two fingers, texture like cream cheese, slathered into my parched, yearning hands.

shopping at Target - I'll get some raised eyebrows for this one. There is nothing like the sheer ordinariness of an hour spent in Target, the same experience in every city, the same lights and signs and specials. The t-shirts in stacks, the Windex, the powder compacts, the accent pillows. After 9/11, when my stomach hurt and I couldn't make sense of anything, I could make sense of Target. I went there and closed myself into a dressing room and tried on twelve dollars pants. My phone didn't get reception there; there were no TVs. And the place was packed.

watching Jarrah at the beach - My child is a water baby, which is funny, because she can't swim and doesn't like her eyes wet. But get her to a beach, and she won't have time for you for the next five hours. There are waves to jump over, and buckets of sand to carry, and castles to build. Friends who share their toys, and friends who hold your hand in the waves. She has no fear of the ocean, and twice has gotten the washing machine treatment for her trust. When she is crouched over a castle, shovel in hand, polka-dotted tushy sticking out, gorgeous milky-coffee skin dusted with sand, pouty-lipped with concentration, I think it might actually be possible to love her more than the whole world's worth of oceans that I already do.

singing karaoke - My husband is the cat's pajamas because, while the idea of singing in public is in his top five nightmares, he totally gets what I love about it. A few years ago, David assembled a state-of-the-art home karaoke system for me, including professional microphones, a sound-mixing board, and a library of over 1,000 songs. He even painstakingly entered and printed all those songs into books--just like in the bars--arranged by both artist and song title. Many a time I've suggested karaoke gatherings to friends who swear by all that is good that they will never, ever sing. Those are the ones whose fingers we have to forcibly peel from the microphone at 2 a.m. Over the years, I've assembled my "standards:" "These Boots are Made for Walkin'," "Son of a Preacher Man," "I Feel Lucky," "Life is a Cabaret," and "Stuff Like That There," to mention a few. Other people throw back a couple of David's famous lemonade martinis before they take the mike. But I don't need any social lube.

getting e-mail from friends - In my youth, I was a bit like a Victorian lady (only without the London townhouse and the footman with the silver server) in my epistolary prolificacy. I had a string of temp jobs in my early '20s, and whenever I wasn't busy (which was most of the time) I happily penned missives to my far and dear. I also adored receiving letters, and bundled them into shoe boxes for safekeeping. When I lived in England for a year, I was delighted to learn that there would be a "morning post" and an "afternoon post" (now there's a civilized country!) and the days when I received a little something on both occasions was a fine day indeed. Now no one writes letters anymore, which is a shame, but I can't complain because I don't do it, either. But there's e-mail, and for no reason that I can understand, my computer--formerly a soulless box that contained files of my term papers--is filled with letters for me, every day. Even 14 years later, too much contemplation of this good fortune sends me into paroxysms of giddiness.

movies with singing and dancing - My love of musical movies began with Grease, which was the first 8-track cassette I owned. I have probably seen it a hundred times. When I taught in Utah, I even chose the "Summer Love" scene for our Pageant Presentation, though I cast it in drag. Eventually, there was Dirty Dancing, which I've also seen a hundred times (even wrote about it in my dissertation) and Guys and Dolls. Recently, Hairspray and Across the Universe threatened to fritz out my nerve endings with zaps of joy. And, though I haven't seen it yet, I have every reason to believe that Mamma Mia! will be my movie of the year. I don't need these movies to be fine drama, mind you. Just filled with smiling people who sing and dance for no reason at all. The "no reason at all" part is where the soul food lies.


Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said...

Karaoke huh? I think the next Bitch Gathering my have to be at your place!

Mamasphere said...

Here by way of Mel :-)

You have such a way with language! It's an absolute delight to read what you write.

Being alone in Target to stroll and peruse as I wish is one of my biggest fantasies.

Mary and Paul said...

Target, as well!
Watching Joy sleep
Getting emails, too!