A World With Sun In It
Lately it feels like a matter of life or death to get away from the world of the computer and back into the realm of that-which-I-can-actually-touch. Marriage has really brought this out in me. Like, to a deranged degree. For the past year-and-three-months of marriage, I've been stunned by the intensity of my desire to bake bread, to re-organize the pantry, to lay out beautiful tablescapes for dinner parties. At first I thought I was straight-up turning into a homesteader. Then I told myself that this was just your typical writerly procrastination: I didn't want to get my work done and so my Id whispered to me that mixing flour, yeast, and water was a worthy task that must be done right away.
But I was wrong! It wasn't procrastination. It was need. My brain—my body, too—was nudging me back into the realm of the tactile, because it knew I'd spent so long trying to live in limbo, ready to go anywhere, do anything. It wasn't that I didn't want to write; it was that I desperately craved both.
So I foraged flowers. Made an inspiration wall. Transplanted plants. Oh yes, it all sounds cloyingly aestheticized when you say it out loud. Got a vintage linen table runner at the thrift store. A trio of ceramic hands. Some handmade macrame. Returned some things to the thrift store to keep our apartment streamlined. All in the pursuit of the tactile. I roasted vegetables, duh. Bought vintage design books to pore over. Scavenged a set of beads from the thrift store. I wanted to shake something, but in a non-violent way. Maybe a batch of kombucha—can you shake that? The concept of kneading felt vital.
The etymology of the word tactile leads you quickly into feel, which is an interesting word because it refers to both the physical and the emotional. I can feel the softness of my blue velvet blanket while feeling happy that years ago, my mother gave it to me because she wanted me to be warm. I can feel the stickiness of bread dough while feeling pride that I taught myself how to make it. Of course, sometimes you don't get both. I can feel that someone I love is sad without being able to feel the sidewalk under our feet that we skipped down the day we discovered that skipping as adults is a damn fine way to get places quickly. I remember the hilarious laughter that just absolutely burst from my body after a few seconds of skipping; we must have looked so deranged, just two adults, skipping with grave purpose between one coffeeshop and the next. We can feel things on the internet but can't feel them, which is an obvious and boring problem, except when you are really missing someone, and then it's the most pressing problem in the world.
The body wants to participate in the world. The mind does, too. We're all always turning toward the sun. My handsome grandpa can no longer feel his feet, or his shins, or his fingers. His walk is unsteady because his body is lost in space, unsure whether or not it is touching something solid. But he sits at his window by the lake and he can tell you the backstory of every animal that comes by. And he can remember what it felt like to sit on a tractor. What it felt like to fully stand.