I’m in withdrawal. I ask myself, is it thirst? No. Hunger? No. Some vitamin deficiency? No. Alcohol? Cigarettes? Caffeine? No, no, no.
I have emotional pica. I’ve been craving fire. The smell of a lit match intoxicates me. I want to smell leaves burning. I want to see embers fade to ash.
I told Gian. He figured it out: “You’re horny for fire.”
I put on Foxygen, Bowie, Prince, the Violent Femmes. Abbey Road. Patti Smith. Tina Turner. Taylor Dane. I need something that is angry and sexy at the same time. I need something risky with the potential of a big payoff.
It’s the time of year when I start to take big risks. At least that is what FB is reminding me that I do this time of year. Big leaps that have resulted in some of the most profound experiences of my life. If November is for visiting Paris and May is for visiting Rome, then June is for visiting NYC and living nocturnally.
Last night I stayed up texting with my friend Tyler. He’s young but with it. And talking to him felt like being 12 and staying up summer nights with Holly Johnston in her Arizona room (a windowed porch) late into the night and sharing secrets. It’s when you find someone with whom you can share parts of yourself you don’t show to others.
After last night’s conversation with Tyler about books, I’ve been thinking in terms of magical realism and reading Pale Fire by Nabokov at his suggestion.
This morning, listening to Joe Cocker’s voice wail and pop, I had the strangest craving to eat matches.
I searched my mind for the reference…this comes from somewhere…something I read when I was horny for life…back when I knew only of its hypothetical existence from art…back when I could see the glimmer of an aura of a life that could be mine…just not yet…back when it looked like the mirage created by heat radiating off of hot asphalt…back when I was 14.
And then it came to me. Laura Esquivel.
In Like Water For Chocolate, she describes it perfectly.
“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn’t find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.”
The story in the book is of a dutiful Mexican daughter who stays home and unmarried to take care of her cruel, tradition-sworn mother. Her love, Pedro, marries her sister, if only to be close to Tita. And when he dies, having lit all his matches after their one and only carnal experience, she eats a box of matches and joins him in that last blaze.
I had a dream last night of my alternate present, in which I lived on the periphery of the acceptable, a mere curiosity for my more well-adapted and steady contemporaries. Sitting at a table with adults as they refereed children running around tables and treating me like I was a charity case.
I was checking in on who I’d be if I still lived in Tucson. I’d be a box of damp matches.
Let’s see where this goes. Sex is only the most obvious solution. It is the more intricate and subtle details that, on the other side of experience, will satiate me.