Friday, March 26, 2010

You eat yet?

There is a hunger that you feel when you are young, and lunchtime won't come fast enough, and you know you have in your lunchbox an egg salad sandwich, or smoked turkey and Swiss, or even a Thermos full of macaroni and cheese or Spaghetti-Os, and a pudding cup, and all you want is for Mrs. Fletcher to stop talking about Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea or whoever, and dismiss you to the cafeteria.

There is a hunger of shirt thin at the elbows and shoulders, and denim dungarees with the cuffs achingly too short, that cruelly expose your ankles. You feel this hunger right before you eat your breakfast, a small bowl of rice with milk and sugar, but no butter because there is no money for butter, and you know that lunch is a baloney sandwich and dinner will be soup. Again.

There is a hunger that makes your stomach cramp the way it does when its hot outside, that distracts you from what's being said to you, that takes small whiffs of fresh bread and contorts your body with pain when you smell them, that makes you mean and ignorant and always irritable.

There is a hunger when you know that if you have dinner tonight it means you won't be able to fit into that gorgeous black silk dress. So you make this your "ballerina's buffet" night: two wheat thins--saltines are too salty, and you might retain the water--a cup of regular coffee, black, and three cigarettes.

There is a hunger when you sit down at a table and peruse the menu, and choose the dish you've been looking forward to all day. You forgo appetizers, even the salad, so that your appetite will be as machete-sharp as it is when the warm humid air and acid jazz of the restaurant enveloped you when the wind of the street blew you inside. When your server sets that plate of food down in front of you--a steaming white pizza with fresh herbs, or a pulled pork sandwich with black-eyed peas and collards, or a bamboo platter adorned with slabs of fish and a tidy rosette of fresh wasabi--your eyes tear and your mouth waters, and you know that as good as the food really is, it will be made even better by the fact that you are so hungry.

There is a hunger when you sit across from someone on your third date, and you can't listen to what he is saying because you are too distracted thinking about the taste of his mouth.

There is a hunger of after having spent the day sweaty and silent, sunning at the beach, sipping iced tea with mint and reading and writing and listening to the sound of the surf, you are clean and changed and sitting in a patio ready to devour a plate of black bean dip and fresh tortilla chips that are still warm and smell like lime and salt.

On Sunday I was hungry for Corn Tings. On Tuesday I was hungry for potatoes. Yesterday I was hungry for protein, and even surprised myself with the occasional craving for animal flesh, which these days, is pretty few and far between.

But today. Ah, today. Today, I am hungry for the feel of comfortable and supportive flip-flops between my toes, and a comfortable skirt, and skin that is warm from having been in the sun and breeze, and the quiet stillness of vacation, and the feel of the ring on his finger, and the smell of the ocean, and the having done it already and resting together, and wrapping our legs around each other, and licking poi off my fingers, or off his fingers, and having the freshest fish I've ever eaten in my life.