Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Happy Sadness

Everything happens in the warm months. I get restless and yet I’m forced to be tied down—apartment lease renewal time. I want to play but there is endless work to be done—pages and emails and proposals forgotten in the winter rush of parties. I want the comfort of an old love but the rush and excitement of someone new—a man whose day has not yet begun until he’s sent me a love letter or two.

“Happy sadness”—this feeling is cyclical for me and begins once the spring pollen has settled and the summer heat encroaches on the sidewalks, seeps into the old, downtown apartment buildings, causes the perspiration from my cheeks to bead and slide down the expanse of my back. I long for something more—a thing out of my reach and extraordinary—yet I’m somehow settled and satisfied with the act of wanting. My state of desire and anxiety are palpable, delicious. If my mood were a meal, it would be a plate just short of decadent—fettuccine in a bath of butter, a single sliver of white truffle atop the nest of noodles.

Bill Buford’s masterfully executed book, “Heat,” describes Mario Batali’s journey and ascension to the top of the culinary heap. And, much to my delight, he describes Batali’s solo travels through Europe and his subsequent periods of “happy sadness.” Buford and Batali seem to say that the sentiments feed each other, help each other, allow each other to peacefully co-exist.

“For his part, Mario remembers [Europe] as the last lonely time in his life, a sustained pleasurable period of melancholy, ‘a happy sadness.’ [He was] longing for company but recognized he was better off without it.”

And so here I am in the city, with my hot breezes and stinking garbage and glorious outdoor bars and bistros, both contented and cheerless. I want more but nothing at all. I need someone new but hope for the old. I put on a silk sundress and pray for the relief of autumnal breezes.

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