Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Haven

When someone complained to William Morris that his long, bench-like, medieval-inspired settle, though beautiful, was not actually very comfortable to sit on, he was annoyed. "If you want to be comfortable," he said shortly, "go to bed."

Morris is very much on my mind, this weekend. I woke a couple mornings ago from an intense despairing dream of New Haven: I was half drunk, and trespassing, wandering into the houses of people who actually had lives: all their furniture was handmade and lovely, all their books were interesting, the drawings and paintings on the walls were so beautiful that you caught your breath. Everything was vivid and alive. These were people who knew how to live. You knew without seeing them that they dressed beautifully, without giving a damn about what was in fashion, and that they knew how to do make and repair all sorts of things. They were people who would sit down anywhere on anything and attend to the conversation intently. "Comfortable" would never enter their heads. 

Last night I was not cold enough to get up and get another blanket; not warm enough to sleep well. I wander through my past. The atmosphere of New Haven lingers: I was never quite good enough; I could never pass for native there. I was never careful and industrious enough to be a scholar, or adventurous and intense enough to be an artist. I never quite made a life for myself. It was a long time -- five minutes maybe -- from the waking from that dream, to realizing that I no longer lived in New Haven, and that I no longer had a dissertation to avoid: that no one but me still carried that failure around with them. 

Really, of course, New Haven was an ugly, dirty little city, full of dispirited people who didn't give a damn about their work. I don't know where the people who value beauty above comfort really live. Perhaps they've all gone to bed. It is, after all, getting dark.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Me too.