Desert and I

Anna Lesiczka
30th March 2023

Desert and I

I opened the door and took off almost all my clothes. Finally, I am home alone. I had bought products I wanted to consume - Hawaii frozen pizza and two beers. I really shouldn’t do it because I am on a diet. I was excited because I don’t lead this kind of wild lifestyle anymore. Unfortunately, when the pizza was gone, all the positive feelings went away altogether. There was silence in the house and I was sitting alone by the big table with a glass of beer. In the beginning, I felt like a child whose parents had gone away but the illusion was quickly gone. First of all, when I was a child, I never stayed alone in the house, and even if I did, it would be the worst nightmare I would barely survive staying sane. I’ve never lived by myself as well. But now the perspective of two weeks in an empty apartment seemed like freedom.

On the day when my roommates left for a vacation, I finished a project. It was Friday. To celebrate I wanted to do something against my rules. It was raining and I was exhausted. Therefore I ate pizza, drank two beers, ate a package of peanuts, smoked a cigarette and in addition, just before going to sleep, I ate instant noodles. Everything seemed extremely lame and all the time I felt unfulfilled. I was not a child and they were not my parents. If not for my rules, none of the taken actions would be any wrong. For some time, I was considering not brushing my teeth but later on I realized that despite all the illusion, I am still an adult.

There was nothing I wanted to do and nobody I wanted to talk to, but sitting there with a beer alone was a terrible option as well. So I went to sleep, but in the morning nothing changed. I was still feeling nothing. I did laundry three times and hung all my clothes and textiles all over the house. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found an open dark chocolate in the fridge. I ate it all at once and it made me feel a little bit better.

I am mostly alone, but lonely only sometimes. I observed that I get very lonely when the period that requires me to stay away from others slowly comes to an end. Just like I finally can see that there is no one alive who is vividly present in my reality and it suddenly starts to be painful. Three times during my life I was isolated from people for more than half a year. Every time it happened when I moved to a new city. Maybe I just can’t deal with new people together with a new environment. It becomes too much. So when I am already familiar with the colors and shapes of a city, when I can move freely without using navigation apps, when my body adjusts to a new climate and landform, when I recognize sounds of a new language and learn forms of local kindness, when I can sincerely call the place my only home of the particular moment, then I am ready to see that I don’t live there alone.

As a four-year-old child, I was obsessed with the Sahara Desert. It probably came from my fascination and devoted love for the book “The Little Prince”, which has never faded away since that moment.  My first happy memories from childhood concern the inner worlds of my two favorite things - the desert and the lion.

At that time I was too weird to go to kindergarten but my parents had to work. My grandma had a heart attack while staying with me and my brother together, so she chose my brother (he was younger) and I had to stay in a few different houses. The memories I keep from that time are on the verge of reality, strange and weirdly colored. I am still not sure if what happened was for real and I have nobody to consult.

I remember lying on my aunt’s bed and repeating the term “Fata Morgana”. Maybe we just saw it in a movie, read it in a book or it came out because of my recurring questions concerning the Sahara desert. It’s a memory from over twenty years ago and I am arguing with myself about the possibility of remembering so well the tiny size and the lightness of my body. It seems unreal to be so small, but definitely, it was the real situation in 2001. I can persuade myself that I was a squirrel once, but I couldn’t memorize the sensation of climbing a tree with a fluffy tail.

Dreaming about a desert as the most hostile place on earth still gives me thrills and the highest level of excitement. But it’s coming from a part of my spirit I don’t want to get close to. It carries a dream of death in a form of total disappearance. Maybe it’s the world where you don’t care anymore what is real and you let yourself lose all the senses. This is how I imagined the desert when I was four and this is how I imagine it now. A little bit like heaven and a little bit like hell.

But there is also an oasis in the desert. The fertile spot where the water can be found. In the stories I was told in early childhood, the characters were traveling through the desert and dying from exhaustion with no clue where they were. There was nothing but sand all around them. Suddenly they finally could see the oasis, so they were following the green spot on the horizon. Sadly they never reached it - it was just a Fata Morgana. There was nothing left to save them.

In Polish desert means pustynia and hermit means pustelnik. Therefore, being a hermit was always associated with living in solitude, specifically in a desert. Pustelnik is just a desert man.

When I was younger I had hundreds of imaginative friends. Now I am sitting at the same table but there is nobody in my mind. I almost didn’t eat anything because yesterday's food was very disappointing. But at some point, I couldn’t function anymore because of hunger. I decided to cook the frozen dumplings that my dad made and sent me some time ago. They lost their shape, taste, structure, and content under the influence of heat. The thing I was eating wasn’t the dish I know from my childhood, but nothing.