Brian MacDonald and Amanda Miska


Brian MacDonald

Consumption — Amanda Miska
Inspiration Piece

I miss the days of that studio apartment on 4th Avenue.  Both just out of grad school, we basked in the novelty of being starving artists, which is easy to do when you’re not actually starving.  We ate:  bread, eggs, cheese, canned black beans, whatever fruits and vegetables were in season and cheap, and $3 bottles of wine that we’d call the nectar of the gods.  Our budget was boldly posted on the refrigerator door.  We made just enough to cover our bills.  We didn’t have cable television and our monthly allowance for entertainment was enough to see one movie or go to one show at a bar.  We took pleasure in the unexpected, like the day you unearthed your winter coat and found a $10 bill in the pocket or the impromptu Labor Day parade put on by our costumed neighborhood children who threw Tootsie Rolls at us.  We were grateful for the free dessert.

It’s strange how limits give you freedom—maybe that’s an artist thing.  Creativity was vital.  We made love—a creative endeavor in itself—because there was time and because our dial-up internet connection was too slow for porn.  The library was a favorite destination.  Books filled in for the television we didn’t have.  When we weren’t reading, we were writing or listening to our impressive CD collection, founded primarily on thrift store finds.  Thrift stores were treasure hunts for adults, like reliving childhood moments digging in the beach sand for lost coins in the days before the metal detector.  We furnished our apartment and ourselves with secondhand wares.  We took pleasure in our legs, walking or biking everywhere we could—we didn’t need a treadmill.  We quizzed each other at Trivial Pursuit cards with the fervor of Olympic athletes.

There was nothing more joyful than sitting down to a cup of coffee at our favorite local spot on Sunday morning, people watching and doing someone’s discarded Times crossword puzzle. It was like church. There was time, then, to feed our souls.  We cultivated them passionately, with prayer, with conversation, with art.  With potluck dinners and the laughter of good friends.  Our passion was for people, not politics. Politics were about power and control.  There was no love in the political.  No hope.  No ambiguity.  Everyone was right and everyone was wrong. Ignorance prevailed.  Some people assumed that we were the ignorant ones, too lazy to read up on new candidate platforms or take petitions door to door, but that was not the truth.  We chose to separate our lives from the things that drained the world of truth, beauty, and goodness. Those were our words for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I remember crying the day we left that apartment.  No part of it lacked memory.  We had scribbled on its walls, spilled on its floors, breathed on its windows.  We’d spent five years there, but it was time to move on.  Grow up. Take on real responsibilities, like mortgages and college loan payments.  You started at a new job where the daily dress code included a tie—we jokingly, or perhaps prophetically, called it the noose.

Now there’s steak on our table, two cars in our garage, and fancy wine chilling on the refrigerator door.  Our CDs are in boxes in the basement.  Most evenings, you retreat to your office to work, and I sit alone on the couch, thumbing through a fashion magazine or watching some inane “reality” television show that in no way resembles real life.

I remember one of our writing instructors always said:  we’re fueled by what we consume. She fervently believed that we’d become better writers through osmosis:  if good words go in, good words would come out.  I believed her.  I saw it happen.  I even saw it happen with people—the good ones made me better and the bad ones turned me bitter.  I saw it with us:  the more we were consumed by our love with each other, the more fuel we had to carry us even through the worst situations.

We’re running on empty.  We need new fuel:  the clean-burning kind.

I want to burn again. To be consumed.  I want to be engulfed by art, by language, by love.  That kind of fire is not limited to a one-room apartment several miles across town or a certain moment in time.  It is in us and it is infinite. At any moment, if we fan it, it can spark.

Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.