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Sara Baume


You want:
a decked roof garden with miniature palms and pine patio furniture, a butterfly trellis and a couple of evergreen climbers, an ornamental crab-apple tree in a frosted glass pot, its branches all weighted with baubly fruit.

I want:
to paint sunglow weather-shield over your pine, to ram whirligigs into your frosted pots and dangle great clanking wind-chimes from your trellis, and to pick your crab-apples, to skin and chop and soup and set them into a bitter, piss-coloured jelly.

You want:
a golden retriever with all of its papers, even if heís too big for your roof garden; a bouncing, wagging, dashing dog to accessorise your decking, your magnolia walls, your chrome car; a blonde dog with a tag in the shape of a cartoon bone and a name like Jack or Max or Sammy.

I want:
a three-legged mongrel with a traumatic past, rheumy eyes and a croaky cough, who came from the pound and was just a few hours from being put down; a tortoiseshell dog with a knitted scarf instead of a collar and a name like Mr Widdles or Bogart or Beagley-Weagley.

You want:
the empty honey jars I need to store my piss jelly, so you can meticulously soak and scratch their stickers off and fill them with cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, tamarind root; to make new labels with your German label-maker and arrange them along your kitchen shelf of soaked, scratched and relabelled honey jars with things inside that are not honey but inedible spices with ostentatious names.  

I want:
to scoff things straight from their packaging, ignoring the easy-open flap and rendering the reseal tape redundant; to leave them half-finished and scrumpled shut, their slits clipped with plastic food-pegs or maybe left recklessly unclipped, tossed into a drawer and abandoned to spill.
You want:
to power-walk Jack or Max or Sammy about the Wicklow mountain trails at the weekends, hips swinging, elbows flailing, wearing the water-resistant suede-leather boots and wielding the Nordic hiking pole you bought on the Internet and have yet to liberate from their boxes, like all the other frivolous gadgets you think you need.

I want:
to stroll over pebbly sand and scramble across barnacles; to skim perfect skimming stones into gentle waves; to climb old gnarled and twisted oaks, trip into streams and get my feet drenched; to pick magic mushrooms from the damp moss.

You want:
brilliant white sheets and memory foam, one minimalist pillow each and the bed positioned squarely in the centre of the room with space all around it, so it feels as though we are island-bound in an ocean of floorboards.

I want:
to have the option of sleeping in a scrunch against the cold plaster when your skin gets too hot, on floral sheets beneath a patchwork quilt, a snoring mongrel and a duck feather duvet that spits specks of white down so light they hang in the air above us.  

You want:
everybodyís shoes removed and lined up in the hallway beside your hiking boots as they enter; everybody reduced to a shuffle in their sweaty feet and mismatched socks; everybody just a few millimetres diminished in height, just a few measures more awkward with their over-long toenails exposed, their laddered tights.

I want:
not to have to always get down on my knees as soon as I enter your hallway, to change into my slippers like I did in primary school, to be reminded of primary school, of how I cried for my mum every morning in the foyer when faced with the slipper trolley, with a hundred pairs of black pumps with a hundred names stitched to the insoles.
You want;
the smell of pricey aftershave and gourmet pasta sauces, floor polish and Windolene and pine-needle air freshener in December.

I want:
the smell of burning leaves and baked potatoes, creosote, dog fart, fruitcake and Christmas trees, real ones, the sort which drop needles and drool golden sap. 

You want:
cheap-flight city breaks, wine bars and war museums, elevators to viewing platforms from which we can admire the fluctuating architecture, districts where we can stroll the shop fronts and boardwalks, open-air restaurants with parasols and tapas menus. 

I want:
camping in a one-man tent on a sand dune with puffins nesting in a nearby cliff and gannets crashing the waves beside us; to dig holes like a cat to shit in the scrub and fork alphabetty-spaghetti straight from a can heated over a fire stoked with driftwood in a circle of beach stones; to not care that my skin is ugly blotched blue-purple-orange because we went winter-swimming in the freezing ocean.

You want:
no television set to adulterate the perfect feng shui of your living room, not because you donít want to watch television, but because you want to tell people you donít watch television, you want to be the kind of person who doesnít watch television, who reads popular psychology by night and plays Trivial Pursuit with their married friends.

I want:
to face all of your furniture towards a television set; to sit always in the direction of a comforting screen, and then to watch reality TV shows without you making me feel small about it, without having to explain how much I find those TV people endlessly fascinating, how much I need the reassurance of all their flaws and dysfunctions.

You want:
the bedroom blind and curtains both drawn tight against the dark.

I want:
to be able to watch a rectangle of night sky whenever I cannot sleep, to see all the different stages of the moon, and sometimes a night aeroplane, a shooting star, the shadow of a hunting bat.

You want:
bevel-edged mirrors on your magnolia walls, a Lichtenstein poster framed in the hall and maybe even an abstract oil from the railings of Merrion Square, but everything modern, everything soulless.

I want:
to cover your magnolia in corkboard with my hot glue gun; to buy bumper packs of multicoloured tacks and to splice photographs from the Sunday papers, photographs of smoking crows and melting clocks, yak herders on Himalayan mountainsides, fish markets and origami orchids and allotments in the North of England, and then to pin them from ceiling to floor, so they are visible always as a constant reminder of how the world is so much bigger and more important than we are, than our small life. 

Waiting Alone by J. P. Donleavy