by Leigh Newman
1. Artichokes. Avocados. Kiwis. Or any other food that was very pricey when you were a kid and a rare, rare treat, so that even if its cost has gone down and its appeal is less compared with the contemporary luxury food items (like salted organic caramels that cost as much as a year of college) you still think of it as a luxurious splurge, bought only for the most special celebrations.
2. Tito. He was your childhood goldfish. He died or was given away or maybe just got prematurely flushed by Dad when he looked a little puckish and down at fin. No other goldfish will have the same sway on your affections.
3. A romantic comedy from Aaron Sorkin. Which he will never, ever make.
4. The backyard pool. Anybody else always assumed they’d grow up and have a backyard pool? With a twisty slide? And a trampoline?
5. “Walking around” money, the kind that the grandparents, beloved uncles and even sometimes that rare boss slip to you for no reason in particular with the understanding that you will spend it on something you would normally not allow yourself (because you don’t need it and the economy is bad and you’re trying to save more), such as a ritzy, cool Swiss watercolor set and two brushes. Despite the fact that you don’t know how to paint.
6. A cold compress from Mom. An old, ragged, wet washcloth placed gently on your forehead doesn’t cure the flu. But it sure makes you feel a whole lot better, especially on day three of a 103-degree fever, when you’re convinced that nobody anywhere ever cares at all and you’re going to spend the rest of your short, pointless existence sweating in a dark room. Luckily, you can pick up the phone and moan creepy, doglike, plaintive sounds into the receiver. Your mother will know it’s you.
7. The thank you. From the person for whom you broke your back and part of your soul -- but that never came. Which is an experience that forces you -- horribly -- to confront your motivations about giving.
8. Candy canes.
9. Candy corn.
10. Candy apples (but only at carnivals).
11. A big, fat, public promotion. This huge, star-studded event could happen at the office, where your coworker falls down and admit how talented and powerful you are. Or it could happen at the next PTA meeting. Or the next book-club meeting, where finally everybody will realize that you are the Best Reader Ever. All of which keeps your working zeal intact over time.
12. Valentines. Even from your best friend, who knows you adore stupid, cheesy, commercial valentines and don’t have a thoughtful partner to give them to you. P.S. it’s acceptable to articulate this dream to the best friend and ensure you get a huge, tacky, lacey heart in the mail.
13. The easy, cheap, obvious solution that comes in a pill. The fact is, it may even exist! Such as B12 or iron. In the latter case, you might not realize that you desire this element so basic to female happiness. You’ll just be tired -- and gray. Proceed directly to the doctor.
14. That wonderful yet messed up love. The feeling is not dead and he’s not dead. If you were with him, it would not be some initially screwed up union that ultimately worked out, all the way to rice and doves. It would be terrible and brutal and you would pay the price. Thus you long. Thus you resist. And -- eventually -- you go on to another richer, freer life.
15. That wonderful-yet-untried love. Even if you are in love with the most ideal person, you’ll long for this. That’s the thing about love, you always want it to be improved or different -- love with a side of understanding, not just love with a side of attraction and loyalty; love with passion today, love with bad jokes tomorrow, love with a bunch of fresh, unexpected tulips the next. If you didn’t feel this way, the emotion would get old -- and think what would happen to the universe if we all got tired of love and decided to long for something else. Like hate or corn chips.
16. A day off that’s not a vacation day (spent on a long, overpriced, crowded flight) or a personal day (spent waiting for the plumber) or a holiday (spent with Grandma Ruth, eating disturbingly rare turkey). Just the day off. With pay. No work.
17. Dandelion fluff. And the belief in the power of their wishes.
18. An eternally wise, all-knowing English teacher, who will make you sit up straight (again), read Hamlet (again), and think for yourself (again). All of which will be celebrated with a last-day-of-school Coca-Cola cake and a showing of Pride and Prejudice starring St. Lawrence Olivier.
19. Knee-highs that don't make your shins look fat.
20. Quiet after you get home.
21. The allowance for the inexcusable mistake.
22. You. Your endless and probably fundamental need to know yourself (also known as: Who the hell am I? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?) is one of the greatest desires on the planet. It keeps you from doing the really stupid demeaning stuff that happens when you wistfully want to be somebody else. It helps you understand your desire for meaning, despite its often-painful costs. It keeps you awake and lets you go to sleep. It is the desire of a lifetime. Long, long, long for it.