Marissa Landrigan

  • Dirt that exists for my hands to sink into. Cool & pebbled, birthing sunset tomatoes and prickly cucumbers. I would never wear dusty olive canvas gloves in exchange for the sense of touch. I will go barefoot and carry lines of dirt in the cuticles of my toenails. I will learn what it means to sweat.
  • A dark tan, short-waisted trench coat with lots of brass buckles, zippers.
  • Fireplace, stone or brick, that holds real logs, burns licking, snapping flames. We will chop our own firewood, heaving the cold axe like a pendulum, the silver blade whistling past my ear. The cold air cracks with a splinter, bits of wood flying into my red flannel shirt. My pulsing heart, my heavy breath visible in November air.
  • The lightest, most unobtrusive laptop computer ever made, so that I may carry it on my palms to the top of a hill I can call my property to survey the land the only way I know how.
  • Only organic linens—cotton or bamboo sheets and towels, soft and unassuming in sage, mint, sea mist green or ivory. Neutral. Safe for his skin.
  • All four seasons to their extreme. Mountains covered with winter snow, penetrating ice; blustery autumn explosion leaves, crisp apples and cracking pumpkins; dewdrop-wet shining grass, pastel tulips, purple crocuses, birds and blooming spring with a front porch; sweaty, sandy wave-crashing summers of sea, kelp and conch shells. Montana winter, New Hampshire autumn, New York spring and California summer. Four houses.
  • Real pearls, long, looping strands of iridescent pink and white oyster babies.
  • A claw-footed bathtub, big enough for a family, in the middle of a grey marble bathroom, with antique gold faucets, surrounded by water-smoothed river stones.
  • A jungle zipline tour—to speed like a blur of light through electric green tropical canopies and feel leaves almost whipping against my bare legs, almost.
  • To always live near water that moves. To continue the spiritual path of Naticook Lake, Cayuga Lake, Hyalite Reservoir, and the Pacific Ocean.
  • A room full of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, full. A ladder on castors and a giant chair.
  • An enormous white wooden desk, in a room with hardwood floors and a heathered blue rug, set in front of a wall of French doors. The view of the water, always windy, blue- and white-striped umbrellas, old driftwood paths to walk when I cannot sit at the desk any longer.
  • Knowledge of the night sky. To know in my bones and speak out loud words like Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, Sagittarius, Orion.
  • The ability to create a rainstorm, to orchestrate the volume and timbre of thunder, and the hue of grey in the sky. Escaping into enormous thunderstorms that last all day, a stack of books and a warm mug. Wishes for water, bathtub, library, fireplace are all born of this unending thirst for a long-lasting rain.
  • Homesteader abilities in a vaulted-ceiling house. Stretching homemade mozzarella, white and rubber band tough, pulling tart strands into loping braids. The pungent scent of fermenting yeast and leafy hops from a glass vat in the basement; stirring powdered alchemy with a giant spoon into ales and Hefeweizens.
  • A large wooden sewing table, a brass foot pedal and a hidden machine, folding up out of the oak panel and centuries past. The rhythmic connection between tapping foot and needle, both dancing up and down into delicate white scars across a landscape of gingham, jersey, denim, cotton.
  • Non-leather bound, complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Endless cycle of new shoes, especially kitten heels, pull-on boots, wrap-around canvas sandals, peep toes, and the ability to walk flawlessly in all of them.
  • Room enough for all those shoes.
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, foolishly discarded back to the college bookstore, the semester I switched from a Journalism major to Creative Writing.
  • A coffee shop with one exposed brick wall, full of cycling local art—black and white photographs, mixed-media collages—where they know my name and that my favorite drink is a chai latte. A wide, sidewalk-facing window lined with bar stools, where I will watch the foot traffic, local characters in flannel, cowboy boots, chiffon dresses, or the Amish, strolling down the sunny small-town Main Street whenever I need a distraction from the notebook in front of me.
  • Any kind of boat, preferably a fast one. It sounds terribly pretentious, but I cannot resist any creation that may move me closer to the shifting, time-fluid water, that would allow me to float out across the waves, into oblivion.
  • Sepia-toned, standing globe, balanced on polished mahogany haunches. Country names in thin gold filigree, tiny papier-mâché mountains for my fingers to trace in Siberia, Nepal, Colorado, Chile.
  • Endless frequent flyer miles, for the places I must see again (the Grand Canyon, Rome); the places I want to show him (the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals, Monet's gardens at Giverny); and the multitude of places I fear I will never have the time to see even once (Costa Rican jungles, Amsterdam and Holland tulips, the beach cliffs of the Peruvian Andes, Great Pyramids, Irish pubs, Vancouver winters, Mexican honeymoon sunsets)...
  • A clothesline in a wide, rolling green backyard.
  • Just a rope, hanging a single tire, from a single tree, in my own front yard.
  • Something simpler.





I was reading John D'Agata's The Next American Essay and thinking about playing with traditional essay forms, and goals, ideals, abstract future plans and how to develop them into concrete realities. Or, I am a compulsive list-maker.