It is Day 8 of consuming almost nothing but My Own Piss™, a syrupy cleansing solution of lemonade and cayenne pepper forged in the depths of Mordor. I drink this and only this not for weight loss, nor the sake of my colon. I drink it in the ascetic tradition of deprivation as a means to revelation or purity.
I am not getting paid. : (
My roommate wants a burrito. I accompany him to the burrito factory, first because it is our custom, and second because it’s all right, I’ve just consumed My Own Piss™ and I am not hungry, I tell him.
“Are you sure you’re not going to lose it?” he asks.
“My body has numbed itself to all desire,” I tell him.
That’s true. That is not true.
We enter the Chipotle in the Five Thousand Villages shopping and yoga complex, and all is same as it ever was. I begin to consume everything around me that isn’t food with a quiet fervor–the echoes of canned Wilco, the changes in air pressure as summer-camp-tie-dyed teenagers shift towards one another, trying to make it seem like an accident.
I feel strong. I also feel like the hooded, masked ghost from Spirited Away. I am No-Face, insatiable for the lives of others, invited inside by mistake.
I lean on the maroon barrier and stare bleakly at my roommate until he pays attention to me. Owl-like, he turns his entire torso, as he is wont to do when his neck is feeling stiff.
“I pooped something in the shape of a mouse,” I tell him. Someone beside us clears their throat.
“That’s interesting,” he says.
“I am No-Face,” I mutter.
“What was that?”
As we make it deep into the second row, they run out of bowls for the burrito bowls. A woman who appears to have seven different Blackberry phones gets frustrated, and my heart, or some part of my insides that is supposed to be that organ, lifts with vindictive glee. Five minutes longer, she will wait.
This woman has no concept of days, only minutes between burrito bowls. She does not know what it is to suffer.
Then I remember I am supposed to be finding purity, finding god. I forgive her, trying to picture her eating her burrito bowl at home, flipping through a Land’s End catalogue while her cat licks his genitals.
But she has her burrito bowl, is the thing, and her sanity, and I don’t. I am envious of her. And the cat.
A Chipotle employee in a visor (the only one who is confident enough in herself to wear a visor) leaves and returns with a stack of burrito bowls. Collective relief—the line starts moving again.
We come closer to the smell of meat on metal, the acidity of salsas. My dry tongue pricks phantoms, my lips O around an invisible thickness.
“Brown rice or white rice?” the rice person is asking my roommate.
“Get brown,” I whisper to him. “I’ve never tried brown.”
“White, please,” he tells the rice person.
“What if I just got a little side of guacamole?” someone is saying. “A little guacamole never hurt anyone.”
Oh, it’s me. I’m saying that.
My roommate raises his eyebrows.
His judgment—or perhaps his lack of interest in my mundane masochism—kicks me in the stomach. Or maybe that is hunger.
Why do burrito ingredients have to have color and sound and smell? Isn’t taste enough for them?
The woman with Blackberries is paying in exact change. Perhaps she is god, I think. Perhaps she is god in the form of a lonely woman, testing me.
“I need to get out of here.”
But a maze of the Grand bourgeoisie is in the way, mocking me with the scent of their stability, their clean houses, and their practical antiperspirant.
So, I cut out of line. I straddle the barrier. I say excuse me to a lacrosse player. I straddle the other barrier.
Stanley Burroughs, inventor of the original My Own Piss™, modeled the Master Cleanse on the 40 days and 40 nights of Jesus’ fast in the desert. If I am supposed to be finding purity through depriving myself of food, Chipotle is a goddamn whorehouse.
As I walk home, I am aware of seconds passing, and then minutes, and I realize they are the same minutes the Blackberry woman is living now, the minutes until her burrito bowl. I close my eyes and live in her car for a second, the warm foil in a bundle resting on her lap like a newborn infant, and I am happy.
I can’t wait until this is over. If food represents temptation, then both are what I want. But to want is not to have. I think “to want” is more important than “to have.”
And perhaps “to want” is this purity I seek, this god I mentioned. Because none of us know or have seen god, god will never be something we have. God is not a person or material, god is, and always will be, the search for god.
I am standing outside our apartment in the middle of the sidewalk. My roommate approaches, Chipotle and keys in hand.
“I’m glad you made it home,” he says. “You can watch me eat my burrito if you want.”
I do not know if this is out of kindness, or sadistic pleasure, but I follow him inside. Yes, I had lost it, as he had predicted, but I lost it on purpose for the pleasure of finding it again. And I will lose it again, and find it again, over and over, until I am dead and do not want anything at all, ever again.
Front page image by tales of a wandering youkai.