I am moving back to New York City from Georgia, and I have to find a place to live. I decide to stay at an uptown hostel while I look.
When I arrive at the hostel, I have to go to the bathroom very badly, but all of the toilets are occupied. I find an empty room with no furniture, only a blanket spread out in the middle of the floor. I squat at the exact center of the blanket and shit.
Standing up, I behold my shit, stunned. It is the most beautiful pile of shit I’ve ever seen. I know, the way one just knows these things, that I have created something truly great. The pile of shit is perfectly shaped and proportioned, like a great statue, the work of a master.
Suddenly I realize that I’m late to a party for which I’d accepted an invitation long before. With no other option—the bathrooms are still occupied, and I can’t leave my perfect shit just sitting in the middle of this room—I wrap the shit up in its blanket and take it with me.
The party is a cocktail party full of preening, posturing literary/artsy types—a real see-and-be-seen-type place. Somehow I blend in perfectly. No one notices that I’m holding a pile of shit wrapped in a blanket.
After a while, though, a man approaches me. He is young and handsome in a sleek, urbane, faintly elfin way. He gives me a crooked, insinuating smile, like he knows some secret about me.
What have you got in that blanket? he asks.
Nothing, I say.
Come on, he says. I know you’ve got something good in there.
I demur again, suddenly bashful.
Just show me, he says. His smile is puckish, a dare.
Shyly, I peel back the edge of the blanket.
The man’s eyes grow wide. Oh my God, he says. That is the most perfect shit I have ever seen.
I know, I say quietly.
I own an art gallery, he says. I’d love to put your shit in it.
I make an embarrassing, self-effacing gesture.
No, he says, his voice suddenly urgent and sincere. Your shit deserves to be seen by the world.
I know that he is right. My shit deserves the world’s attention; it is perfect. Still, what will they think when they see it—my friends, my family, my new boyfriend? Will they be disgusted when they see the contents of my emptied colon against the pristine gallery walls?
Now we are in the man’s gallery. It is bright-white everywhere, walls and floor and ceiling—blindingly white, like sunlit snow, like the perfect death.
I suddenly understand that this is the wrong place for my perfect shit. This place is too sterile, too lifeless, too scrubbed.
I take my shit to a garden and place it on the ground. Instantly, it sinks into the Earth and a tree rises in its place.
I understand now: the purpose of my creations is not to be displayed. Their purpose is to become compost, to fertilize new creations whose shape I have yet to foresee.
Image Credit: View of Arles, Flowering Orchards, Vincent van Gogh (1889)