POINT OF SAIL
By Eileen Field
I didn’t know that a nightstand could be both an anchor and a life raft until I found myself in a shifting landscape and realized that mine had become both.
I currently exist in a liminal state – one of those stages of life in which everything is changing swiftly and dramatically, as though you can feel waves shifting underneath your feet. I have recently moved, and am recently married. My new husband and I are living temporarily in a house that is not our own, and our belongings remain packed away in the boxes in which we carried them down the coastline from San Francisco.
Unable to transform this house in a significant way – into a home that reflects our personalities and our memories – we have chosen instead to create little pockets of homeliness. My nightstand is one of them. Situated next to my side of the bed, it is one of few physical spaces in our new life that is mine alone. While my nightstands in the past have been careless, even sloppy, I have assembled this nightstand thoughtfully. In the midst of creating a new life it has become a touchstone: the first thing I see in the morning and the last at night. It acts as a tether to the past and the future. It ties me both to the self that I was and the self that I am becoming.
Books are the soul and the structure of this nightstand. As book lovers know, there is no better way to make a home than to fill the space wall-to-wall with novels and memoir, poetry and philosophy, picture books and art texts. Collectively, they are my map; they reveal my point of sail. Some I keep with me always, like The Little White Horse and Ballet Shoes. Their well-worn covers hint at the lasting place that they’ve held in my heart, and as soon as I enter their pages I am transported to a world that is warm with familiarity. Others, saturated with memory, place me in this particular year, like Swimming Studies, which I read for the first time while lying still beside a pool in the muggy heat of the Palm Desert in August. Some of these books serve as a reminder of where I’ve come from, like The Thing The Book and Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self, which evoke the heart of the art scene in the Bay Area. Others show me where I want to go next. They hint at the possibilities that the future might hold.
And apart from the books there are the odds and ends: the barrette from my grandmother, a single air plant, a delicate ring dish from a friend, my sketchbook, a tiny alpaca, an ever-changing assortment of errant hair pins.
These are the ordinary, everyday things that keep me afloat without drifting. Together, they achieve a magical alchemy – peace in the midst of metamorphosis.
Currently on my nightstand:
In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
Celtic Tales illustrated by Kate Forrester
Here by Richard McGuire
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton
Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self by Susan O’Malley and Christina Amini
The Thing The Book by John Herschend and Will Rogan
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Art / Work by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber
Got a Girl Crush Issue 03
Women Artists Vol. 2 and 3
Sad Girls Issue 3
A Flower Wedding by Walter Crane
Eileen Field is an artist and writer in Southern California.