A tambourine is thumping in my chest
I liked love that made me bow down and that knotted my stomach with a fright I didn’t feel in the theater. Love that kept me awake, or roused me from sleep at dawn, my head stuffed with dreams and tunnels, that stole my appetite and my power of speech, that subjugated me even as it broke my chains. I liked love’s lies, more poetic than the ugly truth of reality, the finitude of a kiss, and the infinitude of its memory.
During the entire month of September, Vance Druid had never tried to buy Julia a drink…And this (of course) made him seem like the only attractive man in the entire town. And that (of course) is a romantic cliché, which (of course) only serves to illustrate Julia’s damaged self-perception.
Who could win a debate against a man who did not recall how many times they should have died? It was like trying to beat Rasputin at chess.
People often recall their childhood school bus smelling like vomit, but this is a misremembered cliché. In reality, the smell people recall is vomit cleanser. This misrememberance is the second-most interesting fact about school buses. The first-most interesting fact is that school busses vibrate. Anytime a yellow busload of children exceeds forty miles per hour, the seats and windows vibrate in place like an air hockey table; it always feels like the vehicle is on the cusp of molecular disintegration.
"Why do we gout out of bed?" Mitch wondered. "Is there any feeling better than being in bed? What could possibly feel better than this? What is going to happen in the course of my day that will be an improvement over lying on something very soft, underneath something very warm, wearing only underwear, doing absolutely nothing, all by myself?" Every day, Mitch awoke to this line of reasoning: Every day, the first move he made outside his sheets immediately destroyed the only flawless part of his existence. He could still remember the spring of 1978, when he…contracted mononucleosis. it was the best month of his life.
It is important to have questionable friends you can trust unconditionally.
It was the best kind of snow to stare at through glass. it was Christmas-card snow: mammoth, ultralight flakes that took decades to reach the ground. The particles were so weightless that any breeze could overtake gravity; as a result, it appeared to be snowing from every direction simultaneously. It was snowing down and it was snowing up.
"I need to change my ways," said Julia. "I can’t keep doing these things. I can’t keep living like this." Like al self-destructive creatures, she completely meant these words, but only while she spoke them.
Rewinding Boy George cassettes was like smoking clove cigarettes inside an oxygen tent: diminishing returns.
Maybe I don’t need a relationship at all, she thought. Maybe thinking about these conversations was just as good as having them. She could sit in her Honda in the dark and experience whatever kind of life she wanted. Sometimes you think, Hey, maybe there’s something else out there. But there really isn’t. This is what being alive feels like, you know? The place doesn’t matter. You just live.
This was the challenge she was putting into existence - she would not stir, not for dinner, not even for her mother calling her in. She would simply wait on the bridge, calm and obstinate, until events, real events, not her own fantasies, rose to her challenge, and dispelled her insignificance.
Perhaps she was not as weak as she always assumed, finally you had to measure yourself by other people - there really was nothing else. Every now and then, quite unintentionally, someone taught you something about yourself.
Through the material of his coat he felt for the bundle of her letters. I’ll wait for you. Come back. The words were not meaningless, but they didn’t touch him now. It was clear enough - one person waiting for another was like an arithmetical sum, and just as empty an emotion. Waiting. Simply one person doing nothing, over time, while another approached. Waiting was a heavy word.
Sometimes, when a soldier Briony was looking after was in great pain, she was touched by an impersonal tenderness that detached her from the suffering, so that she was able to do her work efficiently and without horror…She could imagine how she might abandon her ambitions of writing and dedicate her life in return for these moments of elated, generalized love.
The problem with these fifty-nine years has been this: how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outsider her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all.
Dirt was piled around some graves. A digging machine stood frozen with its jaws piercing the sod, as though the union’s call had come in the middle of burying someone. Family members acting as caretakers had made touching attempts to spruce up loved ones’ final resting places. Excessive fertilizer had scorched one plot a blazing yellow. Excessive watering had turned another into a marsh. Because water had to be carried in by hand (the sprinkler system had been sabotaged), a trail of deep footprints from grave to grave made it appear the dead were walking around at night.
"Grief is natural," she said. "Overcoming it is a matter of choice." I remember it because I used it later for a diet product: "Eating is natural. Gaining weight is your choice." Maybe you saw it.
O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes; seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth: Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth / With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs. She hath no questions, she hath no replies.
At night the cries of cats making love or fighting, their caterwauling in the dark, told us that the world was pure emotion, flung back and forth among its creatures, the agony of the one-eyed Siamese no different from that of the Lisbon girls, and even the trees plunged in feeling.
At home on snowy mornings, listening to school closings on the radio (a parade of Indian county names…)
All wisdom ends in paradox
In the dark, there will be light. Will you help us?
On different paths, with different-colored eyes or jerkings of the head, they had deciphered the secret to cowardice or bravery, whichever it was. And the Lisbon girls were always there before them. They had killed themselves over our dying forests, over manatees maimed by propellers as they surfaced to drink from garden hoses; they had killed themselves at the sight of used tires stacked higher than the pyramids; they had killed themselves over the failure to find a love none of us could ever be. In the end, the tortures tearing the Lisbon girls pointed to a simple reasoned refusal to accept the world as it was handed dow to them, so full of flaws.
She was the still point of the turning world