27 May 2009

Finished: The History of Love --"life defined by a delight in the weight of the real"

Some final words from the text:

"But now she seemed different to me. I became aware of her special powers. How she seemed to pull light and gravity to the place where she stood .. I half expected that in another moment I'd be able to make out the cells of her skin as if under a microscope ...But it didn't last long, because at the same time I was becoming conscious of her body, I was becoming aware of my own. The sensation almost knocked the breath out of me . A tingling feeling caught fire in my nerves and spread. The whole thing must have happened in less than 30 seconds. And yet, when it was over, I'd been initiated into the mystery that stands at the beginning and end of childhood. It was ten years before I'd spent all the joy and pain born in me in that less than half a minute."

"i stood on the street and let the rain trickle down my neck. I squeezed my eyes shut. Door after door after door after door after door after door swung open""

"He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was
tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire to get a
pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth, praying it wouldn’t choose that moment to sit on his face. At
night, when he closed his eyes, he felt it looming above him."

"My own father, who had great respect for nature, had dropped each of us into the river soon after we were born, before our ties to the amphibians, so he claimed, were cut completely. ... I'd like to think that I would have done it differently. I would have held my son in my arms. I would have told him, Once upon a time you were a fish. A fish? he'd have asked. That's what I'm telling you, a fish. How do you know? Because I was also a fish. You, too? Sure. A long time ago. How long? Long. Anyway, being a fish, you used to know how to swim. You loved the water. Why? What do you mean, why? Why did I love the water? Because it was your life! And as we talked, I would have let him go one finger at a time, until, without his realizing, he'd be floating without me."

"as i looked into her face, it was him i thought of, the boy who would grow up without knowing how forgive himself."

"I lost the sound of laughter. I lost a pair of shoes, I'd taken them off to sleep... and when I woke they were gone, I walked barefoot for days and then I broke down and stole someone else's. I lost the only woman I ever wanted to love. I lost years. I lost books. I lost the house where I was born... So who is to say that somewhere along the way, without my knowing it, I didn't also lose my mind?"

It "was a lie, but by the way she was looking at me I knew she hadn't really heard, since it wasn't me she saw."

"I thought my heart would stop. But it was true. It was just like that."

"During the time I waited, a whole species of butterfly may have become extinct, or a large, complex mammal with feelings like mine."

"'You have to stop talking about God, OK?' He didn't say anything, but I was pretty sure he was awake now. 'You're going to be twelve soon. You have to stop making weird noises, and jumping off things and hurting yourself.' I knew I was pleading with him, but I didn't care. 'You have to push you feelings down and try to be normal...You have to make some friends..'"

"We sat together on the porch of Isaac Moritz's house, swinging on a bench and watching the rain.... I asked him if he'd ever heard of The Little Prince and he said he thought he had. So I told him about the time Saint-Ex crashed in the Libyan desert, drank the dew off the airplane's wings which he'd gathered with an oil-stained rag, and walked hundred of miles, dehydrated and delirious from the heat and cold. When I got to the part about how he was found by some Bedouins, Herman slipped his hand into mine, and I thought, An average of seventy-four species become extinct every day, which was one good reason but not the only one to hold someone's hand, and the next thing that happened was we kissed each other, and I found I knew how, and I felt happy and sad in equal parts, because I knew that I was falling in love, but it wasn't with him."

"After that day when I saw the elephant, I let myself see more and believe more. It was a game I played with myself. When I told Alma the things I saw she would laugh and tell me she loved my imagination. For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found the feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love, both sides were heads: I knew I couldn't lose. And now at the end of my life I can barely tell the difference between what is real and what I believe. For example, your letters in my hands- I feel it between my fingers. The paper is smooth except in the creases. I can unfold and fold it again. As certain as I am sitting here now, these letters exists.

And yet. In my heart, I know my hand is empty."

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