How often since then has she wondered what might have happened if she'd tried to remain with him; if she’d returned Richard's kiss on the corner of Bleeker and McDougal, gone off somewhere (where?) with him, never bought the packet of incense or the alpaca coat with rose-shaped buttons. Couldn’t they have discovered something larger and stranger than what they've got. It is impossible not to imagine that other future, that rejected future, as taking place in Italy or France, among big sunny rooms and gardens; as being full of infidelities and great battles; as a vast and enduring romance laid over friendship so searing and profound it would accompany them to the grave and possibly even beyond. She could, she thinks, have entered another world. She could have had a life as potent and dangerous as literature itself.Or then again maybe not, Clarissa tells herself. That's who I was. This is who I am--a decent woman with a good apartment, with a stable and affectionate marriage, giving a party. Venture too far for love, she tells herself, and you renounce citizenship in the country you've made for yourself. You end up just sailing from port to port.Still, there is this sense of missed opportunity. Maybe there is nothing, ever, that can equal the recollection of having been young together. Maybe it's as simple as that. Richard was the person Clarissa loved at her most optimistic moment. Richard had stood beside her at the pond's edge at dusk, wearing cut-off jeans and rubber sandals. Richard had called her Mrs. Dalloway, and they had kissed. His mouth had opened to hers; (exciting and utterly familiar, she'd never forget it) had worked its way shyly inside until she met its own. They'd kissed and walked around the pond together.It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk. The anticipation of dinner and a book. The dinner is by now forgotten; Lessing has been long overshadowed by other writers. What lives undimmed in Clarissa's mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it's perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.
I’m not this unusual,” she said. “It’s just my hair.”She looked at Bobby and she looked at me, with an expression at once disdainful and imploring. She was forty, pregnant, and in love with two men at once. I think what she could not abide was the zaniness of her life. Like many of us, she had grown up expecting romance to bestow dignity and direction.“Be brave,” I told her. Bobby and I stood before her, confused and homeless and lacking a plan, beset by an aching but chaotic love that refused to focus in the conventional way. Traffic roared behind us. A truck honked its hydraulic horn, a monstrous, oceanic sound. Clare shook her head, not in denial but in exasperation. Because she could think of nothing else to do, she began walking again, more slowly, toward the row of trees.
I wanted a settled life and a shocking one. Think of Van Gogh, cypress trees and church spires under a sky of writhing snakes. I was my father's daughter. I wanted to be loved by someone like my tough judicious mother and I wanted to run screaming through the headlights with a bottle in my hand. That was the family curse. We tended to nurse flocks of undisciplined wishes that collided and canceled each other out. The curse implied that if we didn't learn to train our desires in one direction or another we were likely to end up with nothing. Look at my father and mother today.I married in my early twenties. When that went to pieces I loved a woman. At both of those times and at other times, too, I believed I had focused my impulses and embarked on a long victory over my own confusion. Now, in my late thirties, I knew less than ever about what I wanted. In place of youth's belief in change I had begun to feel a nervous embarrassment that ticked inside me like a clock. I'd never meant to get this far in such an unfastened condition. (p.142)
We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so...
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.
I was living my own future and my brother's lost one as well. I represented him here just as he represented me there, in some unguessable other place. His move from life to death might resemble my stepping into the kitchen - into its soft nowhere quality and foggy hum. I breathed the dark air. If I had at that moment a sense of calm kindly death while my heart beat and my lungs expanded, he might know a similar sense of life in the middle of his ongoing death.
You want to give him the book of his own life, the book that will locate him, parent him, arm him for the changes.
What she wants to say has to do not only with joy but with the penetrating, constant fear that is joy's other half.
There were no weapons of mass destruction. And we bombed them anyway.And, by the way he's destroyed the economy. He's squandered something in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. It seems impossible to Tyler that that might not matter. It drives him insane.
I suppose at heart it was the haircut that did it; that exploded the ordinary order of things and showed me the possibilities that had been there all along, hidden among the patterns in the wallpaper. In a different age, we used to take acid for more or less the same reason.
...a much younger woman, one of those round-faced, tiny-featured women who were touted as beauties though they were not in fact particularly beautiful. They were simply the daughters of wealthy families powerful enough to demand that the concept of beauty be expanded to include them.
He needs a looser association. He needs something that implies a man who wants the ice shard to remain in his chest, who's learned to love the sensation of being pierced.
Do you ever think?What?They were lying together on the sofa that had always been there, the crappy beat-up biscuit-colored sofa that was managing, as best it could, its promotion from threadbare junk to holy artifact.You know.What if I don't know?You fucking do.Okay, yeah. Yes. I, too, wonder if Dad worried so much about every single little goddamned thing . . . That he summoned it.Thanks. I couldn't say it.That some god or goddess heard him, one time too many, getting panicky about whether she'd been carjacked at the mall, or had, like, hair cancer . . .That they delivered the think even he couldn't imagine worrying about.It's not true.I know.But we're both thinking about it. That may have been their betrothal. That may have been when they took their vows: We are no longer siblings, we are mates, starship survivors, a two-man crew wandering the crags and crevices of a planet that may not be inhabited by anyone but us. We no longer need, or want, a father. Still, they really have to call him. It's been way too long.
We worship numberless gods or idols, but we all need to be the grandest possible versions of ourselves, we need to walk across the face of the earth with as much grace and beauty as we can muster before we’re wrapped in our winding sheets, and returned.
Here's the sting of livingness. He's back after his nightly voyage of sleep, all clarity and purpose; he's renewed his citizenship in the world of people who strive and connect, people who mean business, people who burn and want, who remember everything, who walk lucid and unafraid.
Which is probably one of the reasons those of us who love contemporary fiction love it as we do. We’re alone with it. It arrives without references, without credentials we can trust. Givers of prizes (not to mention critics) do the best they can, but they may—they probably will—be scoffed at by their children’s children. We, the living readers, whether or not we’re members of juries, decide, all on our own, if we suspect ourselves to be in the presence of greatness. We’re compelled to let future generations make the more final decisions, which will, in all likelihood, seem to them so clear as to produce a sense of bafflement over what was valued by their ancestors; what was garlanded and paraded, what carried to the temple on the shoulders of the wise.
He says, 'I don't know if I can face this. You know. The party and the ceremony, and then the hour after that, and the hour after that.''You don't have to go to the party. You don't have to go to the ceremony. You don't have to do anything at all.''But there are still the hours, aren't there? One and then another, and then you get through that one and then, my god, there's another. I'm so sick.
A celestial light appeared to Barrett Meeks in the sky over Central Park, four days after Barrett had been mauled, once again, by love.
There are times when you don't belong and you think you're going to kill yourself. Once I went to a hotel. Later that night I made a plan. The plan was I would leave my family when my second child was born. And that's what I did. I got up one morning, made breakfast, went to the bus stop, got on a bus. I'd left a note. I got a job in a library in Canada. It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear. There it is. No-one's going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life. -Laura Brown-
Maybe – let’s not rule it out – this will be the song that cuts clean, the one that matters, the one that sheds standard-issue romance and reveals, under its old skin, a raw blood-red devotion deeper than comfort, a desire profounder than schoolboy satisfaction, a yearning cold and immaculate and unstoppable as snow.
I’m sure there are people who are content to run errands and report for work on time and wait, with an enlivening eagerness, for the lunch bell. I wish them well. They have, however, never been the subjects of novels, and in all likelihood, will never be.
The song is an unvarnished love shout, an implorement tinged with...anger? Something like anger, but the anger of a philosoher, the anger of a pot. An anger directed at the transience of the world, at its heartbreaking beauty that collides constantly with our awareness of the fact that everything gets taken away, that we're being shown marvels but reminded always that they don't belong to us. They're sultans' treasures; we're lucky, we're expected to feel lucky to have been invited to see them at all.
Isn’t the universe full of gaseous elements?”Andrew says, “Yeah, there are gases and neutrinos and this shit they call dark matter.