You couldn't relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole--like the world, or the person you loved.
There was a lot about Kim and J.P. he didn't get.... he was confused by their lack of romance. As a father, he was at times grateful for that missing intensity, but as a man who liked to surprise his wife with flowers, it baffled him. Maybe he was old-fashioned, but to him a couple meant a strong bond, with positive and negative charges constantly arcing between them. He'd never seen Kim and J.P. kiss, let alone argue.
Maybe he was old-fashioned, but to him a couple meant a strong bond, with positive and negative charges constantly arcing between them.
She had a vision of the two of them trapped on a tiny raft surrounded by miles of open water. It would be a kind of test, like surviving on a desert island--but that's what a marriage was, wasn't it? They would have to help each other or die.
Often, as she leafed through the sticky, plastic-coated pages, spotting herself with a frizzy perm or wearing a loud, printed blouse, she was struck by how long life was, and how much time had passed, and she wished she could go back and apologize to those closest to her, explain that she understood now. Impossible, and yet the urge to return and be a different person never lessened, grew only more acute.
Her address book confirmed it, the pages inhabited equally by the living and the dead....Each name called up raucous dinner parties and gin-and-tonics on sunny patios, lazy Saturday afternoons at the swim club, station wagons filled with noisy boys in polyester baseball uniforms.
For most of her life she just expected things would work out, that people would be kind. Now she recognized her good fortune for what it was. She'd been lucky in so much, it had left her woefully unprepared for old age.
He didn't like to fly--the noise and vibration gave him a headache--but, as with anything new, he was excited by the strangeness of it. The disjuncture intrigued him: stepping through a door in one place, sitting still for a few hours, then stepping out a thousand miles away. It seemed to him a very American mode of travel, even more so than the car, not simply going farther faster, but eliminating any temporal experience of the journey, skipping over whole sections of the country, the sole focus on arriving, with the help of expensive and arcane technologies, at one's destination, except of course, when one didn't--a thought brought on by his own instinctive disbelief and the bumpiness of the flight.
Somewhere in this latest humiliation there was a lesson in self-reliance. He'd failed so completely that he'd become his own man again.
It was the ultimate cautionary tale, the moral being Don't fall, as if they were made of glass. In a sense they were--their fragility was irrefutable, medically proven--and yet Emily detested the inevitable rundown of accidents and tragedies, the more fortunate clucking their tongues and counting their blessings, all the while knowing it was just a matter of time. She didn't need to be reminded that she was a single misstep from disaster, especially here, without Henry, surrounded by the survivors of an earlier life.
The city was a puzzle box built of symbols, a confusion of old and new, armored cars and donkeys in the streets, Bedouins and bankers. The Turks and Haredim, the showy Greek and Russian processions -- everyone seemed to be in costume, reenacting the miraculous past.