I was familiar with the little mating rituals of getting to know each other, of dragging out the stories from childhood, summer camp, and high school, the famous humiliations, and the adorable things you said as a child, the familial dramas—of having a portrait of yourself, all the while making yourself out to be a little brighter, a little more deep than deep down you knew you actually were. And though I hadn’t had more than three or four relationships, I already knew that each time the thrill of telling another the story of yourself wore off a little more, each time you threw yourself into it a little less, and grew more distrustful of an intimacy that always, in the end, failed to pass into true understanding.
She struggled with her sadness, but tried to conceal it, to divide it into smaller and smaller parts and scatter these in places she thought no one would find them. But often I did - with time I learned where to look - and tried to fit them together. It pained me that she felt she couldn't come to me with it, but I knew it would hurt her more to know that I'd uncovered what she hadn't intended for me to find. In some fundamental way I think she objected to being known. Or resented it even as she longed for it. It offended her sense of freedom. But it isn't possible to simply look upon a person one loves in tranquility, content to regard her in bafflement.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
The air felt different in my lungs. The world no longer looked the same. You change and then you change again. You become a dog, a bird, a plant that always leans to the left. Only now that my son was gone did I realize how much I'd been living for him. When I woke up in the morning it was because he existed, and when I ordered food in the night it was because he existed, and when I wrote my book it was because he existed to read it.
And he isn't crying for her, not for his grandma, he's crying for himself: that he: too, is going to die one day. And before that his friends wil die, and the friends of his friends, and, as time passes, the children of his friends, and, if his fate is truly bitter, his own children. (58)
Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it's something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.
At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I'd end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages away, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat empty.
15. WHENEVER I WENT OUT TO PLAY, MY MOTHER WANTED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I WAS GOING TO BE
When I'd come in, she'd call me into her bedroom, take me in her arms, and cover me with kisses. She'd stroke my hair and say, 'I love you so much,' and when I sneezed she'd say, 'Bless you, you know how much I love you, don't you?' and when I got up for a tissue she'd say, 'Let me get that for you I love you so much,' and when I looked for a pen to do my homework she'd say, 'Use mine, anything for you,' and when I had an itch on my leg she'd say, 'Is this the spot, let me hug you,' and when I said I was going up to my room she'd call after me, 'What can I do for you I love you so much,' and I always wanted to say, but never said: Love me less.
You fall in love, it's intoxicating, an for a little while you feel like you've actually become one with the other person. Merged souls, and so on. You think you'll never be lonely again. Only it doesn't last and soon you realize you can only get so close and you end up brutally disappointed, more alone than ever, because the illusion-the hope you'd held on to all those years-has been shattered.