Let's just go in and enjoy ourselves,' Yvonne had said after a long moment when the Hitchens family had silently reviewed the menu—actually of the prices not the courses—outside a restaurant on our first and only visit to Paris. I knew at once that the odds against enjoyment had shortened (or is it lengthened? I never remember).
Kumiko and I would visit their home and have dinner with them twice a month with mechanical regularity. This was a truly loathsome experience, situated at the precise midpoint between a meaningless mortification of the flesh and brutal torture. Throughout the meal, I had the sense that their dining room table was as long as a railway station. They would be eating and talking about something way down at the other end, and I was too far away for them to see. This went on for a year, until Kumiko's father and I had a violent argument, after which we never saw each other again. The relief this gave me bordered on ecstasy. Nothing so consumes a person as meaningless exertion.
Even knowing that my presence brought a shadow over the lives of my loved ones, I can't regret the experiences I've had with them. They gave me life, becoming an integral part of my soul. They healed me when I was broken and somehow they recovered those parts of me, I thought lost forever.
My dear nephew was only in his sixth year when I came to be detached from the family circle. But this did not hinder John and I from remaining the most affectionate friends, and many a half or whole holiday he was allowed to spend with me, was dedicated to making experiments in chemistry, where generally all boxes, tops of tea-canisters, pepper-boxes, teacups, &c., served for the necessary vessels, and the sand-tub furnished the matter to be analysed. I only had to take care to exclude water, which would have produced havoc on my carpet.
Oh, no said her mother sadly. You know nothing of the pettiness of women. When brothers agree to split a joint family they sometimes divide lakhs of rupees worth of property in a few minutes. But the tussle of their wives over the pots and pans in the common kitchen--that nearly causes bloodshed.
Live life so well that, even if you die, the empty seats behind you will tell the story that, "yea, this soul did what God sent him/her to do". Give life and hope into your family, village, community, country, continent and the world at large. You can do it!
For while they'd stayed close during the absurd years of his sharp rise, having children had knocked it all into a different arrangement. The minute you had children you closed ranks. You didn't plan this in advance, but it happened. Families were like individual, discrete, moated island nations. The little group of citizens on the slab of rock gathered together instinctively, almost defensively, and everyone who was outside the walls--even if you'd once been best friends--was now just that, outsiders. Families had their ways. You took note of how other people raised their kids, even other people you loved, and it seemed all wrong. The culture and practices of one's own family were the only way, for better or worse. Who could say why a family decided to have a certain style, to tell the jokes it did, to put up its particular refrigerator magnets?
My breath swirled around in my chest and my stomach tingled. It was like Eula's happiness come through her hands and seeped inside me, too. "'sides," she said, still smiling, "love don't need to be in the same house. There always be love inside me for you and James, no matter where we are.
I had a dream about you. You were a burlesque dancer in a burlap sack, and I was a first-time kidnapper. I wanted to be rich in dance moves, and I thought the best way to achieve it would be to extort it from your talented family.
I’ve never had anorexia, but I know it well. I see it on the street, in the gaunt and sunken face, the boney chest, the spindly arms of an emaciated woman. I’ve come to recognize the flat look of despair, the hopelessness that follows, inevitably, from years of starvation. I think: That could have been [me]. It wasn’t. It’s not.