I’m in between books at the moment, so I began perusing our already stocked bookcases for something I hadn’t read. We don’t buy physical books as much as we used to since we have converted to the Kindle, but we are still hoarders. And Sam, ever the history buff, has amassed a large collection of important non-fiction so I thought I would push myself to ‘read up’ on WWI or another such important event. But when I came across The English Patient, I had to pull it off the shelf. Many years ago Sam had given me this beautiful first edition, signed book. It is perfection. So I opened it up thinking that I’d skim the first few pages, but it turned out to be most of the book. I had forgotten what it is to read this book, like a long, lingering poem that forces heart in throat the entire time. And lest you forget I’m a hopeless romantic, I came across my favorite passage midway through and crumbled a little bit:
This night of her insistence. Twenty-eighth day of September. The rain in the trees already dried by hot moonlight. Not one cool drop to fall down upon him like a tear. This parting at Groppi Park. He has not asked if her husband is home in that high square of light, across the street. He sees the tall row of traveller’s palms above them, their outstretched wrists. The way her head and hair were above him, when she was his lover.
Now there is no kiss. Just one embrace. He untugs himself from her and walks away, then turns. She is till there. He comes back within a few yards of her, one finger raised to make a point. “I just want you to know. I don’t miss you yet.”
His face is awful to her, trying to smile. Her head sweeps away from him and hits the side of the gatepost. He sees it hurt her, notices the wince. but they have separated and already into themselves now, the walls up at her insistence. Her jerk, her pain, is accidental, is intentional. Her hand is near her temple. “You will,” she says.
And then a postcard came fluttering out and landed on my chest. It was from the Solomon Islands, dated July 1 2004. I had traveled there for work, and I had actually filled out the back. It wasn’t like I said much, but I pined a bit for that lost history of my own:
I am readying to curl up outside, next to the water, after a full morning. I rode RAMSI helicopters over ocean and traipsed around provincial islands. You would be amazed by the raw beauty here, my little secret. I want to tell you much more. About this trip. And myself. But my eyes are sleepy so I shall save it for another time.
- Watching this Sandberg video about the developed world ambition gap of women made me a little guilty.
- Thanks to cousin Ben for sending along this link on the language of potato chips.
- Yemen’s state within a failed state is fascinating.