I might have asked for it last Friday but I’m too ashamed to admit what that was all about. Rejection leaves a bad taste in the mouth and often, it’s hard to know who is being more courageous: the person who initiates or the person who rejects. Who is acting out of love and who out of spite/desperation/need to scratch an itch maybe? I got out of bed close to noon yesterday to recover from a rough night. The solution I’ve found to emotional woes is burying my nose in schoolwork. So far, the damage has been such that this week, I’ll have already read enough to satisfy this year’s requirements. Yesterday, I sat with Sasha in Starbucks leaving my opposition to capitalist coffee at home. We stewed all afternoon reading and talking every now and then. I brought only work with me and the Ishiguro novel I’d been struggling with all week. Frankly, nothing made me want to read it just yet. I wanted to find something that would help me sort out all these things wrestling inside me. Ishiguro is brilliant and gifted at storytelling but right now, this wasn’t the story I felt I needed. (Though I might read it just to get over the guilt.)
The problem with books is that sometimes they really manage to become like your friends. You love them more than you’d hope to ever have to admit but you also wake up hating them sometimes because you know that they see right through you. There is no bullshit in front of an honest novel and even when you struggle with hating the ending, you can’t shrug off just how alone its made you feel. Neither can you get rid of the fact that for once, someone’s actually found you (despite their being only characters in another persons head.) This was what I discovered after lying down and reading Tom Perrotta‘s, The Abstinence Teacher. I was put at ease by the number of items I crossed out of my to-do list today–enough to guiltlessly pick up a book. It was a spur of the moment decision quite like a one night stand which I’m told people often regret afterwards. I don’t, if you’re wondering . But I’m beginning to understand what it’s like to be destroyed by something so invasive and intimate. Perrotta’s words lured me in. He’s a master storyteller and I use the cliche only out of surprise. I hated his Little Children because of both the movie and this general sense that literature in the twenty-first century would always be about people who cheated and had lurid sex with their neighbors. Plus I really, really disliked the suburban family breaking apart plot because I wanted to believe that art could do better than imitate life which often takes cues from art, anyway. You know? How tiring is it to read about things you already know or at least feel brewing inside of you? We blog, talk to our friends, write–we relive the experience repeatedly in the guise of finding words for it or at least a way to package the narrative–and sometimes, that can feel stifling. But Perrotta was funny, honest, moving and hurtful all in one breathe with the story of Ruth, the Sex-Ed teacher. All his characters, even the minor ones, were given space to be despite the brevity of the books pages. I’m impressed by both his management of the story and his way with the characters. None of them are contrived and so even if the ending made me feel like I might have gotten blue balls if I were a boy, I loved it anyway. That’s to say, I understood his point. Do I agree with it? I’m not sure.
So far, all I know is that Perrotta has successfully brought on a mild-December depression that ought to be flushed out with some ice cream and occasional crying. He opened a can of worms for me and while I knew it to be his intention beforehand (some 70 pages into the book), he also taught me to feel okay about it. He invites me to bask in this space alone with his characters. They accompany me only up until the last page where the story ends abruptly and it’s as if the friends I’ve known all my life have suddenly died and there is no one to speak to about all of this. Not even the book which I hold and carefully press against my chest. I’m trying not to cry but something tells me, from the weight of this book pressing firmly against me, that there is no other heart beating but mine. How lonely to be so found and yet so lost.
Tomorrow I’ll post the part about mistakes made–things we regret about relationships or maybe even sex– For now though, I would really like to sleep or at least try.