Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All she has to do is knock against you to find out you're empty.

All quotes from 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss -- Part three

So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon'tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI'venever-lovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgive me...

There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person's silence.

I locked and unlocked and that's what I did. For picking a lock where I came from I was a thief, but here in America I was a professional. ... I'm no Houdini. And yet. In my loneliness it comforts me to think that the world's doors, however closed, are never truly locked to me.


I thought of a time, the summer before, when we were thirteen and stood on the roof of his building, the tar soft under our feet, our tongues in each other's mouths while he gave me a lesson in the Shklovsky school of Russian kissing. Now we'd known each other for two years, the side of my calf was touching his shins, and his stomach was against my ribs. He said, "I don't think it's end of world to be my girlfriend." I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. It took seven languages to make me; it would be nice if I could have spoken just one. But I couldn't, so he leaned down and kissed me.

For God's sake, he thought. Where is your head? What in the world could you offer a girl like that, don't be a fool, you've let yourself fall apart, the pieces have got lost, and now there's nothing left to give, you can't hide it forever, sooner or later she'll figure out the truth: you're a shell of a man, all she has to do is knock against you to find out you're empty.

Give him a jelly and a powdered, I said. And I'll have a small coffee. The man in the paper hat paused. It's cheaper if you get a medium. America, God bless it. All right, I said. Make it a medium.

Perhaps that is what it means to be a father--to teach your child to live without you. If so, no one was a greater father than I.

No comments: