Friday, April 10, 2009

So this is how they send the angel.

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

Why do people always get named after dead people? If they have to be named after anything at all, why can't it be things, which have more permanence, like the sky or the sea, or even ideas, which never really die, not even the bad ones?

BEING ALONE. Like the Living, angels sometimes get tired of each other and want to be alone. Because the houses they live in are crowded, and there's nowhere to go, the only thing an angel can do at such moments is shut his eyes and put his head down on his arms. When an angel does this, the others understand that he is trying to fool himself into feeling alone, and they tiptoe around him. To help things along, they might talk about him as if he weren't there. If they happen to bump into him by accident, they whisper: "It wasn't me."

FOR BETTER OR WORSE. Angels don't get married. To begin with they are too busy, and secondly they don't fall in love with each other. (If you don't know what it feels like to have someone you love put a hand below your bottom rib for the first time, what chance is there for love?)

Get out more, join some clubs. I should buy some new clothes, dye my hair blue, let Herman Cooper take me on a ride in his father's car, kiss me, and possibly even feel my nonexistent breasts. I should develop some useful skills like public speaking, electric cello, or welding, see a doctor about my stomachaches, find a hero that it not a man who wrote a children's book and crashed his plane, stop trying to set up my father's tent in record time, throw away my notebooks, stand up straight, and cut this habit of answering any question regarding my well-being with a reply fit for a prim English schoolgirl who believes life is nothing but a long preparation for a few finger sandwiches with the Queen.

Dr. Vishnubakat asked me how I got the name Bird. I told him I just did. If you want to know why Dr. Vishnubakat is called Dr. Vishnubakat it's because he's from India. If you want to remember how to say it just think of Dr. Fishinabucket.

So this is how they send the angel. With the name of the girl you always loved.

Sometimes I thought about nothing and sometimes I thought about my life. At least I made a living. What kind of living? A living. I lived. It wasn't easy. And yet. I found out how little is unbearable.

I remember the first time I could make myself see something that wasn't there. I was ten years old, walking home from school. Some boys from my class ran by shouting and laughing. I wanted to be like them. And yet. I didn't know how. I'd always felt different from the others, and the difference hurt. And then I turned the corner and saw it. A huge elephant, standing alone in the square. I knew I was imagining it. And yet. I wanted to believe. So I tried. And I found I could.

There are so many ways to be alive, but only one way to be dead.

Sometimes I thought about my life and sometimes I didn't think. From time to time, when the urge struck, I conducted a quick survey: No to the question: Can you feel your legs? No to the question: Buttocks? Yes to the question: Does your heart beat?

Now that mine is almost over, I can say that the thing that struck me most about life is the capacity for change. One day you're a person and the next day they tell you you're a dog. At first it's hard to bear, but after a while you learn not to look at it as a loss. There's even a moment when it becomes exhilarating to realize just how little needs to stay the same for you to continue the effort they call, for lack of a better word, being human.

It's strange what the mind can do when the heart is giving the directions.

I couldn't speak. I was afraid I'd choose the wrong sentence.

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