Tuesday, November 24, 2009

from Your Face Tomorrow v3, Javier Marias p 204

Nostalgia, or missing some place or person, regardless of whether for reasons of absence or abandonment or death, is a very strange and contradictory business. At first, you think you can’t live without someone or far from someone, the initial grief is so intense and so constant that you experience it as a kind of endless sinking or an interminably advancing spear, because each moment of privation counts and weighs, you feel it and it chokes you, and all you want is for the hours of the day to pass, knowing that their passing will lead to nothing new, only to more waiting for more waiting. Each morning you open your eyes- if you’ve had the benefit of sleep which, while it doesn’t allow you to forget everything, does at least numb and confuse- thinking the same thought that oppressed you just before you closed them, for example, “she’s not here and she won’t be coming back,” (whether that means coming back to you or coming back from death) and you prepare yourself not to trudge through the day, because you’re not even capable of looking that far ahead or of differentiating one day from another, but through the next five minutes and then the next, and so you’ll continue from five minutes to five minutes, if not from minute to minute, becoming entangled in them all and, at most, trying to distract yourself for just two or three minutes from your consciousness or from your ponderous paralysis. If that happens, it has nothing to do with your will, but with some form of blessed chance: a curious item on the television news, the time it takes to begin or complete a crossword, an irritating or solicitous phone call from someone you can’t stand, the bottle that falls to the floor and obliges you to gather up the fragments so that you don’t cut yourself when out of your laziness you wander about barefoot, or the dire TV series that nonetheless amuses you- or that you simply took to straightaway- and to which you surrender yourself with inexplicable relief until the final credits roll, wishing another episode would start immediately and allow you to keep clinging on to that stupid thread of continuity. These are the found routines that sustain us, what remains of life, the foolish and the innocuous, that neither enthuses nor demands participation or effort, the padding that we despise when everything is fine and we’re busy and have no time to miss anyone, not even the dead (in fact, we use those busy times to shrug them off, although this only works for a short while, because the dead insist on staying dead and always come back later on, the pin price pressing into our chest and the lead upon our souls.)

Time passes, and at some ill-defined point…we raise our head and once more look around us, and although we see nothing particularly promising or attractive, nothing that can replace the person we long for and have lost, we begin to find it hard to sustain that longing and wonder if it was really such a loss. We’re filled by a retrospective laziness regarding the time when we loved or were devoted or got over-excited or anxious, and feel incapable of ever giving so much attention to anyone again, of trying to please them, of watching over their sleep and concealing from them what can be concealed or what might hurt them, and one finds enormous relief in that deep-rooted absence of alertness. “I was abandoned,” we think, “by my lover, by my friend, by my dead, so what, they all left, and the result was the same, I just had to get on with my own life. They’ll regret it in the end, because it’s nice to know that one is loved and sad to know one’s been forgotten, and now I’m forgetting them. I did what I could, I held firm, and still they drifted away.”