I wish I could remember how this book ended up on my kindle. If it was a paperback, I could imagine the little bookstore I might have picked it up in, but as it is, I have no idea where it came from. I certainly don’t remember purchasing it. I just know that when I went searching for something to read before bed Monday night, this was what I found. I think I started crying about a ten pages in.
It was a good kind of crying though. It’s that kind of crying where it almost feels as if you’ve read this particular story before because you can viscerally recall the exact kind of sadness you’re feeling, and in its familiarity, it’s cozy. I wrapped myself up in it immediately. Here was sadness that I could get comfortable with. It helped that it was raining that night, and I had pushed open the window to hear it. Some books just read better with that particular of soundtrack, you know.
I didn’t even bother to try to finish it for today either. It wasn’t going to happen. I need to live in this strange, broken, beautiful world for more than a day or two. I have to soak in it. I have to steal pages in the morning before I brush my teeth or at lunch while I’m waiting for the car at the mechanic’s. I have to be patient with my sadness because epic and human sorrow deserves that much from me.
My brother and I used to play a game. I’d point to a chair. “THIS IS NOT A CHAIR,” I’d say. Bird would point to the table. “THIS IS NOT A TABLE.” “THIS IS NOT A WALL,” I’d say. “THAT IS NOT A CEILING.” We’d go on like that. “IT IS NOT RAINING OUT.” “MY SHOE IS NOT UNTIED!” Bird would yell. I’d point to my elbow. “THIS IS NOT A SCRAPE.” Bird would lift his knee. “THIS IS ALSO NOT A SCRAPE!” “THAT IS NOT A KETTLE!” “NOT A CUP!” “NOT A SPOON!” “NOT DIRTY DISHES!” We denied whole rooms, years, weathers. Once, at the peak of our shouting, Bird took a deep breath. At the top of his lungs, he shrieked: “I! HAVE NOT! BEEN! UNHAPPY! MY WHOLE! LIFE!” (loc 517)
I need to get back to reading, so go check Nicole Krauss out, and I’ll see you back here Monday. With tissues.