“Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.”-loc7 Preface quoted Bunny Mcbride
“I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.
Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam, singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.
I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is-a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”-loc 52
“My parents left Ireland in hopes of a brighter future, all of us believing we were on our way to a land of plenty. As it happened, they failed in this new land, failed in just about every way possible. It may have been that they were weak people, ill suited for the rigors of emigration, its humiliations and compromises, its competing demands of self-discipline and adventurousness. But I wonder how things might have been different if my father was part of a family business that gave him structure and a steady place for a man like him-or if my mother had been surrounded by women, sisters and nieces, perhaps, who could have provided relief from destitution and loneliness, a refuge from strangers.”-loc 495
“‘Be careful, dear,’ she says, running a light finger over my stitches. ‘Take the time to make them small and even. Remember, somebody will wear this, probably over and over until it’s worn through. A lady wants to feel pretty, no matter how much money she has.'”-loc 1531
“I listen to Mr. Sorenson and nod politely as he talks, but it’s hard to concentrate. I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside. It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”-loc 1625
“Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve lived almost seven decades since then is irrelevant. Those years have nothing to do with the questions you ask.….
What did you choose to take with you? What did you leave behind? What insights did you gain?“-loc 2514
“She has never tried to find out what happened to her family-her mother or her relatives in Ireland. But over and over, Molly begins to understand as she listens to the tapes, Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting out most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.”-loc 2522
“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other. I like the coffee hour with almond cake and snickerdoodles in the vestry. And I like being associated with the Nielsens, who seem to be generally regarded as fine, upstanding citizens. For the first time in my life, the glow of other people’s approval extends to, and envelops, me.”-loc 2732
“Just after midnight, the street outside the hotel is lit up but empty, like a stage set before the actors appear.”-loc 3281
About a year ago, I hustled a trip back to SoCal, booked the flight ticket a week before leaving, texted to the one I was going there for right after the confirmation letter arrived in my inbox. My flight there was partially Paul Kalanithi partially an endless waiting. The suitcase was packed two days before I leave. No need for a huge prep for a week’s trip, no matter how far is it.
I’ve found out, only recently, how embarrassing it is where modern technology leads us to, you know, like the sausage in between two bread buns one stands for the past, another for the future. We are so in between that an eleven hours across continent flight plus a four hours overlap plus a one hour in state flight seems like a distance neither too long for you to feel those critical tiny feelings which forms the tipping point of our future, nor too short for you to be straight minded casting away your kindness and patience and sympathy towards something you had already denied.
So I’ve been putting up so many photos, pieces and fragments, onto that album titled “the assignment album” with all letters lower cased. Then you see also, how moments rolling into days, days into years, years into decades, (?) decades into life. (will they?)
My new scheduled departure date is again approaching, but I haven’t told you that I had been stop hopping and hoping. That around trip we talked about to Alpha Centuri, it probably wouldn’t close the gap, but it once burnt my flesh and now still flicking in the back of my hand.
I’ve got tons of homework for myself, about the museums, about coffee shops, about apartment homes, about many of the upcoming cheering reunion, about my ocean, about the wind…but here it comes, again I cannot devote to the homework. Maybe I won’t be packing until the day before setting off. And there is only one thing haunting throughly, piercing the peaceful nights, creating dreams of my childhood best friend and secret assassin plans and monsters about to devour half of this world, it goes like will you come back will you come back will you come back will you come back will you come back will you come back for home or just for me will you…not even a question.
I see you like trimming stuff, for those physical trims, you never failed. But I had laughed at your failure on trimming the intangible. Lines of lines of encrypted codes, converging into a small potato chip, in Super Bowl, others’ holiday makes no difference in our lives. But your lines, they do converge onto the chip, and it failed you. You made a joke on that, instead of laughing, I laughed at the failure. Such an Ahole I was when we first met.
I bought many gifts, boxes of chocolate, nights open for going out with anyone available in sight, night dresses, lip gloss, instruments paints brushes not for art but for killing time, never enough for all things in my plan by then, so abundant and skinny when I’m left all alone.
You don’t know the room, do you? The one he held her entering into, the shadows casted on the wall, an empty room full of light that makes time sacred. That’s when a moment becomes forever. It happened before. I sing that song a lot in the summer, now don’t you understand that I’m never changing who I am. I thought it’s easy to stop at the moment and never look back, but I was so wrong that I bear all those wronged ideas you may have about me. The faked world of the adults you opened up for me, surprisingly and sadly, doesn’t looks like what Neil described. Even it is a lie, I still go a long way behind for its complexity, for holding up the fervent expectation to find something relevant or could be consider as your creator. Now don’t get me wrong again, this is just “spiritual”, I’m not even as half religious as you are. But faith is contagious.
Back to my homework, it never get to the top of my list just because I know the answer to the chapter quiz is coming and I don’t want to overthink it.
Do you think it’ll be misty while I’m around?