“I wondered why I hadn't loved that day more, why I hadn't savored every bit of it...why I hadn't known how good it was to live so normally, so everyday. But you only know that, I suppose, after it's not normal and every day any longer.”
“You make concessions when you're married a long time that you don't believe you'll ever make when you're beginning. You say to yourself when you're young, oh, I wouldn't tolerate this or that or the other thing, you say love is the most important thing in the world and there's only one kind of love and it makes you feel different than you feel the rest of the time, like you're all lit up. But time goes by and you've slept together a thousand nights and smelled like spit-up when babies are sick and seen your body droop and get soft. And some nights you say to yourself, it's not enough, I won't put up with another minute. And then the next morning you wake up and the kitchen smells like coffee and the children have their hair all brushed and the birds are eating out of the feeder and you look at your husband and he's not the person you used to think he was but he's your life. The house and the children and so much more of what you do is built around him and your life, too, your history. If you take him out it's like cutting his face out of all the pictures, there's a big hole and it's ugly. It would ruin everything. It's more than love, it's more important than love...
It's hard. And it's hard to understand unless you're in it. And it's hard for you to understand now because of where you are and what you're feeling. But I wanted to say it...because I won't be able to say it when I need to, when it's one of those nights and you're locking the front door because of foolishness about romance, about how things are supposed to be. You can be hard, and you can be judgmental, and with those two things alone you can make a mess of your life the likes of which you won't believe. It's so much easier...the being happy. It's so much easier, to learn to love what you have instead of yearning always for what you're missing, or what you imagine you're missing. It's so much more peaceful.”
“After my mother died, I had a feeling that was not unlike the homesickness that always filled me for the first few days when I went to stay at my grandparents'' house, and even, I was stunned to discover, during the first few months of my freshman year at college. It was not really the home my mother had made that I yearned for. But I was sick in my soul for that greater meaning of home that we understand most purely when we are children, when it is a metaphor for all possible feelings of security, of safety, of what is predictable, gentle, and good in life.”
“All of life like a series of tableaux, and in the living we missed so much, hid so much, left so much undone and unsaid.”
“A week in the hospital she had told us. A hysterectomy, she had said. It had seemed unremarkable to me in a woman of forty-six long finished with childbearing, although every day that I grow older I realize there is never anything unremarkable about losing any part of what makes you female - a breast, a womb, a child, a man.”
“Falling apart is curling up into a fetal position and staying in bed for a week. What you were doing is having the emotional response an individual has to the loss of someone they love. We cry to give voice to our pain.”
“When someone asks you where you come from, the answer is your mother...When your mother's gone, you've lost your past. It's so much more than love. Even when there's no love, it's so much more than anything else in your life. I did love my mother, but I didn't know how much until she was gone.”
“My mother spoke, alive again inside my brain...She spoke and I listened to her, because I was afraid if I didn't her voice would gradually fade away, an evanescent wraith of a thing that would narrow to a pinpoint of light and then go out, lost forever, like the Tinker Bell if no one clapped for her.”
“I know from experience that those least capable of truly assessing any marriage are the children who come out of it. We style them as we need them, to excuse our faults, to insulate ourselves from our own expendability or indispensability.”
“It's funny, isn't it, what will make you break? Your lover moves to London and falls in love with a news reader for the BBC and you feel fine and then one day you raise your umbrella slightly to cross Fifty-seventh Street and stare into the Burberry shop and begin to sob. Or your baby dies at birth and five years later, in an antique store, a small battered silver rattle with teeth marks in one end engraved with the name Emily lies on a square of velvet, and the sobs escape from the genie's bottle somewhere deep in your gut where they've lain low until then. Or the garbage bag breaks.”
“There is only room in the lifeboat of your life for one, and you always choose yourself, and turn your parents into whatever it takes to keep you afloat.”
“As I looked at [my future husband] I realized that, while I would never be my mother nor have her life, the lesson she had left was that it was possible to love and care for a man and still have at your core a strength so great that you never even needed to put it on display.”
“Our parents are never people to us, never, they're always traits, Achilles' heels, dim nightmares, vocal tics, bad noses, hot tears, all handed down and us stuck with them. Our dilemma is utter: turn and look at this woman, understand and pity her, like and talk with her, recognize that she has taken the cold cleanliness of the spartan rooms in which she grew up and turned them, with her considerable and perhaps wounded heart, into a lifelong burst of cooking and cosseting and making her own little corner of the world pretty and welcoming, and the separation is complete - but when that happens you will have to be an adult. There is only room in the lifeboat of your life for one, and you always choose yourself, and turn your parents into whatever it takes to keep you afloat.”
“I'm fine," she said. But her smile was bleak, without light or warmth. And for the first time I thought of what it must be like to know that you were going to die, that the trees would bud, flower, leaf, dry, die, and you would not be there to see any of it.”
“Whenever one of you guys says people deal with bad stuff in their own way, it means you don't deal with it at all. You just wait for it to go away. You don't help. You don't listen. You don't call. You don't write. WE deal with it in our own way. WE deal with it. We girls. We make the meals and clean up the messes and take the crap and listen to you talk about how you're dealing with it in your own way. What way? No way!”
“That was the old Ellen Gulden, the girl who would walk over her mother in golf shoes, who scared students away from writing seminars, who started work on Monday after graduating from Harvard with honors on a Thursday, who loved the moments in the office when she would look out at the impenetrable black of the East River, starred with the reflected lights of Queens, with only the cleaning crew for company, and think of her various superiors out at dinner parties and restaurants and her various similars out at downtown clubs or cheap but authentic places in Chinatown and say to herself, 'I'm getting ahead.' That Ellen Gulden, the one her boss suspected of using the dying-mother ploy to get more money or a better job title, would have covered every inch of [this datebook] with the frantic scribble of unexamined ambition.”
“It's so much easier, to learn to love what you have instead of yearning always for what you're missing, or what you imagine you're missing. It's so much more peaceful.”
“All the things we don’t say, all the words we swallow, and it makes nothing but trouble.”
“For so long I'd thought about myself as a girl who'd walked away from her mother's life that it would be a long time before I would start to think about the other part of the bargain, how easily she'd let me go.”
“Δεν πρόκειται να νιώσετε καλύτερα για πολύ καιρό από τώρα, δεσποινίς Γκάλντεν, για πολύ καιρό, και το ξέρετε αυτό καλύτερα από μένα. Αλλά αρνούμαι να πιστέψω ότι όταν καταπνίγετε την οδύνη σας νιώθετε καλύτερα απ' ότι όταν κλαίτε.”
“Φαντάσου πώς είναι να υπαγορεύεις σε κάποιον τα λόγια που θέλεις να γράψεις στο μυθιστόρημά σου, ή να του λες πού να βάλει το γαλάζιο και πώς να το ανακατέψει με λευκό για τις άκρες ενός σύννεφου στο τοπίο που ζωγραφίζεις, και θα καταλάβεις πώς ήταν για τη μητέρα μου να κάθεται στην καρέκλα μπροστά στο έλατο, που τόσα χρόνια αφ' ότου φυτεύτηκε ως δενδρύλιο, είχε φτάσει πια στα έξι μέτρα, και να κατευθύνει τις αδέξιες προσπάθειές μου να τοποθετήσω τα στολίδια της εκεί ακριβώς που τα ήθελε.”
“Το σπιτικό της Κέιτ Γκάλντεν λίγο λίγο διαλυόταν, μεταφερόταν στο μέρος όπου κατοικούν προηγούμενες τέλειες ζωές, ίσως για να ζήσει συντροφιά με την παλιά Έλεν Γκάλντεν που, για πρωινό έτρωγε φιλοδοξίες και για μεσημεριανό όποιον τύχαινε να μπει εμπόδιο στο δρόμο της.”
“Δεν υπάρχει τίποτα που ξέρεις εσύ για τον πατέρα σου και δεν το ξέρω και εγώ.”
“Οι γονείς μας ποτέ δεν είναι άνθρωποι στα μάτια μας, ποτέ·είναι απλώς γνωρίσματα του χαρακτήρα, ιδιομορφίες της φωνής, άσχημες μύτες, καυτά δάκρυα, αχίλλιες πτέρνες, οι θολοί εφιάλτες μας. Όλα κληροδοτημένα, κι εμείς εγκλωβισμένοι σ' αυτά. Το δίλημμά μας είναι τρομερό: γύρνα και κοίταξε αυτή τη γυναίκα, κατανοήσέ την και λυπήσου την, συμπάθησέ την και μίλα της, αναγνώρισε ότι τα ψυχρά πεντακάθαρα δωμάτια μέσα στα οποία μεγάλωσε τα μετέτρεψε, μέσα στη μεγάλη και πληγωμένη της ίσως καρδιά, σε χώρους για ισόβιο οργασμό μαγειρέματος και κανακέματος και φροντίδας προκειμένου να κάνει τη μικρή γωνία του δικού της κόσμου ωραία και φιλόξενη, και τότε ο διαχωρισμός είναι πλήρης - όταν όμως συμβεί αυτό, εσύ πρέπει να είσαι ενήλικας. Μέσα στη σωσίβια λέμβο της ζωής σου υπάρχει χώρος μόνο για έναν, κι εσύ πάντα επιλέγεις τον εαυτό σου, και μετατρέπεις τους γονείς σου σε ό,τι χρειάζεσαι για να κρατηθείς στην επιφάνεια.”
“Η ειρωνεία ήταν ότι λίγο πριν αρρωστήσει, ήμουν απολύτως βέβαιη ποια ήμουν και τι ήθελα. Ήμουν η κόρη του Τζόρτζ Γκάλντεν και ήθελα να τον κάνω να μ' αγαπήσει. Και, από πολλές απόψεις, εξακολουθώ να του μοιάζω. Είμαι όμως και το τελευταίο επιζών μέλος της Λέσχης Βιβλίου και του Ομίλου Μαγειρικής των Κοριτσιών Γκάλντεν· αυτό δε θα το ξεχάσω ποτέ, ούτε και θα είμαι ποτέ η ίδια πια. Ποτέ ξανά δε θα πω ότι η Άννα έπραξε σωστά όταν έκλεισε την πόρτα πίσω της και ακολούθησε τον Βρόνσκι· πάντα θα σκέφτομαι το μικρό Σεριόζα να τρέμει στο διάδρομο, περιμένοντας τη μαμά να γυρίσει, όπως περιμένω κι εγώ μερικές φορές τη δικιά μου, σηκώνοντας διστακτικά το ακουστικό για να τηλεφωνήσω και μετά θυμάμαι ότι η γυναίκα με την οποία έχω ανάγκη να μιλήσω είναι νεκρή εδώ και μια δεκαετία περίπου.
Η μητέρα μου με σημάδεψε στο τέλος, κι έτσι τώρα μπορώ να βλέπω τον πατέρα μου, όπως τον έβλεπε εκείνη, με θαυμασμό και, ταυτόχρονα, με κρυφό οίκτο. Ο πατέρας μου δεν είναι κακός. Απλώς είναι αδύναμος.”
“Η αλήθεια όμως είναι ότι δεν είχα καταλάβει πόση δύναμη έκρυβε μέσα της. Και αφού η εκτίμησή μου για κείνη ήταν τόσο λανθασμένη, αναρωτιέμαι τώρα πόσο συχνά και η εκτίμησή μου για τον εαυτό μου ήταν τελείως λάθος. Και πόσο λανθασμένη μπορεί να ήταν η δική της εκτίμηση για τη μητέρα της, και η δική του για τον πατέρα του· σε τι βαθμό, τελικά, η οικογενειακή ζωή είναι ένα πελώριο πλέγμα παρεξηγήσεων, μια χρωματισμένη και ρετουσαρισμένη οικογενειακή φωτογραφία, μια ακριβής αναπαράσταση γεγονότων της ζωής που το μόνο που δεν περιλαμβάνει είναι η ουσιαστική αλήθεια.”
“I think that the people I know now believe I went home to take care of my mother because I loved her. And sometimes I believe that was in my heart without my knowing it. But the truth is that I felt I had no choice. I felt I had to be what my father wanted me to be, even if it was something so unlike the other Ellen he’d cultivated and tutored for all those years, even if it meant that I had to go from his brightest student to his demi-wife. I had to prove that, unlike Pound and Fitzgerald, I had a heart.”
“All my life I had known one thing for sure about myself, and that was that my life would never be her life. I had moved as far and as fast as I could; now I was back at my beginning.”
“I was sick in my soul for that greater meaning of home that we understand most purely when we are children, when it is a metaphor for all possible feelings of security, of safety, of what is predictable, gentle, and good in life. During”
“If he does it again, you have my permission to break his legs and arms and make him believe he’s a rodeo clown from Walla Walla,” I promised. “We can make him call himself Slappy the Wonder Clown.”
“Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.”
“People do get hypnotized by the hard choices and stop looking at the alternatives. The will to be stupid is a powerful force”
“Do not be seduced by those big-box come-ons, full of “complete sets” of extraneous cookware. A complete set is whatever you need, and maybe all you need is a wok and a hot place to grill your bacon. In a pinch, I can do it all with my good heavy nonstick frying pan. Besides the obvious braising, browning, and frying, I can make sauces and stir-fries in it, toast cheese sandwiches and slivered almonds, use the underside to pound cutlets, and in a pinch probably swing it to defend my honor. If I could find a man that versatile and dependable, I’d marry him.”
“Something I would always remember. When you forget how bad it hurts, you feel so free.”
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