Anna Quindlen · 252 pages
Rating: (44.1K votes)
“Then when she really thought about it she realized she’d been becoming different people for as long as she could remember but had never really noticed, or had put it down to moods, or marriage, or motherhood. The problem was that she’d thought that at a certain point she would be a finished product.”
“It's a funny thing, hope. It's not like love, or fear, or hate. It's a feeling you don't really know you had until it's gone.”
“It had turned out that climbing a tree was more difficult than it looked. It was harder than warrior pose in yoga, than teaser in Pilates, than the elliptical or the Reformer. Rebecca thought that if no one had thought of it yet, soon enough someone in the city would spearhead a craze for tree climbing in Central and Prospect Parks, and it would become the talk of every cocktail party: have you tried that large oak by the Sheep Meadow? Oh, it’s completely changed my body.”
“One day she had been out walking and she had wondered whether she had become a different person in the last year,.... Then when she really thought about is she realized she'd been becoming different people for as long as she could remember but had never really noticed, or had put it down to moods, or marriage, or motherhood. The problem was that she'd thought that at a certain point she would be a finished product. Now she wasn't sure what that might be, especially when she considered how sure she had been about it at various times in the past, and how wrong she'd been.”
“Maybe that was true of marriage everywhere. Between times, in their own living rooms, the men seemed to be resting for the next round of pontificating and so saved their strength by staying silent.”
“It was funny, what friendship meant in Rebecca’s world. It mainly meant lunch, twice a year, and the occasional dinner party, except for Dorothea, who was an old school friend, a genuine friend. Rebecca had realized, ruefully, that she should have made more friends in school; they seemed to be the only ones women really talked to honestly because the shared history meant fewer lies were available to them. With the others shared meals had become a substitute for intimacy, but not the kind of substitute that allowed for dark nights of the soul, calls at 1:00 A.M., tears and drinking and despair in pajamas.”
“She is a prisoner in the amber of her own past.”
“How many times had she heard women in New York - maybe women everywhere, for all she knew - speak lyrically of how they wouldn't see friends for months, perhaps even years, and then it was as though they had never been apart. "Picked up where we left off" was the common phrase. It was supposed to signal some magical communion, but if you looked it right in the eye, it came down to this: the kinds of people they considered friends they might not even actually see for a long long time.”
“The next day, eating a turkey sandwich with salt and mayonnaise, Rebecca decided Thanksgiving was the best holiday, although she had little to choose from: her family never celebrated Hanukkah but her father was militant about ignoring Christmas and insisted they spend December 25 eating Chinese takeout and going to the movies.”
“You may admire, even love those photographs, but you don't look at them and think What happened next? They have an immutable quality - that's their strength and power. But there's no question embedded in them. There's a question embedded in all your work, that sense of 'what happens next.”
“There were a thousand ways to imagine someone unhappy and so few ways to imagine someone contented.”
“He sold his watch to buy her combs, and she sold her hair to buy a watch chain.”
“easing up on seventy, an age when a man might be forgiven follicular failure.”
“she had violated one of the basic tenets of any competent cook: she had purchased a turkey without comparing its size to the size of her oven.”
“They were photographs you had to explain, which meant they were a failure.”
“People froze you in place... More important, you froze yourself, often into a person in whom you truly had no interest. So you had a choice: you could continue a masquerade, or you could give up on it.”
“the two dresses she’d brought with her in case of—well, just in case—stood in the corner of her closet like guests who have come to the wrong party and are backing out the door.”
“It’s a funny thing, hope. It’s not like love, or fear, or hate. It’s a feeling you don’t really know you had until it’s gone.”
“she had the odd sense that she had been missing something, seeing the world flat when everything was rounded.”
“she had certainly learned about not having enough money, which is different from being poor.”
“Coincidentally the couple who had endowed it had lived in her parents’ building. They had had an eight-year-old with a pretty singing voice who drowned at a Maine summer camp. “You can’t imagine what happened,” said Sarah, but of course Rebecca could imagine. Being a boy soprano had a shorter shelf life than being a supermodel. She could almost see it as Sarah went on and on, the boy with the pale blue eyes, insensible to the hormones coursing through his body as he stood on the stage at Alice Tully Hall. Apparently his choir director had chosen “Old Man River,” sung not in the bass range made famous by Paul Robeson, or in the dialect in which it had been written, but in a high register with crisp consonants. (To be fair to the choir director, he had never”
“Sometimes things have to come when you’re ready for them.”
“Other people used photographs as a way to keep close to the events of their lives; she had used them as a way to stand apart. She had never looked at the Kitchen Counter series and remembered the days before and after, the grocery shopping or the leftovers in the refrigerator, didn't look at the photographs of Ben's action figures or even the plateau of his baby back and think of which toys he'd preferred or when those faint dimples at the base of his spine had given way to the firmer flesh of childhood. She'd denatured parts of her own existence by printing and framing and freezing them.”
“In the woods it was not so much that it was quiet as that the few sounds were loud and distinct, not the orchestra tuning-up of the city but individual grace notes. Birdcalls broken into pieces like a piano exercise, a tree branch snapping sharp and then swishing down and thump on the ground, the hiss of water coming off the mountain.”
“She felt some strange yearning, but she couldn't decide what it was for. Not for the city: it seemed like another country to her now, remembered, not felt. She knew if she were there, walking past the market with its glistening stacks of fruit that sometimes rolled onto the pavement, stepping into the pharmacy for overpriced shampoo and body cream, passing the windows full of nice clothes like the clothes she already has (once she got a linen blouse home only to discover that she owned one almost exactly like it), she would be convinced that she could no longer stand to be be away, that she missed it all terribly. But from here that life seemed unreal, like something she saw in a movie. She wondered if that's how her grandparents had managed to leave the old country behind, whether it had ceased to exist as a discernible thing once it was gone along the watery horizon, whether they had told themselves that some day they would come back to reclaim it.”
“Occasionally Rebecca wished her son would not be so very kind to her, as though she was the losing pitcher on a Little League team.”
“...the world is full of peculiar”
“She had gone to a dinner party in her honor the night before the opening, and everyone had asked, with precisely the same intonation, as though it was a piece of urban Gregorian chant, "Where have you been?”
“but she had certainly learned about not having enough money, which is different from being poor.”
“For the rest of her life Rebecca Winter would apprehend the rumble of a truck engine in deep silence, or anything dimly like it, even the rhythmic solo roll of a kettledrum in a symphonic passage, as the soothing sound of salvation.”
“Nobody knows you.
You don't know yourself.
And I, who am half in love with you,
What am I in love with?
My own imaginings?”
“Like sometimes when you go to a movie and you get so lost in the story that when you’re walking out of the theater you can’t remember anything at all about your own life.”
“How do you know I am capable of love?” she asked as they walked toward her car. “Steady affection perhaps.” “If by steady you mean faithful, there you have it; the kernel of love. I imagine men long for God because of that unchanging faithfulness. The rock under the quicksands. The Psalms are full of it.” When”
“what was it they called you? It’s on the tip of my tongue. It was something to do with cats and large amounts of body fat…”
“whether the psychological problem is big or little, the cure comes when one learns to quit drawing negative form one's memory bank and withdraws positive instead”
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