Quotes from What I Was

Meg Rosoff ·  209 pages

Rating: (3.7K votes)


“And still the brain continues to yearn, continues to burn, foolishly, with desire. My old man's brain is mocked by a body that still longs to stretch in the sun and form a beautiful shape in someone else's gaze, to lie under a blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love, to behold itself, illuminated, in the golden light of another's eyes.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“I felt a momentary urge to leap into the sea and swim free of the present. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“At the time, I didn't have the insight to wonder at the transient nature of despair, but now that I'm older I've seen how little it takes to turn a person's life around for better or worse. An event will do, or an Idea. Another person. An idea of a person. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“It's a strange sensation to live inside another person's life, to wonder all the time what he is doing, or thinking or feeling.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“It's not that he lacked poetry. But his poetry was of the body, not the mind. He spoke it in the way he moved, the way he held a hammer, rowed a boat, built a fire. I, on the other hand, was like a brain in a box, a beating heart in a coal scuttle. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was



“I'm a century old, an impossible age, and my brain has no anchor in the present. Instead it drifts, nearly always to the same shore. Today, as most days, it is 1962. The year I discovered love.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“Such a courageous boy I was. To act brazenly under scrutiny and risk further injury to my wounded heart. Ah, the resilience, the blind, dumb persistence of youth. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“It was not a big smile, not particularly bold or polite or ironic or glib, not asking for anything or offering anything, not stringy or careless, not, in short, like any smile I had ever experienced before. But such a smile! You could burn a hole in the world with that smile.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“it was love, of course, though I didn't know it then and Finn was both its subject and object. He accepted love instinctively, without responsibility or conditions, like a wild thing glimpsed through trees. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“If you have the patience to wait and watch, history will reshape truth (weakest of all forces, and weightless) in the image of opinion. What really happened will cease to matter and, eventually, cease to exist. ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was



“The featureless trundle of my existence began to change. At the time, I didn't have the insight to wonder at the transient nature of despair, but now that I'm older I've seen how little it takes to turn a person's life around for better or worse. An event will do, or an idea. Another person. An idea of a person ”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“As it was, nothing happened except the two of us watching the sea come in and go out again, listening to the birds, sheltering from the rain when it came, and lying silent as the sky changed from blue to white to gold. For hours we lay side by side, breathing softly together, watching thin rivulets of water run down the cliffs and into the sea, feeling the world slowly revolve around us as we leaned into each other for warmth--and for something else, something I couldn't quite name, something glorious, frightening, and unforgettable.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“I studied Finn the way another boy might have studied history, determined to memorize his vocabulary, his movements, his clothes, what he said, what he did, what he thought. What ideas circulated in his head when he looked distracted? What did he dream about?

But most of all what I wanted was to see myself through his eyes, to define myself in relation to him, to sift out what was interesting in me (what he must have liked, however insignificant) and distill it into a purer, bolder, more compelling version of myself.

The truth is, for that brief period of my life I failed to exist if Finn wasn't looking at me. And so I copied him, strove to exist the way he existed: to stretch, languid and graceful when tired, to move swiftly and with determination when not, to speak rarely and with force, to smile in a way that rewarded the world.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“In my opinion, this school and its contemporaries were nothing more than cheap merchants of social status, selling an inflated sense of self-worth to middle-class boys of no particular merit.

I will, however, grant them something. Without the first school, I would not have ended up at the second. Without the second, I would not have attended St Oswald's. Without St Oswald's, I would not have met Finn.

Without Finn, there would be no story.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“Even then I knew that happiness was something in which to plunge headlong, and damn the torpedoes”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was



“Not to mention the loneliness. And at the same time, the crowdedness. The never being really alone, just to think, to rest or to do something private - anything private. You can`t even got to toilet in private. And if you want company, real company, not just people hanging about making a noise, that`s when you realize how lonely you are.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“Trying to think inside Finn's head was like committing what our English master called Pathetic Fallacy, the attribution of human emotions to boulders or trees.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“Though we were all taught to be proud of living in this great parliamentary democracy the civil servants who ran it were a fearsome bunch - a nameless mass of people with jobs (police, social workers, record-keepers, teachers, councilmen) whose sole purpose was to keep everyone shuffling from birth to death in a nice orderly queue. Surely some social-service record had been passed to the local constabulary bearing a huge black question mark beside the name Finn and the scrawled words, " Why isn't this boy in school”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“The closer Finn`s island come to extinction, the more I wandered back in my mind to the lives that come before us, the huts and the houses, the remains of animals and clothing, the coins and the latrines and cooking pots, the messages from the past left in bones and kitchen dumps. And the people.
Sometimes I thought about the content of those lives, the intangible things that leave no fossils and no marks, no history. Would people from the future excavate traces of passion? Of hope, disappointment, despair? Or would the entire human race end up drowned and forgotten, buried under waves of melting ice, with no on left to dig us up or wonder at what was or what might have been?”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“What else? A handful of hard white sugar lumps from the supply for the master's table. Sugar and cake and blood and pork. That's what little boys are made of.
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was



“I was touched that he has considered the fact that there would be two of us, and prepared for it - concrete evidence that I had entered his consciousness at a time when I was not standing in front of him. A thrilling discovery - like seeing a chimp make tools.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“I never exactly made a decision about what come next. It come over me slowly, ticking quietly at the back of my consciousness for the longest time before I even noticed it was there. But I was halfway to the decision already, living in a hut, becoming what I loved.
You would think there`d be a rule to go with that thought, but I had to run way from rules.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“I should have liked this particular story to end with me settled happily ever after in the hut on the island, but it didn't happen. It wasn't long before I had to face the fact that I was living in the sea.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


“I hate you, I thought, I hate you with your bloody nature-boy airs and your bloody forced-march voyage of bloody discovery. I wondered then if Finn's personality worked on everyone, or whether I had just the the right sort of mentality to fall in step with a self-centered hermit-boy crab murderer.”
― Meg Rosoff, quote from What I Was


About the author

Meg Rosoff
Born place: in Boston, The United States
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