Quotes By Great House

“One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn’t, and one of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.”


“There are moments when a kind of clarity comes over you, and suddenly you can see through walls to another dimension that you'd forgotten or chosen to ignore in order to continue living with the various illusions that make life, particularily life with other people, possible.”


“There are times when the kindness of strangers only makes things worse because one realizes how badly one is in need of kindness and that the only source is a stranger.”


“When at last I came upon the right book, the feeling was violent: it blew open a hole in me that made life more dangerous because I couldn't control what came through it.”


“We search for patterns, you see, only to find where the patterns break. And it’s there, in that fissure, that we pitch our tents and wait.”


“...after all, who isn't a survivor from the wreck of childhood?”


“...we take comfort in the symmetries we find in life because they suggest a design where there is none.”


“She struggled with her sadness, but tried to conceal it, to divide it into smaller and smaller parts and scatter these in places she thought no one would find them.”


“I smiled back, the importance of manners, my mother always said, is inversely related to how inclined one is to use them, or, in other words, sometimes politeness is all that stands between oneself and madness.”


“No, what I felt was the torment of waiting, stuck between the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next which might or might not bring a hail storm, plane crash, poetic justice, or a miraculous reversal.”


“There is a fallacy that the powerful emotion of youth mellows with time. Not true. One learns to control and suppress it. But it doesn't lessen. It simply hides and concentrates itself in more discreet places. When one accidentally stumbles into one of these abysses, the pain is spectacular.”


“When I was with Yoav, everything in me that had been sitting stood up. He had a way of looking at me with a kind of unabashed directness that made me shiver. It's something amazing to feel that for the first time someone is seeing you as you really are, not as they wish you, or you wish yourself, to be.”


“Only later did I come to understand that to be a mother is to be an illusion. No matter how vigilant, in the end a mother can't protect her child - not from pain, or horror, or the nightmare of violence, from sealed trains moving rapidly in the wrong direction, the depravity of strangers, trapdoors, abysses, fires, cars in the rain, from chance.”


“Like most music that affects me deeply, I would never listen to it while others were around, just as I would not pass on a book that I especially loved to another. I am embarrassed to admit this, knowing that it reveals some essential lack or selfishness in my nature, and aware that it runs contrary to the instincts of most, whose passion for something leads them to want to share it, to ignite a similar passion in others, and that without the benefit of such enthusiasm I would still be ignorant of many of the books and much of the music I love most... But rather than an expansion, I've always felt a diminishment of my own pleasure when I've invited someone else to take part in it, a rupture in the intimacy I felt with the work, an invasion of privacy. It is worst when someone else picks up the copy of a book I've just been enthralled by and begins casually to thumb through the pages.”


“You’re lost in your own world, in the things that happen there, and you’ve locked all the doors. Sometimes I look at you sleeping. I wake up and look at you and I feel closer to you when you’re like that, unguarded, than when you’re awake. When you’re awake you’re like someone with her eyes closed, watching a movie on the inside of your eyelids. I can’t reach you anymore. Once upon a time I could, but not now, and not for a long time.”


“It wasn't always like this. There was a time when I imagined my life could happen in another way. It's true that early on I became used to the long hours I spent alone. I discovered that I did not need people as others did. After writing all day it took an effort to make conversation, like wading through cement, and often I simply chose not to make it, eating at a restaurant with a book or going for long walks alone instead, unwinding the solitude of the day through the city. But loneliness, true loneliness, is impossible to accustom oneself to, and while I was still young I thought of my situation as somehow temporary, and did not stop hoping and imagining that I would meet someone and fall in love... Yes, there was a time before I closed myself off to others.”


“I’ve always liked the feeling of traveling light; there is something in me that wants to feel I could leave wherever I am, at any time, without any effort. The idea of being weighed down made me uneasy, as if I lived on the surface of a frozen lake and each new trapping of domestic life - a pot, a chair, a lamp - threatened to be the thing that sent me through the ice.”


“. . . she gave him one of those broad smiles she reserved for strangers, as if she were aware of being able to pass, in their eyes, for an ordinary woman.”


“In life we sit at the table and refuse to eat, and in death we are eternally hungry.”


“She struggled with her sadness, but tried to conceal it, to divide it into smaller and smaller parts and scatter these in places she thought no one would find them. But often I did - with time I learned where to look - and tried to fit them together. It pained me that she felt she couldn't come to me with it, but I knew it would hurt her more to know that I'd uncovered what she hadn't intended for me to find. In some fundamental way I think she objected to being known. Or resented it even as she longed for it. It offended her sense of freedom. But it isn't possible to simply look upon a person one loves in tranquility, content to regard her in bafflement.”


“But loneliness, true loneliness, is impossible to accustom oneself to, and while I was still young I thought of my situation as somehow temporary, and did not stop hoping and imagining that I would meet someone and fall in love...Yes, there was a time before I closed myself off to others.”


“All my life I have arrived early only to find myself standing self-consciously on a corner, outside a door, in an empty room, but the closer I get to death the earlier I arrive, the longer I am content to wait, perhaps to give myself the false sensation that there is too much time rather than not enough.”


“Sometimes, waking early before the others, wandering the rooms wrapped in a blanket or drinking my tea in the empty kitchen, I had that most rare of feelings, the sense that the world, so consistently overwhelming and incomprehensible, in fact has an order, oblique as it may seem, and I a place within it.”


“I won't waste your time with the injuries of my childhood, with my loneliness, or the fear and sadness of the years I spent inside my parents' marriage, under the reign of my father's rage, afer all, who isn't a survivor from the wreck of childhood?”


“...I continued to sit there hour after hour watching the unrelenting rain slosh against the glass, thinking of our life together, Lotte's and mine, how everything in it was designed to give a sense of permanence, the chair against the wall that was there when we went to sleep and there again when we awoke, the little habits that quoted from the day before and predicted the day to come, though in truth it was all just an illusion, just as solid matter is an illusion, just as our bodies are an illusion, pretending to be one thing when really they are millions upon millions of atoms coming and going, some arriving while others are leaving us forever, as if each of us were only a great train station, only not even that since at least in a train station the stones and the tracks and the glass roof stay still while everything else rushes through it, no, it was worse than that, more like a giant empty field where every day a circus erected and dismantled itself, the whole thing from top to bottom, but never the same circus, so what hope did we really have of ever making sense of ourselves, let alone one another?”


“Our kiss was niticlimactic. It wasn't that the kiss was bad, but it was just a note of punctuation in our long conversation, a parenthetical remark made in order to assure each other of a deeply felt agreement, a mutual offer of companionship, which is so much more rare than sexual passion or even love.”


“There was no one to call me to bed, no one to demand that the rhythms of my life operate in a duet.”


“There are times when the kindness of strangers only makes matter worse because one realizes how badly one is in need of kindness and that the only source is a stranger.”


“Alone in my room, wrapped in a blanket, I whimpered and talked aloud to myself, recalling the lost glory of my youth when I considered myself, and was considered by others, a bright and capable person. It seemed that was all gone now.”