Wednesday, November 23, 2005

inevitability and invention

I was supposed to fly home to New York this morning and instead I ended up on the Eurostar train from Paris to London. It wasn't an accident. Technically, I don't have to go home until next week because it's Thanksgiving break and I don't have class for another week. Robert had to come back to London for work and a few days ago he asked if I would come with him and I kept vacillating, uncommitted, until last night when I could suddenly see myself, so clearly, unlocking the door of the New York apartment and setting down my suitcase, taking off my boots, watering the plants, drinking a glass of water and wondering what in the hell I was doing back when I could have stayed with him. Also, you know, I have two massive papers to write for my lit class and I decided I'd get more work done if I didn't leave. Seriously. Two post-goodbye funk days spent in a fetal position on my futon wouldn't put much a of a dent in my scholarly pursuits. It makes so much more sense to lie around and make out by the fireplace in Paris.

Except, Toto, we're not in Paris anymore. The sun went down in London today before four in the afternoon and Robert is at work and I am back, four flights up, working on the outline for my first paper. An examination of the thematic pairing of memory and desire in Love in the Time of Cholera and The Lover. So far, I've come up with some key passages from each and the thought that memory enhances the experience of desire because in real time, a love affair plays out once while in memory, it unfolds over and over again, unending. Talking about this makes me feel like I'm high. So I just took a break to eke out a tiny list of groceries that I'm about to buy:

orange juice
plain yoghurt
pink lady apples

I'm on my own tonight because Rob has a business dinner. Yesterday we went to the market on rue Montorguiell and cooked dinner at home. Roasted onions and carrots. Sauteed scallops and mesclun and tomatoes. Salmon with sage from the garden and honey. Champagne and red wine and glasses of water. Brebis blue cheese with slices of ripe pear. Robert looked at me from across the dining room table and said, "Isn't this a beautiful life we have?" --

I know, writing it now, and even in that moment, that it sounds like sort of thing that people shouldn't say. But it was true. It was especially true because the last few days alone together there were so precious and rare. There was no one we had to see, no place to which we had to report, no alarm clock, no constraints other than Robert's work and my reading. In my head I keep trying to turn my "have-to's" into "get-to's", as in turning the obligation of my paper-writing into a privilege. The grade is a non-issue, the contents of the papers will be seen by only my professor and whomever else has the interest in reading them. I have struggled somewhat with this class, feeling that I am not intellectual enough to offer opinions on Proust, et al. The truth is that I am proud and relieved to have taken this course because speaking about books, about great books, is something I want to feel comfortable doing. The only thing that has stopped me are my opinion of myself and also the heretofore lack of discipline in reading them. Ha! Three weeks from today (and thirty pages of literary analysis later), I'll be sliding right back into bed with some fat chick lit.

Oooh! All the Christmas lights outside are sparkling! And I HAVE to come up with three pages of paper in the next hour and a half. I must, I must, I must increase list?


Blogger Urban Barbara said...

what is your email? mine is
let's exchange tel numbers
would love to meet you sat

7:37 AM  
Anonymous camille said...

I should come and visit you there next year. I can stay in my aunt's house in Streatham and I can come and spend the days with you talking, walking, shopping, writing. I am supposed to go to Slovenia next year. Maybe I will come to London and then pop over to Slovenia for a few days. I want to do a lot of travelling next year.

9:38 PM  

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