Real and Not Real

Conversation (1955) by Ossip Zadkine

Conversation (1955) by Ossip Zadkine

23 November 2013
11:33 PM
Manila

M.–

Here is one of my favourite conversations from a novel:

“Do you think you weren’t loved enough?” She tilted her head and looked at me. Then she gave a sharp, little nod. “Somewhere between ‘not enough’ and ‘not at all.’ I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it – to be fed so much love I couldn’t take it anymore. Just once. But they never gave that to me. Never, not once. If I tried to cuddle up and beg for something they’d just shove me away and yell at me. ‘No! That costs too much!’ It’s all I ever heard. So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days of a year. I was still in elementary school at the time – fifth or sixth grade – but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “And did your search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”

– from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I remember the time I read this book–we didn’t have electricity in the house, and I read by candlelight. But I couldn’t put it down, and afterward I felt like I was carrying the whole world inside my chest.

Here is part of my conversation with my friend about turning old:

T: There are days when I forget how old I am. And then when I do remember I’m so surprised, like, where the hell have I been all this time?
R: I expect to be surprised when I turn old. That’s okay with me.
R: What was 22 for you?
T: …I was freaking out a lot. About life.
T: By the time I was 22 I had quit my first and only job ever, had cried publicly twice, danced in front of total strangers in a pub, and whatnot. I was a mess. I mean, I still am. But that year especially was the year I realised that I was an adult, and out of school already, and I had to make grown up choices I guess.
R: Call me crazy, but very little of what I’ve heard from you has ever struck me as particularly messy. Or maybe I’ve never really gotten the concept.
T: Really? I always think I’ve made a mess of everything.
R: I think everyone feels like that. And I think most of the people who don’t feel that way tend to live lives they never chose in the first place.

R: It’s always struck me as more a matter of just being comfortable with being a mess.
T: Well yeah. I do get that. I mean I have days when I don’t have things figured out all that well yet, and I tell myself that it’s okay.
T: But there are days when I’m just–really, a colossal fuck-up. And I get frustrated that I can’t get my shit together. And sometimes I just want to be okay, you know?

T: I feel so…ill-equipped.
R: Well, yeah. I get that too. It’s something I’ve had to learn to fight. It still overcomes me, from time to time.
R: The one thing that’s been best for me is admitting that a lot of the time, it’s just out of my power. Out of my hands. A freak of faulty wiring.

Here is where I sit on my desk as I wait for your reply to my other letter. It is almost two in the morning of the next day, and everybody else is asleep. I say to no one in particular: do I sleep or not sleep?

The dark does not answer back.

Goodnight,
T.

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