Monday, December 1, 2008

At home...

Monday, December 1, 2008
I have a "home for the holidays" routine that inevitably exasperates my mother. I always find my way back to what we call "the reloading room"-a spot where my dad used to actually reload the bullets for his rifle-which has since become a storeroom of sorts, in the same way one would use an attic. There are countless boxes of keepsakes, books, letters, and other odd items that have belonged to me at some point. I try my very best not to be a pack rat, and I have improved in the past few years, but I do struggle with determining exactly how valuable or memorable an object really is, and I've probably stored much more than necessary. Needless to say, I decided to try to help my mom out by sorting through a few of my boxes, and I was delighted by some of the things I found. Most of the happy surprises were books, which I piled surreptitiously in a corner of my old bedroom, knowing my mom wouldn't be that thrilled to see that I had indeed brought out a pile of books that certainly won't fit in my luggage. I also found an old notebook of mine, the first one to contain handwritten quotes and passages from books I'd read. A secret thrill always overcomes me when I reread words that have touched my heart, and I couldn't resist writing a post about them. After all, my blog is a very neat and tidy way to document memorable things, right?

The first, and best, passage comes from The Quotable Lewis, a wonderful selection of C.S. Lewis quotes that I received many Christmases ago. I love C.S. Lewis-not only was he an incredible man of faith, he was extremely intelligent, a combination of qualities that I value very much. The book has quotes referencing all sorts of topics, but of course the one that I remember most is about love.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

What I found in my notebook were a few hastily scribbled lines from Love in the Time of Cholera, the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that I have actually not finished. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I actually don't remember at all what might have kept me from it. Thus, I cannot truly speak for the story and whether or not it is quite all it's supposed to be. I've heard mixed reviews. All I know is that this speech, declared by Florentino to Fermina, made a strong and immediate impression on me.

But before she could thank him for the visit, he placed his hat over his heart, tremulous and dignified, and the abscess that had sustained his life finally burst. "Fermina," he said, "I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love."

My last find was a mere scrap of paper, stuck in one of my notebooks from school. It was from a class on American Literature, and we had been reading the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I vaguely remember "Rappaccini's Daughter"-I have a foggy sense that it might be about a strange Italian scientist and some sort of venomous plant he created-so I'm not sure of the context of the small quote I'll include here. There is something about the way that Hawthorne pinpointed that unwavering, sometimes nonsensical quality of love.

Oh, how stubbornly does love-or even that cunning semblance of love which flourishes in the imagination, but strikes no depth of root into the heart-how stubbornly does it hold its faith, until the moment comes, when it is doomed to vanish into thin mist!

Clearly, I'm all about the love tonight! What I should really be focusing on is the Aeneid and wondering how I'll be able to churn out a successful paper in one day, but I just can't stay away from the blog. Hopefully, more cooking and pleasure reading will be coming up for me soon-I clearly need more material.

1 comment:

Andrea and Arthur said...

Love the blog. Why is this the first I'm hearing of it????