And I’m in Love With This Book

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”  – Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars

I read this to Batman last night. I stopped reading, looked up from where I sat on the recliner and recited these lines. I had to. It’s just one of those things that you can’t hear just once. At least in your head. This paragraph, like so many others in The Fault in Our Stars, need to be repeated, recited and shared. It’s an insult to them if they aren’t because lines like these aren’t meant to pocketed in memory. They’re meant to be revisited. Over and over again, like an old friend.

I’m in love with this book. Is it obvious? I started it on Sunday night and here I am, Tuesday eve and I wonder how I had time to fall into this great, breathtaking love affair. Now I know you’re wondering if I cried. Pretty much everyone who reads the book/sees the movie cried. I thought I was above giving into those basic emotions when reading about a girl with cancer who falls in love. I told you—I believe it was yesterday—that I’d remain strong and I did. Strong enough NOT to cry at my desk. Strong enough to keep reading when I wanted to pretend there might be a different ending, even though the words were right there, on the page in front of me.

It was difficult.

Sometimes you read something and it stays with you an hour, a day, a week. It’s memorable, but with time, it becomes a series of rough points that you sort of remember. Or maybe it’s the feeling you remember. It’s how the material made you feel, what it got you to think. But even that, with time, will fade.  The characters (and their story) in The Fault in Our Stars will stay with me for a while, I’m guessing.  Because good stories, like theirs, aren’t easily erasable. And I don’t want them to be. They exist in a special place that we, the readers, hold secret. It’s a place where all our best friends reside, a place we can always go to seek refuge from reality and, if we’re in need of it, to chase those feelings that made us fall in love in the first place.

I didn’t cry, but I was at work. I had to force myself to keep reading, even though I was torn. Yes, I NEEDED to know what happened, but I also didn’t want to know. Because knowing made it real and the more words that passed, the closer to the end I would get. And that, in itself, is its own sad crime. I’m probably going to reread it again. Mostly because it demands a second read through, but also out of respect. Magical, lyrical lines like the ones that began this post deserve more than one turn to be heard; read. They deserve to live infinitely.

I will say, on a side note, that maybe I took an extra liking to the book because part of it takes place in Amsterdam, which, in my opinion, is a highly magical place. I’ve been twice (once in 2007 and again in 2010) and everything described of the canals and the bikes and the row houses is extremely accurate. (The author, John Green spent a few weeks in the city to write it). Hazel Grace and Augustus even visited the Anne Frank House which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice as well.

Because I can’t physically impart the emotions and love I feel for this book and DEMAND you start reading it today, I’ve included some pictures from my own trips. Hopefully you’ll get to the city. And what’s more, you’ll pick up this book and fall in love with a story you won’t easily erase. Hopefully, Hazel Grace and Augustus will stay with you in your secret space like they are (and will remain) with me.

 

Your basic AMAZING street view. Yeah. Heaven.

Your basic AMAZING street view. Yeah. Heaven.

And another angle.

And another angle.

Breathe it in.

Breathe it in.

The several bikes that you will find EVERYWHERE.

The several bikes that you will find EVERYWHERE.

The Rijksmuseum which is mentioned in the book.

The Rijksmuseum which is mentioned in the book.

So pretty.

So pretty.

Another big building. Awesome.

Another big building. Awesome.

The magical, beautiful night.

The magical, beautiful night.

And the Anne Frank House monument thingy.

And the Anne Frank House monument thingy.

Read it.

And fall in love.

Gossamer

I woke up with one word in my head: gossamer.

Gossamer: a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather; an extremely delicate variety of gauze, used especially for veils; fine spider silk.

There are a few details I remember from my dream last night before Batman’s wonderful screeching alarm alerted us to the new day: I was in a fitting room wearing a very pretty ivory gown that swooshed when I walked over pinkish-peach carpet. There was an old-time automobile repair shop next door with a man in overalls and a red fire truck and a dark purple sunset over the town. And the word gossamer.

I have the weirdest dreams. At times they mean absolutely nothing — just gargled information that seeps past the conscious and burrows deep into my brain like indigestion, only to rise again with no real purpose. But sometimes dreams hold the secret; wisdom I try to grasp in my subconscious knowing that when I wake, the answer will slip from my head and I’ll spend the entire day trying to remember the epiphany I wanted so much not to forget because it was the answer. The answer to what? To it all. To everything.

And I lost it.

But I have gossamer. It was blinding neon silver, a symphony of one note, both the beginning and the end and it was crucial that I remember. Gossamer. And for those of you who think that all dreams mean nothing, just the messed up version of your brain regurgitating crumbly bits of your life — I feel bad for you. You’re lost in this reality and you need to wake up. See the other side for a change, inhale the magic around you. Nothing is coincidence. Nothing is random.

It’s all connected.

Even as I’m sitting here writing this (should be working… but when inspiration strikes…) wanting to know what gossamer really means, Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine comes on Pandora. That means nothing to you but it’s like a shot of adrenaline to my curious mind. Because the cover album for this song is the very image that inspired a certain character’s wardrobe I described as “like the silky strands of a spider’s web.” AS I’m writing about gossamer.

You’re watching me, aren’t you universe? But what are you trying to tell me?

What is it?

The Magic of Being a Kid

It was super tough for me to grow up.

I think a lot of kids wanted to be adults so they didn’t have to listen to their parents and so they could drive cars and eat candy for dinner and never have to clean their room. These things all sounded amazing to me too, but I’m talking about the young-kid to older-kid phase. When you had to stop playing with your toys and start interacting with others, because that’s when they ruined things like telling you there was no Santa Claus and making you believe that whatever you thought was wrong and that you played pretend incorrectly. I don’t know. Maybe I was just friends with assholes.

I just remember feeling ripped apart when I was younger. Being forced to leave this land of ultimate make-believe to join the cruel reality where other people had opinions and rules and knowing I’d never be as free as I was when I could play alone with Barbies in my closet. Does that sound wrong? Or strange? It probably does because most people like being around others, right? And I do too, but I’m also really good at enjoying solitude. It’s like, one of my favorite places. Like now, Batman’s out of town for the weekend and I’m all by myself. And even though I miss looking up from typing to see him yelling at the TV because whatever video game he’s playing is glitching or not obeying his controller commands (I don’t know—he gets very hulkish when he plays his X-Box One) I’m still enjoying the quiet. I miss him, but this isn’t terrible either. This little space in the world is mine. All mine. And I may not be in my closet turning shelves into mountains and Barbies into heroines of great adventures, but I can still tap into that ultimate freedom I had to give up when they put me on the playground and told me to play nice. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense. It probably doesn’t.

My good friend Seattle introduced me to a new blog, Hyperbole and a Half, last week. She’s also the one who told me about The Hunger Games and The Bloggess so I know I can trust her when she recommends something. So I’ve been pouring over this blog on every break and lunchtime that comes available to me. And a lot of her entries reference her childhood and how she rationalized different things that happened. So it got me thinking about my own childhood. How did I enjoy it? DID I enjoy it? Parts of it, yes. Parts of it sucked. Like the transitioning from “oh she’s just a kid, let her enjoy it” to “you’re not a kid anymore. Grow up.” That part really sucked.

I like being an adult—I do. I can eat cereal for dinner and leave my nail polish on the coffee table as long as I damn well please. I can have four glasses of wine and stay up as late as I want and call in sick when I’m really just writing. I can procrastinate doing my laundry and lie in bed all day and see a movie on a Tuesday night if I feel like it. I can make my own life decisions. All these things make me an adult, right? Well good, I’m here. I’ve made it. But sometimes—every once in a while—I miss that early part of childhood, before responsibility falls and your age is an excuse to tell the world to fuck off because you still believe in the tooth fairy and under-the-bed monsters and giant rabbits that deliver eggs every April. It’s that time when anything can exist and it does because the world hasn’t polluted you with reality yet.

You know what I’m talking about. And once that wonderful bubbled illusion pops, you’re never the same. You’re forever locked out of the gate with everyone else, only to stare longingly at how happy you were, wondering how you lived in such blissful ignorance. And the rest of the world meanders away but you can’t go. You just want back in. You want to be reinserted so you stand there gripping the gate rods, knowing that the longer you’re on the outside, the further back in your memory it’ll recede. And you’re afraid you might not remember what it was like.

You’ll forget the magic of being a kid.

Do you remember this place? Remember when the candle went out and the florescent light went on? Was it hard for you? Or did it come naturally, because you always wanted to play with the other kids rather than sit alone in your closet with tubs full of Barbies that were just characters waiting to have their adventures unfold? It was difficult for me.

What about you?