At first he was infuriated by his sickness, but eventually he came to regard it as an invaluable lesson that despite your best efforts, sometimes you simply cannot guarantee your own safety. He stopped hating himself.
We set out on an epic journey. Within the first twenty-four hours, we missed our connecting flight, got accused by the Portuguese police of breaking and entering, and slept with one eye open in an apartment crawling with spiders; and still we were undeterred.
Every morning, the same bum would greet her by the stoop in front of her apartment building. His salutation was always the same, to the point that it functioned much like a “hello” now, thought it sounded a bit different: “You think I’m paranoid, don’t you!”
He hated reading bad books. His veneration for the written word was such that it always felt like sacrilege not to finish; but on the other hand, life was too short, and there were too many good books to keep going on a bad one.
It was by accident, she showed up in his town; and he immediately asked, “What are you doing here?” She felt so sad, in the moment, because she knew that no matter what answer she gave, no matter how innocent it might really be, he would never believe her.
He fell ill in Monaco after only one day of sightseeing. The good news was, he’d already seen all the sights there were to see.
I’ve asked over and over again why we began this. I think some reasons maintained themselves, others fell by the wayside, and new ones arose.
Every now and then she still exchanged e-mails with the men she had met whilst traveling. She knew it was a waste of time and would have stopped completely, only it seemed a bit cold and rude.
He always felt strangely envious of people poorer than he was. He considered it a curse that for people with too many choices, there could be a kind of paralysis expressing itself in their aimless drifting, such that luxury overwhelms their abilities to express themselves distinctly in their own lives.
She was too happy to enjoy being happy. She knew it couldn’t last and so spoiled the moment by keeping an eye around the corner to see what might be coming to bust her bubble.
Her mother asked the young girl what sort of relationship she hoped to have when she grew up and was surprised by the force of her answer. It was as idealistic as it was demanding: “I want something inevitable, ineluctable—the rest is settling.”
One morning in Cordoba, brushing my teeth, I thought again of eternity and of absolutely ceasing to exist and I admit I cannot exist conscious of either inevitability—the only way in which I can function is to distract myself from how we all must end. That this idea came to the surface again only proved to me I see the end of this trip—on some level—as a little death, a preview of the real thing, the end of choices, the irrelevance of regret.
He finally understood what literally drove him to distraction: that whatever he’d been waiting for, been waiting to happen, simply hadn’t happened. Whoever was supposed to never showed up.
He resolved that he should just find someone to live all his life out with him and be his physical (if not emotional/mental/spiritual) source of comfort. Then he immediately resolved that that was like taking a person like a drug to ease the pain of reality, and that he didn’t believe it and hadn’t believed it even when he first thought it.
He was often heard lamenting his metabolism and the fact that he could not lose weight. Yet it was difficult for people to make out exactly what he was saying, since this often occurred while his mouth was full of fried green tomatoes.
When she fell very ill, she wanted to go home, and would have gone home. But the fourteen hour flight back seemed as unfathomable as staying around, waiting it out, and carrying on.
When traveling, she loved the big cities without the best museums or theatres. There was something very comforting about generic urbanity: streets crowded with disgruntled locals late on their way somewhere else, the seeming superfluity of two of the same shops appearing on the same block, and the convenience of cheap cafes.
Anytime she was in Italy and ordered a cappuccino after ten a.m., the barristas heckled her mercilessly in their mother tongue and said amongst themselves she must be German. She always just barely restrained herself from explaining to them that she was not, in fact German, but rather she came from America: a land in which no one had the power to arbitrarily regulate what you could and could not drink at any given hour of the day.
She was saying everything he didn’t want to hear. But he hadn’t stopped listening.
He was completely exhausted and falling apart when he reached home. Although his first thoughts of the trip were painful impressions left by strangely uncomfortable moments, he felt contented when looking back over the photographs he had taken and could only attribute this to the inexplicable effects of nostalgia.