Saturday, May 24, 2008

I can't recall a single trip abroad that, up against it, I have truly wanted to take, that I haven't in some way dreaded and wanted desperately to get out of. I was repeatedly forced out the door by a conspiracy of previous commitments: the ticket purchased, the taxi ordered, a host of reservations confirmed, and just to box myself in a little further I would always have talked up the journey to friends, before florid farewells. Even on the plane, I'd have been blissfully content for the wide-body to penetrate the stratosphere for all eternity. Landing was agony, finding my first night's bed was agony, though the respite itself--my ad hoc replication of Enderby Avenue--was glorious. At length, I got hooked on this sequence of accelerating terrors culminating in a vertiginous plunge to my adoptive mattress. My whole life I have been making myself do things. I never went to Madrid, Franklin, out of appetite for paella, and every one of those research trips you imagined I used to slip the surly bonds of our domestic tranquillity was really a gauntlet I'd thrown down and compelled myself to pick up. If I was ever glad to have gone, I was never glad to go.

But over the years the aversion grew milder, and surmounting a mere annoyance is not so rich. Once I habituated to rising to my own challenge--to proving repeatedly that I was independent, competent, mobile, and grown up--gradually the fear inverted: The one thing I dreaded more than another trip to Malaysia was staying home.

...More than of leaving, I had developed a horror of being left. How often I had done that to you, stranded you with the baguette crusts of our farewell dinner and swept off to my waiting taxi. I don't believe I ever told you how sorry I was for putting you through all those little deaths of serial desertion, or commended you on constraining expression of your quite justifiable sense of abandonment to the occasional quip.

-'We Need To Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver (2005), UK: Serpent's Tail.

2 comments:

annoynomous said...

It's 6am and I just woke up and it took me about half a minute to realise (albeit also without the aid of my glasses), amidst a sea of foreign words and unfamiliar circumstances, that you didn't write this hah. Was puzzled though, it's strange I could feel it isn't the way you'd write.

But haha, the last paragraph there.

Faith said...

how could i have written this?? the language is so honest and lyrical. and the choice of words are perfect. aiyahhh no talent people must steal other people's work. hahaha. joking.