“Funny how you dig yourself into a hole by the teaspoon- the smallest of compromises, the little rounding off or slight recasting of one emotion as another that is a tad nicer or more flattering. I did not care so much about being deprived of a glass of wine per se. But like that legendary journey that begins with a single step, I had already embarked on my first resentment.“
Holocausts do not amaze me. Rapes and child slavery do not amaze me. And Franklin, I know you feel otherwise, but Kevin does not amaze me. I am amazed when I drop a glove in the street and a teenager runs two blocks to return it. I am amazed when a checkout girl flashes me a wide smile with my change, though my own face had been a mask of expedience. Lost wallets posted to their owners, strangers who furnish meticulous directions, neighbors who water each other’s houseplants - these things amaze me.
“‘Eeeeee-VAH!’ always the emphasis on the second syllable, and there were some evenings I could hardly answer because my throat had closed with a rising lump…I never ever took you for granted. We met too late for that; I was nearly thirty-three by then, and my past without you was too stark and insistent for me to find the miracle of companionship ordinary…You made me greedy. Like an addict worth his salt, I wanted more. And I was curious. I wondered how it felt when it was a piping voice calling, 'Momm-MEEE?’ from around the corner. You started it - like someone who gives you a gift of a single carved ebony elephant, and suddenly you get this idea that it might be fun to start a collection.”
Yet if there’s no reason to live without a child, how could there be with one? To answer one life with a successive life is simply to transfer the onus of purpose to the next generation; the displacement amounts to a cowardly and potentially infinite delay. Your children’s answer, presumably, will be to procreate as well, and in doing so to distract themselves, to foist their own aimlessness onto their offspring.
We have explicit expectations of ourselves in specific situations–beyond expectations; they are requirements. Some of these are small: If we are given a surprise party, we will be delighted. Others are sizable: if a parent dies, we will be grief-stricken. But perhaps in tandem with these expectations is the private fear that we will fail convention in the crunch. That we will receive the fateful phone call and our mother is dead and we feel nothing. I wonder if this quiet, unutterable little fear is even keener than the fear of the bad news itself: that we will discover ourselves to be monstrous.