the-mysteries-of-pittsburgh

When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another’s skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness - and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon. The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. 

When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another’s skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness—and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon. The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.
— 

Michael Chabon, final paragraph of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I just finished rereading this novel, and the final paragraph hit me particularly hard, because the first (and, until now, the only) time I read the novel was in 2004…and I am now writing a novel based on some of the events of 2004, and yes, this is how I feel about that summer of my own life, that whole year of my own life.

“When the dream of that summer ended, I awoke. 

I remember the roar of Cleveland’s motorcycle, the scuff of his boots on the stone walk, and the way his eyes looked just before he told a joke.

I remember Jane’s smile, her quiet strength, and the way my heart leapt at her touch.

I remember my friends, and love them to this day.”

Riding on a city bus along the route that you have taken from your job, from the movies, from a hundred Chinese meals, with the same late sun going down over the same peeling buildings and the same hot smell of water in the aftershower air, can be, in the wake of a catastrophe, either a surrealistic nightmare of the ordinary or a plunge into the warm waters of beautiful routine. I watched, among the forty hot, plain people, a mother brush her daughter’s hair into ponytails wrapped kindly and tight with pink elastic bobos, and by the time I pulled the bell cord for the Terrace stop, I knew that everything would be all right, and that soon, very soon, I was going to able to cry.
—  The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon