I know some good marriages. Second marriages mostly. Marriages where both people have outgrown the bullshit of me-Tarzan, you-Jane and are just trying to get through their days by helping each other, being good to each other, doing the chores as they come up and not worrying too much about who does what. Some men reach that delightfully relaxed state of affairs about age forty or after a couple of divorces. Maybe marriages are best in middle age. When all the nonsense falls away and you realize you have to love one another because you're going to die anyway.
Bennett goes into long silences too. I'd almost rather he contradicted himself, but he's too perfect. He won't commit himself to a statement unless he's sure it's definitive. You can't live that way-- trying to be definitive all the time-- death's definitive.
Then I really began to cry. In long awful sobs. "Please, please, forgive me," I pleaded. (Executioner asks condemned's forgiveness before the ax falls.)
"You don't need forgiveness," he snapped. He began throwing his things into a suitcase we had gotten as a wedding present from the friend who'd introduced us. A long and happy marriage. Many travels down the road of life.
Had I engineered this whole scene just for the intensity of it? Never had I loved him more. Never had I longed to stay with him more. Was that why I had to go? Why didn't he say "Stay, stay-- I love you"? He didn't.
"I can't stay in this room anymore without you," he said, dumping guidebooks and all sorts of junk into his suitcase. We went downstairs together, lugging our suitcases. At the desk, we lingered, paying the bill. Adrian was waiting outside. If only he'd go! But he waited. Bennett wanted to know if I had traveler's checks and my American Express card. Was I all right? He was trying to say "Stay, I love you." This was his way of saying it, but I was so bewitched that I read it to mean "Go!"
But then the fantasy exploded. It burst like the bubble it was. I thought of all those mornings in New York when I had wakened with my husband and felt just as lonely. All those lonely mornings we stared at each other across the orange juice and across the coffee cups. All those lonely moments measured out in coffee spoons, in laundry bills, in used toilet paper rolls, in dirty dishes, in broken plates, in canceled checks, in empty Scotch bottles. Marriage could be lonely too. Marriage could be desolate.
"Life has no plot" is one of my favorite lines.--It's been a while since I've enjoyed a novel as much as I enjoyed this one. There was so much emotion that seemed familiar to me, or at least having witnessed, but other parts seemed weird and removed as well, the distance in the eras. Also, with my newfound interesting in learning what "existentialism" means in practice; here for the main character and her lover it seems more conflated with a kind of nihilism than I would have expected.