That Summer (1996)
“Maybe not," she said as we came to the car. "But maybe that isn't so bad. You can't love anyone that way more than once in a lifetime. It's too hard and it hurts too much when it ends. The first boy is always the hardest to get over, Haven. It's just the way the world works.”
“It’s funny how one summer can change everything. It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh-cut grass and honeysuckle, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip-flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. Something about fall being so close, another year, another Christmas, another beginning. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, blowing out all the heat and dirt to leave everything gasping and cool. Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger to it, finding the exact point when everything changed. That summer was mine.”
“It was just perfect, just right all at once.”
“My sister, who never understood most of the things I wanted her to, might have been able to understand what had happened to me in this summer of weddings and beginnings. And she was right. The first boy was always the hardest.” page 40000
“At every wedding someone stays home.”
Someone Like You (1998)
“Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.”
“There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you've carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand.”
“You can't just plan a moment when things get back on track, just as you can't plan the moment you lose your way in the first place.”
“You can't just turn your heart off like a facet; you have to go to the source and dry it out, drop by drop.”
“I watched my mother do what she did best, and realized there would never be a way to cut myself from her entirely. No matter how strong or weak I was, she was a part of me, as crucial as my own heart. I would never be strong enough, in all my life, to do without her.”
“I've given lots of people chances," she said suddenly, as if Marion was still in the room to hear us. "But there's only so much faith you can have in people.”
And so we stood there in the kitchen, my mother and I, facing off over everything that had built up since June, when I was willing to hand myself over free and clear. Now I needed her to return it all to me, with the faith that I could make my own way.”
“When I pictured myself, it was always like just an outline in a coloring book, with the inside not yet completed. All the standard features were there. but the colors, the zigzags and plaids, the bits and pieces that made up me, Halley, weren't yet in place. Scarlett's vibrant reds and golds helped some, but I was still waiting.”
“I knew I had to keep him to myself, as I'd slowly begun to keep everything. We had secrets now, truths and half-truths, that kept her always at arm's length, behind a closed door, miles away.”
“I wondered again why the right thing always seemed to be met with so much resistance, when you'd think it would be the easier path. You had to fight to be virtuous...”
“There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you've carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right were you stand.”
“And that was it; it was so easy for her. My own memories did not even belong to me. But I knew she was wrong. I had seen that comet. I knew it as well as I knew my own face, my own hands. My own heart.”
“You can't just plan a moment when things get back on track, just as you can't plan the moment you lose your way in the first place. But standing there alone on the landing, I thought of Grandma Halley and how she'd held me close against her lap as we watched the sky together. I'd always thought I couldn't remember, but suddenly in that moment, I closed my eyes and saw the comet, finally, brilliant and impossible, stretching above me across the sky.”
“Just like that, with one phone call, she was a daughter again.”
“It was something I couldn't put my finger on or define clearly, but a whole mishmash of words and incidents, all rolling quickly and building, like a snowball down a hill, to gather strength and bulk to flatten me. It wasn't what they said, or even just the looks they exchanged when they asked me how school was that day and I just mumbled fine with my mouth full, glancing wistfully over at Scarlett's, where I was sure she was eating alone, in front of the TV, without having to answer to anyone. There had been a time, once, when my mother would have been the first I'd tell about Macon Faulkner, and what P.E. had become to me. But now I only saw her rigid neck, the tight, thin line of her lips as she sat across from me, reminding me to do my homework, no I couldn't go to Scarlett's it was a school night, don't forget to do the dishes and take the trash out. All she'd said to me for years. Only now they all seemed loaded with something else, something that fell between us on the table, blocking any further conversation.”
“As far as I was concerned, we'd come to a draw: I hadn't wanted to come, and she didn't want me to leave. We were even. But I knew my mother wouldn't see it that way. Lately, we didn't seem to see anything the same.”
“The language of solace, and comets, and the girls we all become, in the end.”
“I hoped that Grace would be a little bit of the best of all of us: Scarlett's spirit, and my mother's strength, Marion's determination, and Michael's sly humor. I wasn't sure what I could give, not just yet. But I would know when I told her about the comet, years from now, I would know. And I would lean close to her ear, saying the words no one else could hear, explaining it all. The language of solace and comets, and the girls we all become, in the end.”
“There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you’ve carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand.”
Keeping the Moon (1999)
“You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect, you should expect it.”
“I don't believe in failure, because simply by saying you've failed, you've admitted you attempted. And anyone who attempts is not a failure. Those who truly fail in my eyes are the ones who never try at all. The ones who sit on the couch and whine and moan and wait for the world to change for them.”
“If you try anything, if you try to lose weight, or to improve yourself, or to love, or to make the world a better place, you have already achieved something wonderful, before you even begin. Forget failure. If things don't work out the way you want, hold your head up high and be proud. And try again. And again. And again!”
“But it's strange, when you've always been told something is true, like the moon will come back. You need proof. And while you wait, you feel the entire balance of your world just tipping. It's crazy. But when it's over, and it does come back, that's the best, because it's all you want, everything narrows to just that. It's this great rush, like for that one second everything's okay with the world again. It's amazing.”
“It was always late at night, when everything and everyone else was quiet, that those voices would rise like ghosts, soft and haunting, filling your mind until sleep finally came.”
“If something doesn't work exactly right, or maybe needs some special treatment, you don't just throw it away. Everything can't be fully operational all the time. Sometimes, we need to have the patience to give something the little nudge it needs.”
“It's so, so stupid what we do to ourselves because we're afraid. It's so stupid.”
“I've always known who I am. I might not work perfectly, or be like them, but that's okay. I know I work in my own way.”
“All the bitchy girls in the world are just a training ground for what men can do to you.”
“Their words, like the music, had the potential to be endless.”
“You know, i think i knew you for about three weeks before i ever really saw you smile. and then one day, Morgan said something and you laughed, and i remember thinking it was really cool because it meant something. you're not the kind of person who smiles for nothing, Colie. i have to earn every one.”
“Self respect, Colie. If you don't have it, the world will walk all over you.”
“See, Colie, it's all about understanding. We're all worth something.”
“Of course it hurts", she grumbled, tipping my head further back. "Life sucks. Get over it”
“There's a kind of radar that you get, after years of being talked about and made fun of by other people. You can almost smell it when it's about to happen, can recognize instantly the sound of a hushed voice, lowered just enough to make whatever is said okay. I had only been in Colby for a few weeks. But I had not forgotten.”
“As Isabel acted out her date, both of them laughing, I stayed in the kitchen, out of sight, and pretended she was telling me, too. And that, for once, I was part of this hidden language of laughter and silliness and girls that was, somehow, friendship.”
“We can all be beautiful girls.”
“It's gonna be okay," I said. It was the first time in a long time that I believed it. "It will.”
“We sat there, not talking, for a few minutes. He ate the Moon Pie; only skinny people can scarf down junk food like that. Finally, I said, "Norman?"
"Are you ever going to show me the painting?"
"Man," he said. "You are, like, so impatient."
"I am not," I said. "I've been waiting forever."
"Okay, okay." He stood up and went over to the corner, picking up the painting and bringing it over to rest against the bright pink belly of one of the mannequins. Then, he handed me a bandana. "Tie that on.”
"Why?" I said, but I did it anyway. "Norman, you are way too into ceremony."
"It's important." I could hear him moving around, adjusting things, before he came to sit beside me. "Okay," he said. "Take a look."
I pulled off the blindfold. Beside me, Norman watched me see myself for the first time. And it was me. At least, it was a girl who looked like me. She was sitting on the back stoop of the restaurant, legs crossed and dangling down. She had her head slightly tilted, as if she had been asked something and was waiting for the right moment to respond, smiling slightly behind the sunglasses that were perched on her nose, barely reflecting part of a blue sky. The girl was something else, though. Something I hadn't expected. She was beautiful. Not in the cookie-cutter way of all the faces encircling Isabel's mirror. And not in the easy, almost effortless style of a girl like Caroline Dawes. This girl who stared back at me, with her lip ring and her half smile - not quite earned - knew she wasn't like the others. She knew the secret. And she'd clicked her heels three times to find her way home.
"Oh, my God," I said to Norman, reaching forward to touch the painting, which still didn't seem real. My own face, bumpy and textured beneath my fingers, stared back at me. "Is this how you see me?"
"Colie." He was right beside me. "That's how you are.”
“You knew the truth all along, Colie. That's all matters. You knew.”
“How did you meet him?" I asked her.
She smiled. "Here, actually. During a dinner rush. He was sitting at the counter and Isabel knocked a cup of coffee in his lap."
"Ouch," I said.
"No kidding. She was so slammed she just kept moving, so I cleaned it up and made all the apologies. He said it was okay,, no problem, and I laughed and said pretty girls get away with anything." She looked down, twisting her ring a bit so the diamond sat in the centre of her finger, "And he smiled, and looked at Isabel, and said she wasn't his type."
There was a faint cheer from the stadium, and I saw a ball whiz over the far fence and out of sight.
"And so," she went on, "I said, "Oh really? What is your type, exactly?" and he looked up at me and said, "You.”
“As impossible, in fact, as keeping the moon...So I looked down the line at all my friends, knowing I would always remember this. And then I turned my gaze back up to the sky, and put my faith in that moon and its return.”
“Morgan sighed. "I," she announced, "am so pathetic."
"You are not," I said.
"I am." She went over and straightened the cling wrap, corner to corner. "Do you know how many times I've brought in devilled eggs? This is, like, the only time I haven't been sobbing and that's only 'cause I cried all night. And Norman," she said, her voice rising to a wail, "sweet Norman, always just acts so surprised to see the eggs, and pleased, and he never, once, has ever acted like he knew what they meant.”
“Norman picked up a sketch, glanced at it, then put it back down on the table. "I saw Bea Williamson this morning," he said in a low voice. "Lurking about looking for cut glass."
"Oh, of course," Mira said with a sigh. "Did she have it with her?"
Norman nodded solemnly. "Yep. I swear, I think it's almost gotten … bigger."
Mira shook her head. "Not possible."
"I'm serious," Norman said. "It's way big."
I kept waiting for someone to expand on this, but since neither of them seemed about to, I asked, "What are you talking about?"
They looked at each other.
Then, Mira took a breath. "Bea Williamson's baby," she said quietly, as if someone could hear us, "has the biggest head you have ever seen."
Norman nodded, seconding this. "A baby?" I said.
"A big-headed baby," Mira corrected me. "You should see the cranium on this kid. It's mind-boggling.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?' I asked her.
'You know,' she said, 'when you say stuff like that I just want to slap you.'
'You heard me.' She picked up her beer and took a swallow, still watching me. Then she said, 'Colie, you should never be surprised when people treat you with respect. You should expect it.'
I shook my head. 'You don’t know-' I began. But, as usual, she didn’t let me finish.
'Yes,' she said simply. 'I do know. I’ve watched you, Colie. You walk around like a dog waiting to be kicked, and when someone does, you pout and cry like you didn’t deserve it.'
'No one deserves to be kicked,' I said.
'I disagree,' she said flatly. 'You do if you don’t think you’re worth any better.”
“I don’t believe in failure,” she was saying in that confident, breezy way. “Because simply by saying you’ve failed, you’ve admitted you attempted. And anyone who attempts is not a failure. Those who truly fail in my eyes are the ones who never try at all. The ones who sit on the couch and whine and moan and wait for the world to change for them.”
“Being self-confident doesn't necessarily start inside. It starts with the rest of the world and leads back to you.”
“Believe in yourself up here and it will make you stronger than you could ever imagine.”
“But it’s strange,” he went on, “when you’ve always been told something is true, like the moon will come back. You need proof. And while you wait, you feel the entire balance of your world just tipping. It’s crazy. But when it’s over, and it does come back, that’s the best, because it’s all you want, everything narrows to just that. It’s this great rush, like for that one second everything’s okay with the world again. It’s amazing.”
“I was worn out, broken: He had taken almost everything. But he'd been all I'd had, all this time. And when the police led him away, I pulled out of the hands of all these loved one, sobbing, screaming, everything hurting, to try and make him stay.”
“I wondered if he ever thought of me, and hated the pang I felt when I told myself he didn't.”
“Behind the camera, I was invisible. When I lifted it up to my eye it was like I crawled into the lens, losing myself there. and everything else fell away.”
“After everything that happened, how could I miss him? But I did, I did.”
“I'd heard of Evergreen Care Center before. Cass and I had always made fun of the stupid ads they ran on TV, featuring some dragged-out woman with a limp perm and big, painted-on circles under her eyes, downing vodka and sobbing uncontrollably. "We can't heal you at Evergreen", the very somber voiceover said. "But we can help you to heal yourself." It had become our own running joke, applicable to almost anything.
"Hey Cass, "I'd say, "hand me that toothpaste."
"Caitlin," she'd say, her voice dark and serious. "I can't hand you the toothpaste. But I CAN help you hand the toothpaste to yourself.”
“And she was good to me: strong, fun, and fiercely loyal. And if I didn't have many other friends because of her-most girls were intimidated by her looks, or thought she was too pushy, or just flat-out feared for their boyfriends-it never bothered me. I never missed having a wide, thick circle of girlfriends: Rina was more than enough. We were comfortable with each other's flaws and weaknesses, so we stuck together and kept to ourselves.”
“It's so easy to get caught up in what people expect of you. Sometimes, you can just lose yourself.”
“I had this wild thought that he was the only one in all this chaos who was just like me, and that was comforting and profound all at once.”
“Wake up, Caitlin, Mr. Lensing had said. But what he didn't understand was that this dreamland was preferable, walking through this life half-sleeping, everything at arm's length or farther away. I understood those mermaids. I didn't care if they sang to me.All I wanted was to block out all the human voices as they called me name again and again, pulling me upward into light,to drown.”
“What was the name of Pygmalion's sister?"
She blinked, twice, obviously surprised. "Ummm," she said, keeping her eyes on me. "I don't know." Rogerson did," I told her. "Rogerson knew everything.”
“I jammed my hand in my jacket pocket, bracing myself fo the next hit, and fel something. Something grainy and samll, sticking to the tips of my fingers: the sand from Commons Park. Oh Cass, I thought. I miss you so, so much.”
“And that was as far as he got before i heard it. The thumping of footsteps, running up the lawn toward me: It seemed like I could hear it through the grass, like leaning your ear to a railroad track and feeling the train coming, miles away. As the noise got closer I could hear ragged breaths, and then a voice. It was my mother.”
“I took his wildness from him and tried to fold it into myself, filling up the empty spaces all those second place finishes left behind.”
“Can she be divorced?" I asked. "And famous for her commercials and ideas?"
“She can be anything," Boo told me, and this is what I remember most, her freckled face so solemn, as if she knew she was the first to tell me. "And so can you.”
“Well, it's New Year's now but I don't feel that way anymore. I wonder if you do either. Something's happening to me. It's like I'm shrinking smaller and smaller and I can't stp it. There's just os much wrong that I can't imagine the shame in admitting even the tiniest part of it. When you left it was like there was this huge gap to fill, but instead of spreading wide enough to do it I just fell right in, and I'm still falling. Like I'm half-asleep, and I can't wake up, can't wake up....”
“There were moments - when Jeopardy came on, in the car during radio trivia challenges, or for practically any question I couldn't answer in any subject - that Rogerson simply amazed me. I started to seek out facts, just to stump him, but it never worked. He was that sharp.
"In physics," I sprung on him as we sat in the Taco Bell drive-through, "what does the capital letter W stand for?"
"Energy," he said, handing me my burrito.
Sitting in front of my parents' house as he kissed me goodnight: "Which two planets are almost identical in size?"
"Duh," he said, smoothing my hair back, "Venus and Earth."
"Rogerson," I asked him sweetly as we sat watching a video in the pool house, "where would I find the pelagic zone?"
"In the open sea," he said. "Now shut up and eat your Junior Mints.”
“It's funny how someone's perception of you can be formed without you even knowing it.”
“See you in dreamland”
“If there's one thing I've learned in the last few months, it's that sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump.”
“During this time we've been apart, it's you I've thought of when I'm at my weakest, and you who have pulled me through.”
“She was just a shell of her former self, functioning and talking but hardly alive.”
“I couldn't tell her. I couldn't tell anyone. As long as I didn't say it aloud, it wasn't real.”
“We laughed ourselves silly, taking back our shared past, gently, piece by piece.”
“I was running from one problem or place to another, with no time left to study, or sleep, or just breathe. I felt pulled in all directions, fighting to keep all these obligations circling in the air above me. It was only a matter of time before something fell.”
“I felt like I'd been swimming so hard, and the water growing warmer and warmer the closer I got to the top. I wasn't there yet, but now I could see the surface, rippling just beyond my fingers.”
“For two hours I'd felt myself stretching tighter and tighter, like a rubber band pulled to the point of snapping. And now, I could feel the smaller, weaker part of myself beginning to fray, tiny bits giving way before the big break.”
“Now I felt like I was drifting, sucked down by an undertow, and too far out to swim back to the shore.”
"I was drowning in broad daylight and no one could tell."
This Lullaby (2002)
“Love is needing someone. Love is putting up with someone's bad qualities because they somehow complete you.”
“I am coming to terms with the fact that loving someone requires a leap of faith, and that a soft landing is never guaranteed.”
“Some things don't last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.”
“You know, when it works, love is pretty amazing. It's not overrated. There's a reason for all those songs.”
“Holding people away from you, and denying yourself love, that doesn't make you strong. if anything, it makes you weaker. Because you're doing it out of fear.”
“What did it feel like, I wondered, to love someone that much? So much that you couldn't even control yourself when they came close, as if you might just break free of whatever was holding you and throw yourself at them with enough force to easily overwhelm you both.”
“The fate of your heart is your choice and no one else gets a vote”
“I knew that there were no guarantees. No way of knowing what came next for me, or him, or anybody. Some things don't last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.”
“I just thought to my self, all of a sudden, that we had something in common. A natural chemistry, if you will. And I had a feeling that something big was going to happen. To both of us. That we were, in fact, meant to be together.”
“Everything, in the end, comes down to timing. One second, one minute, one hour could make all the difference.”
“...He always did the leaving. But not this time. She kept walking, and did not look back.”
“She fell, she hurt, she felt. She lived. And for all the tumble of her experiences, she still had hope. Maybe this next time would do the trick. Or maybe not. But unless you stepped into the game, you would never know.”
“Because you can never go from going out to being friends, just like that. It's a lie. It's just something that people say they'll do to take the permanence out of a breakup. And someone always takes it to mean more than it does, and then is hurt even more when, inevitably, said ‘friendly' relationship is still a major step down from the previous relationship, and it's like breaking up all over again. But messier.”
“well, it's true that i have been hurt in my life. Quite a bit. But it's also true that i have loved, and been loved. and that carries a weight of it's own. a greater weight, in my opinion. it's like that pie chart we talked about earlier. in the end, i'll look back on my life and see that the greatest piece of it was love. the problems, the divorces, the sadness... those will be there too, but just smaller slivers, tiny pieces. ”
“Right now, though, I wanted not to think forward or backward, but only to lose myself in the words.”
“Love is so unpredictable. That what makes it so great”
“What did it feel like, I wondered, to love someone that much? So much that you couldn't even control yourself when they came close, as if you might just break free of whatever was holding you and throw yourself at them with enough force to easily overwhelm you both. I had to wonder, but he clearly knew: you could see it, feel it coming off him, like a heat. I almost envied him that. Almost.”
“this Lullaby is only a few words, a simple run of chords, quiet here in this spare room, but you can hear it, hear it, wherever you may go, even if I let you down, this lullaby plays on...”
“I meant what I said to you. I wasn't playing some kind of summer game. Everything I said was true, from the first day. EVERY GODDAMN WORD”
“Are those the only options? Nothing or forever?” ― Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby
“And for one second, it was like I could feel the timing clicking together, finally pieces falling into place.”
This lullaby is only a few words A simple run of chords Quiet here in this spare room But you can hear it, hear it Wherever you may go I will let you down But this lullaby plays on...
“If what you're asking is how I debated whether or not to love her the answer is I didn't. Not at all. It just happened. I didn't ever question it; by the time I realized what was happening, it was already done.”
“I've seen what commitment leads to. Going in is the easy part. It's the ending that sucks!
“That's what this has been all about for you, correct? Make it clear. That you and me--it was nothing more that you'll have with Spinnerbait boy, or the guy after that, or the guy after that. Right?"
"Yeah, I said, shrugging. "You're right."
He just stood there, looking at me, as if I had actually changed before his eyes. But this was the girl I'd been all along. I'd just hidden her well.”
“You know, when it works, love is amazing. It's not overrated
“Love is an excuse to put up with the shit that you shouldn't. That's how it gets you. It throws off the scales so that things that should weigh heavily don't seem to. It's a crock. A trap.”
“I can say I made a lot of mistakes, but I don't regret things. Because at least I didn't spend a life standing outside, wondering what living would be like.”
“Whenever you made a choice, especially one you'd been resisting, it always affected everything else, some in big ways, like a tremor beneath your feet, others in so tiny a shift you hardly noticed a change at all. But it was happening.”
“Plastic ware," he said slowly, "like knives and forks and spoons?"
I brushed a bit of dirt off the back of my car—was that a scratch?—and said casually, "Yeah, I guess.Just the basics, you know."
"Did you need plastic ware?" he asked.
"Because," he went on, and I fought the urge to squirm, "it's so funny, because I need plastic ware. Badly."
"Can we go inside, please?" I asked, slamming the trunk shut. "It's hot out here."
He looked at the bag again, then at me. And then, slowly, the smile I knew and dreaded crept across his face. "You bought me plastic ware," he said. "Didn't you?'
"No," I growled, picking at my license plate.
"You did!" he hooted, laughing out loud. "You bought me some forks. And knives. And spoons. Because—"
"No," I said loudly.
"—you love me!" He grinned, as if he'd solved the puzzler for all time, as I felt a flush creep across my face. Stupid Lissa. I could have killed her.
"It was on sale," I told him again, as if this was some kind of an excuse.
"You love me," he said simply, taking the bag and adding it to the others.
"Only seven bucks," I added, but he was already walking away, so sure of himself. "It was on clearance,for God's sake."
"Love me," he called out over his shoulder, in a singsong voice. "You. Love. Me.”
“So many times it seemed like there were chances to stop things before they started. Or even stop them in midstream. But it was even worse when you knew in that very moment that there was still time to save yourself, and yet you couldn't even budge.”
“...She said writting novels was like childbirth: if you truly remembered how awful it got, you'd never do it again.”
“But I think, personally, that it would be worse to have been alone all that time. Sure, maybe I would have protected my heart from some things, but would that really have been better? To hold myself apart because I was too scared that something might no be forever?”
“And no relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater. ”
“I know there were no guarantees. No way of knowing what came next for me, or him, or anything. Some things don't last forever, but some things do. Like a great song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down the corners and peering close, hoping you still see the person you see there . . . That was the thing, you just never knew. Right now, though, I wanted not to think forward or backward, but only to lose myself in the words.”
“And I felt a sudden whirl in my head, knowing this leap was inevitable, that I wasn't just standing on the cliff, toes poking over, but already in mid-air.”
“But holding people away from you, and denying yourself love, that doesn't make you strong. If anything it makes you weaker, because you're doing it out of fear.”
“My mother was strong, in all the ways I was weak. She fell, she hurt, she felt. She lived. And for all the tumble of her experiences, she still had hope. Maybe this next time would do the trick. Or maybe not. But unless you stepped into the game, you will never know.”
“But you, fine sir." John Miller clapped Dexter on the shoulder, a bit unsteadily. "You have problems of your own."
"This is true," Dexter replied, nodding.
"The women," John Miller sighed.
Dexter wiped a hand over his face, and glanced down the road. "The women. Indeed, dear squire, they perplex me as well."
"Ah, the fair Remy," John Miller said grandly, and I felt a flush run up my face. Lissa, in the front seat, put a hand to her mouth.
"The fair Remy," Dexter repeated, "did not see me as a worthwhile risk."
"I am, of course, a rogue. A rapscallion. A musician. I would bring her nothing but poverty, shame, and bruised shins from my flailing limbs. She is the better for our parting."
John Miller pantomined stabbing himself in the heart. "Cold words, my squire." "Huffah," Dexter agreed.
"Huffah," John Miller repeated, "Indeed.”
“Well, it's true that I have been hurt in my life. Quite a bit. But it's also true that I have loved, and been loved. And that carries a weight of its own. A greater weight, in my opinion. It's like that pie chart we talked about earlier. In the end, I'll look back on my life, and see that the greatest piece of it was love. The problems, the divorces, the sadness... those will be there too, but just smaller slivers, ting pieces.”
“Maybe marriage, like life, isn't only about the big moments, whether they be good or bad. Maybe it's all the small things - like being guided slowly forward, surely, day after day - that stretches out to strengthen even the most tenuous bond.”
“Oh, God," I said.
"No, it's Dexter," he replied, offering me his hand, which I ignored. He glanced behind him, then back at me. "I'll see you soon," he said, and grinned at me.
"Like hell," I replied,”
“I thought this was a cookout. You know, dogs and burgers, Tater Tots, ambrosia salad" Dexter picked up a box of Twinkies, tossing them into the cart. "And Twinkies."
"It is,"..."Except that it's a cookout thrown by my mother."
"And my mother doesn't cook."
He looked at me waiting.
"At all. My mother doesn't cook at all."
"She must cook sometimes."
"Everyone can make scrambled eggs, Remy. It's programmed into you at birth, the default setting. Like being able to swim and knowing not to mix pickles with oatmeal. You just KNOW.”
“Everything, in the end, comes down to timing. One second, one minute, one hour, could make all the difference. So much hanging on just these things, tiny increments that together build a life. Like words build a story, and what had Ted said? One word can change the entire world.”
“See," he began, leaning back into the booth, "I was at this car dealership today, and I saw this girl. It was an across-a-crowded-room kind of thing. A real moment, you know?"
I rolled my eyes. Chloe said, "And this would be Remy?"
"Right. Remy," he said, repeating my name with a smile. Then, as if we were happy honeymooners recounting our story for strangers he added, "Do you want to tell the next part?"
"No," I said flatly.”
“In those first few hours officially single again the world seems like it expands, suddenly bigger and more vast now that you have to get through it alone.”
“He'd always had that fearless optimism that made cynics like me squirm. I wondered if it was enough for both of us. I would never know from here, though. And time was passing. Crucial minutes and seconds, each one capable of changing everything.”
The Truth About Forever (2004)
“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”
“It's just that...I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is.”
“It's all in the view. That's what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count.”
“I knew, in the silence that followed, that anything could happen here. It might be too late: again, I might have missed my chance. But I would at least know I tried, that I took my heart and extended my hand, whatever the outcome.
"Okay," he said. He took a breath. "What would you do, if you could do anything?"
I took a step toward him, closing the space between us. "This," I said. And then I kissed him.”
“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.”
“It was just one of those things," I said, "You know, that just happen. You don't think or plan. You just do it.”
“What you need, what you deserve, is a guy who adores you for what you are. Who doesn't see you as a project, but a prize. you know?”
“Shoulda, coulda, woulda. It's so easy in the past tense. ”
“I like flaws. I think they make things interesting.”
“But I'd long ago learned not to be picky in farewells. They weren't guaranteed or promised. You were lucky, more than blessed, if you got a good-bye at all.”
“Some people, they can't just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me... I don't know. I didn't want to fix it, to forget. It wasn't something that was broken. It's just...something that happened. And like that hole, I'm just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. ”
“We'd start slow, the way we always did, because the run, and the game, could go on for awhile. Maybe even forever. That was the thing. You just never knew. Forever was so many different things. It was always changing, it was what everything was really all about. It was twenty minutes, or a hundred years, or just this instant, or any instant I wished would last and last. But there was only one truth about forever that really mattered, and that was this: it was happening. Right then, as I ran with Wes into that bright sun, and every moment afterwards. Look, there. Now. Now. Now.”
“If this was my forever, I wouldn't want to spend it here. ”
“Life can be long or short, it all depends on how you choose to live it. it's like forever, always changing. for any of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. you can never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count. what you have to decide is how you want your life to be. if your forever was ending tomorrow, is this how you'd want to have spent it?”
“ 'I don't get it,' Caroline said, bemused. 'She's the only one with wings. Why is that?' There were so many questions in life. You couldn't ever have all the answers. But I knew this one.
'It's so she can fly,' I said. Then I started to run.”
“What you have to decide... is how you want your life to be. If your forever was ending tomorrow, would this be how you'd want to have spent it? Listen, the truth is, nothing is guaranteed. You know that more than anybody. So dont be afraid. Be alive.”
“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. you get use to the weight, how it holds you in place”
“I don't know. Just because someone's pretty doesn't mean she's decent. Or vice versa. I'm not into appearances. I like flaws, I think they made things interesting.-- Wes”
“Okay,' he said. He took a breath. 'What would you do, if you could do anything?' I took a step toward him, closing the space between us. 'This,' I said. And then I kissed him. Kissed him. There, in the middle of the street, as the world went on around us. Behind me, I knew Jason was still waiting for an explanation, my sister was still lecturing, and that angel still had her eyes skyward, waiting to fly. As for me, I was just trying to get it right, whatever that meant. But now I finally felt I was on my way. Everyone had a forever, but given a choice, this would be mine. The one that began in this moment, with Wes, in a kiss that took my breath away, then gave it back- leaving me astounded, amazed, and most of all, alive.”
“...the truth about forever is that it is happening right now...”
“You, have this whole tall, dark stranger thing going on. Not to mention the tortured artist bit.
And you, have that whole blonde cool and collected perfect smart thing going on.
You're the boy all the girls want to rebel with.
You, are the unattainable girl in homeroom who never gives a guy the time of day.”
“But that was the problem with having the answers. It was only after you gave them that you realized they sometimes weren't what people wanted to hear.”
“Never would forever, with all its meanings, be so clear and distinct as in the true, guaranteed end of the world.”
“And that was it. All this buildup to a great leap, and I didn't fall or fly. Instead I found myself back on the edge of the cliff, blinking, wondering if I'd ever jumped at all. It's not supposed to be like this.”
“It's not that I believe everything happens for a reason. It's just that . . . I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is.”
“he wasn't the type for displays of affetion, either verbal or not. He was disgusted by couples that made out in the hallways between classes, and got annoyed at even the slightest sapppy moments in movies. But I knew he cared about me: he just conveyed it more subtly, as consise with expressing this emotion as he was with everything else. It was in the way he'd put his hand on the small of my back, for instance, or how he'd smile at me when I said something that surprised him. Once I might have wanted more, but I'd come around to his way of thinking in the time we'd been together. And we were together, all the time. So he didn't have to prove how he felt about me. Like so much else, I should just know.”
“ 'That's not a real answer.'
'Says me. I mean real fear, like of failure, of death, of regret. Like that. Something that keeps you awake nights, questioning your very existence.'
“Look," I said, "We knew Jason and Becky would be back, the break would end. This isn't a surprise, it's what's supposed to happen. It's what we wanted. Right?"
"Is it?" he asked. "Is it what you want?"
Whether he intended it to be or not, this was the final question, the last Truth. If I said what I really thought, I was opening myself up for a hurt bigger than I could even imagine. I didn't have it in me. We changed and altered so many rules, but it was this one, the only one when we'd started, that I would break.
"Yes," I said.”
“But it was okay not to fit in everywhere, as long as you did somewhere.
“You know, feeling and action are always linked, one can't exist without the other. It's sort of a hippie thing.
“An empty frame, in which the picture is always changing, makes a statement about how time is always passing. It doesn't really stop, even in a single image. I t just feels that way.”
“Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.”
“I knew that in the silence that followed, that anything could happen here. It might be too late again. I might have missed my chance. But I would at least know I tries, that I took my heart and extended my hand, whatever the outcome.”
“Isn't it weird," I said, "the way you remember things, when someone's gone?"
"What do you mean?"
I ate another piece of waffle. "When my dad first died, all I could think about was that day. It's taken me so long to be able to think back to before that, to everything else."
Wes was nodding before I even finished. "It's even worse when someone's sick for a long time," he said. "You forget they were ever healthy, ever okay. It's like there was never a time when you weren't waiting for something awful to happen."
But there was," I said. "I mean, it's only been in the last few months that I've started remembering all this good stuff, funny stuff about my dad. I can't believe I ever forgot it in the first place."
You didn't forget," Wes said, taking a sip of his water. "You just couldn't remember right then. But now you're ready to, so you can."
I thought about this as I finished off my waffle.”
“So he didn't have to prove how he felt about me. Like so much else, I should just know.”
“How weird was it that so many bits and pieces, all diverse, could make something whole. Something with potential. 'Perfect.”
“...which is completely out-of-line behavior. Then you are wholly within your rights to stomp on their foot." "No," Delia said, over her shoulder. "Actually, you're not. Just excuse yourself as politely as possible, and get out of arm's reach." Kristy looked at me, shaking her head. "Stomp them." she said, under her breath. "Really”
“It was like that part of my life, was just gone. It was almost too easy, for something I once thought had meant everything.”
“That was the thing about being on the inside: the world was just going on, even when it seemed like time for you had stopped for good.”
“The girl in the tight black dress was passing by us now, eyeing Wes and walking entirely too slowly. "Hi," she said, and he nodded at her but didn't reply. Knew it, I thought.
"Honestly," I said.
"Come on. You have to admit, it's sort of ridiculous."
Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. "You know," I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. "The sa-woon."
“But all I could think of was how when nothing made sense and hadn't for ages, you just have to grab onto anything you feel sure of.”
“I realized how truly hard it was, really, to see someone you love change right before your eyes. Not only is it scary, it throws your balance off as well.”
“ 'God! You'll do anything to avoid it.'
'Avoid what?' my mother said.
'The past,' Caroline said. 'Our past. I'm tired of acting like nothing ever happened, of pretending he was never here, of not seeing his pictures in the house, or his things Just because you're not able to let yourself grieve.'
'Don't,' my mother said, her voice low, 'talk to me about grief. You have no idea.'
'I do, though.' Caroline's voice caught, and she swallowed. 'I'm not trying to hide that I'm sad. I'm not trying to forget. You hide here behind all these plans for houses and townhouses because they're new and perfect and don't remind you of anything.'
'Stop it,' my mother said.
And look at Macy,' Caroline continued, ignoring this.' Do you even know what you're doing to her?'
My mother looked at me, and I shrank back, trying to stay out of this. 'Macy is fine,' my mother said.
'No, she's not. God you always say that, but she's not.' Caroline looked at me, as if she wanted me to jump in, but I just sat there. 'Have you even been paying the least bit of attention to what's going on with her? She's been miserable since Dad died, pushing herself so hard to please you. And then, this summer, she finally finds some friends and something she likes to do. But then one tiny slipup, and you take it all away from her.'
'That has nothing to do with what we're talking about,' my mother said.
'It has everything to do with it,' Caroline shot back. 'She was finally getting over what happened. Couldn't you see the change in her? I could, and I was berely here. She was different.'
'Exactly,' my mother said. 'She was-'
'Happy,' Caroline finished for her. 'She was starting to live her life again, and it scared you. Just like me redoing the beach house scares you. You think you're so strong becasue you never talk about Dad. Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that's waht akes you strong.' ”
“A thump thump thump noise that was so unfamiliar, and yet I couldn't quite place it. But I knew it. It was---"Mmm-hmmm," Monica murmured, just as Wes came view into the path. He was running, his pace quick and steady. He was in shorts, his shirt off, staring ahead as he passed. His back was tan and gleaming with sweat.
" God god!" she said finally, fanning her face with her hand, "I've seen it a million times but it just never gets old. Never.”
“When you had to do something, you had to do it. And eventually, if you were lucky, you did it well.”
“But as I stood watching her, I realized how truly hard it was,really, to see someone you love change right before your eyes. Not only is it scary, it throws your balance off as well. This was how my mother felt, I realized, over the weeks I worked at Wish, as she began to not recognize me in small ways, day after day. It was no wonder she'd reacted by pulling me closer, frcibly narrowing my world back to fit insider her own. Even now, as I finally saw this as the truth it was, a part of me wishing my mother would stand up straight, take command, be back in control. But all I'd wanted when she was tugging me closer was to be able to prove to her that the changes in me were good ones, ones she'd understand if she only gave them a chance. I had that chance now. While it was scary, I was gong to take it.
“I got back in my car, starting the engine, then drove off. It wasn't until I pulled onto the highway that it all really sunk it, how temporary our friendship had been. We'd been on our breaks, after all, but it wasn't our relationships that were on pause: it was us. Now we were both in motion again, moving ahead. So what if there were questions left unanswered. Life went on. We knew that better than anyone.
Just Listen (2006)
“Don't think or judge, just listen.”
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you'd better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you'll never understand what it's saying.”
“Music is a total constant. That's why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in your or the world, that one song says the same, just like that moment.”
“So you're always honest," I said.
"No," I told him. "I'm not."
"Well, that's good to know, I guess."
"I'm not saying I'm a liar," I told him. He raised his eyebrows. "That's not how I meant it, any ways."
"How'd you mean it, then?"
"I just...I don't always say what I feel."
"Because the truth sometimes hurts," I said.
"Yeah," he said. "So do lies, though.”
“Because this is what happens when you try to run from the past. It just doesn’t catch up, it overtakes … blotting out the future.”
“There comes a time in every life when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your heart.”
“All I'd ever wanted was to forget. but even when I thought I had, pieces had kept emerging, like bits of wood floating up to the surface that only hint at the shipwreck below.”
“No matter how much time has passed, these things still affect us and the world we live in. If you don't pay attention to the past, you'll never understand the future. It's all linked together.”
“Silence is so freaking loud”
“I wondered which was harder, in the end. The act of telling, or who you told it to. Or maybe if, when you finally got it out, the story was really all that mattered.”
“There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can ever truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.”
“I was beginning to see, though, that the unknown wasn't always the greatest thing to fear. The people who know you best can be risker, because the words they say and things they think have the potential to be not only scary but true, as well.”
“So many versions of just one memory, and yet none of them were right or wrong. Instead, they were all pieces. Only when fitted together, edge to edge, could they even begin to tell the whole story.”
“The past did affect the present and the future, in ways you could see and a million ones you couldn't. Time wasn't a thing you could divide easily; there was no defined middle or beginning or end. I could pretend to leave the past behind, but it would not leave me.”
“It was like when you're a little kid and you run into your teacher or librarian at the grocery store or Wal-mart and it's just so startling, because it never occurred to you they existed outside of school.”
“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.”
“I thought again how you could never really know what you were seeing with just a glance, in motion, passing by. Good or bad, right or wrong. There was always so much more.”
“Pieces and parts were always easier to process. The full picture, the entire story, was another thing entirely. But you just never knew. Sometimes, people could surprise you.”
“Like a word on a page that you’ve printed and read a million times, that suddenly looks strange or wrong, foreign. And you feel scared for a second, like you’ve lost something, even if you’re not sure what it is”
“So while it seemed like you were seeing everything, you really weren't. Just bits and pieces that looked like a whole.”
“music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”
“All you could do was take on as much weight as you can bear. And if you're lucky, there's someone close enough by to shoulder the rest.”
“Because this is what happens when you try to run from the past. it doesn't just catch up: it overtakes, blotting out the future, the landscape, the very sky, until there is no path left except that which leads through it, the only one that can ever get you home.”
“I'd been convinced I was on the outside, but really, I'd always been within arm's reach. All I had to do was ask, and I, too, would be easily brought back, surrounded and immersed, finding myself safe, somewhere in between.”
“I understood now. This voice, the one that had been trying to get my attention all this time, calling out to me, begging me to hear it -- it wan't Will's. It was mine.”
“instead, we just sat there, together but really apart, watching a show about a stranger and all her secrets, while keeping our own to ourselves, as always.”
“Story of my life.”
“I don't lie."
"You don't lie," I repeated.
"That's what I said."
Sure you don't, I thought.”
“I am the middle sister. The one in between. Not oldest, not youngest, not boldest, not nicest. I am the shade of gray, the glass half empty or full, depending on your view. In my life, there has been little that I have done first or better than the one preceding or following me. Of all of us, though, I am the only one who has been broken.”
“Harder to get in than out, like so little else.”
“Then what are you like, Annabel?" he shot back. "A liar, like you told me that first day? Come on. That was the biggest lie of all.”
“One week, one strong. One scared, one bold. I was beginning to understand though, that there were no such things as absolutes, not in life, or in people. Like Owen said, it was day by day, if not moment by moment. All you could do was take on as much weight as you can bear. And if you're lucky, there's someone close enough to shoulder the rest.”
“I mean, at first, it was kind of disappointing. But people recover from disappointment. Otherwise we'd all be hanging from nooses. Right?”
“If you could just be nice, then you wouldn't have to worry about arguments at all. but being nice wasn't as easy as it seemed, especially when the rest of the world could be so mean.”
“All I'd ever wanted was to forget. But even when I thought I had, pieces had kept emerging, like bits of wood floating up to the surface that only hint at the shipwreck below. Because that is what happens when you try to run from the past. It doesn't just catch up: it overtakes, blotting out the future, the landscape, the very sky, until there is no path left except that which leads through it, the only one that can ever get you home.”
“...the unknown wasn’t always the greatest thing to fear. The people who know you best can be riskier, because the words they say and the things they think have the potential to be not only scary but true, as well.”
“It seemed safer to hold it in, where the only one who could judge was me.”
“When I got to my own face, I found myself staring at it, so bright with dark all around it, like it was someone I didn't recognize. Like a word on a page that you've printed and read a million times, that suddenly looks strange or wrong, foreign, and you feel scared for a second, like you've lost something, even if you're not sure what it is.”
“I'd still thought that everything I thought about that night-the shame, the fear-would fade in time. But that hadn't happened. Instead, the things that I remembered, these little details, seemed to grow stronger, to the point where I could feel their weight in my chest. Nothing, however stuck with me more than the memory of stepping into that dark room and what I found there, and how the light then took that nightmare and made it real.”
“That was the thing: Once, the difference between light and dark had been basic. One was good, one bad. Suddenly, though, things weren’t so clear. The dark was still a mystery, something hidden, something to be scared of, but I’d come to fear the light, too. It was where everything was revealed, or seemed to be. Eyes closed, I saw only the blackness, reminding me of this one thing, the most deep of my secrets; eyes open, there was only the world that didn’t know it, bright, inescapable, and somehow, still there.”
“It's a big deal when you finally get the chance to do the one thing you want to do -need to do- more than anything. It can kind of scare the crap out of you.”
“You really get to meet people on such a personal level. There's a real bonding in someone beating the crap out of you.”
“I am still the center sister. But I see it differently now. There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.”
“Plus there’s the fact,” he went on, making it clear he didn’t need me to reply anyway, “that music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment. Which is pretty amazing, when you actually think about it.”
“Being nice was the ideal, the one place where people didn't get loud, or so quiet they could scare you. If you could just be nice, then you wouldn't have to worry about arguments at all. But being nice wasn't as easy as it seemed, especially when the rest of the world could be so mean.”
“He shook his head. "Some people think that they like music,but they have no idea what it's really about. They're kindding themselves. Then there are people who feel strongly about music, but just aren't listening to the right stuff. They're misguided. And then there are people like me."
"People like you," I said. "What kind of people are those?"
"The kind who live for music and are constantly seeking it out, anywhere they can. Who can't imagine a life without it. They're enlightened.”
Lock and Key (2008)
"Open your heart.. and the rest will follow.."
“It's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching and rarely discovered--so many locks not enough keys.”
“Everyone has their weak spot. The one thing that, despite your best efforts, will always bring you to your knees, regardless of how strong you are otherwise.”
“We can't expect everybody to be there for us, all at once. So it's a lucky thing that really, all you need is someone. ”
“Funny how a beautiful song could tell such a sad story”
“My point is, there are a lot of people in the world. No one ever sees everything the same way you do; it just doesn't happen. So when you find one person who gets a couple of things, especially if they're important ones... you might as well hold on to them. You know?”
“Not every thing's perfect, especially in the beginning. and its all right to have a little big of regret every once in a while. It's when you feel it all the time and can't do anything about it... that's when you get into trouble”
“Family isn’t something that’s supposed to be static, or set. People marry in, divorce out. They’re born, they die. It’s always evolving, turning into something else.”
“Look, the point is there's no way to be a hundred percent sure about anyone or anything. So you're left with a choice. Either hope for the best or just expect the worst.”
“Only a weak person needed someone else around all the time.”
“I just don't know," I said, my voice sounding bumby, not like mine, "how do you help someone who doesn't want your help. What do you do when you can't do anything?”
“This is exactly what i wanted, as commitments had never really been my thing. And it wasn't like it was hard, either. The only trick was never giving more than you were willing to lose.”
“He was not my boyfriend. On the other hand, he wasn't just a friend either. Instead, our relationship was elastic, stretching between those two extremes depending on who else was around, how much either of us had to drink, and other varying factors. This was exactly what I wanted, as commitments had never really been my thing. And it wasn't like it was hard, either. The only trick was never giving more than you were willing to lose.”
“If you didn't always have to choose between turning away for good or rushing in deeper. In the moments that it really counts, maybe it's enough - more than enough, even - just to be there. ”
“The further you go, the more you have to be proud of. At the same time, in order to come a long way, you have to be behind to begin with. IN the end, though maybe it's not how you reach a place that matters. Just that you get there at all.”
“Looking back, it seemed like it should have been harder to lose someone, or have them lose you, especially when they were in the same state, only a few towns over.”
“Total commitment," I said. "You know, the idea of discovering something that, for all intents and purposes, goes against your abilities, and yet still deciding to do it anyway. That takes guts, you know?”
“But i was sure of something, too: it's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching, and rarely discovered--so many locks, not enough keys.”
“If you expect the worst, you'll never be disappointed.”
“What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn't just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. Cora was right- we had many families over time. Our family of origion, the family we created, as well as the gorups you moved thorugh while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them were perfect, and we couldn't expect them to be. You couldn't make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build a world from it. So my true family was not just my mom, lost or found; my dad, gone from the start; and Cora, the only one who had really been there all along. It was Jamie, who took me in without question and gave me a future I once couldn't even imagine; Oliva, who did question, but also gave me answers; Harriet, who, like me, believed she needed no one and discovered otherwise. And then there was Nate. Nate, who was a friend to me before I even knew what a friend was. Who picked me up, literally, over and over again, and never asked for anything in return except for my word and my understanding. I'd given him one but not the other, because at the time I thought I couldn't, and then proved myself right by doing exactly as my mother had, hurting to prevent from being hurt myself. Needing was so easy: it came naturally, like breathing. Being needed by someone else, though, that was the hard part. But as with giving help and accepting it, we had to do both to be made complete- like links overlapping to form a chain, or a lock finding the right key.”
“Leaving was easy. It was everything else that was so damned hard.”
“At the same time, though, I was beginning to wonder if this was just how it was supposed to be for me, like perhaps I wasn't capable of having that many people in my life at any one time. My mom turned up, Nate walked away, one door opening as another clicked shut.”
“I paused, only just now realizing that the subject was hitting a little close to home. "You know, getting hurt. Putting herself out there, opening up to someone."
"Yeah," he said adding some cheese straws to the cart, "but risk is just part of relationships. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't."
I picked up a box of cheese straws, examining it. "Yeah," I said. "But it's not all about chance, either.”
“When he stopped walking and kissed me a few minutes later, it was like time had stopped, with the air, my heart, and the world all so still. And it was this I remembered every other time I was with Marshall.”
“With my mom, when someone was gone, they were gone. She didn't waste another minute thinking about them, and neither should you.”
“There's just something obvious about emptiness, even when you try to convince yourself otherwise. ”
“Hey, and for what it's worth? Friends don't leave you alone in the woods. Friends are the ones who come and take you out.”
“It was like discovering that some part of you wasn't yours at all. And it made me wonder what else I couldn't claim.”
“I was only then, when I knew I was alone, at least for the moment, that I reached under my gown into the pocket of my dress. As I pulled out my key from the yellow house, which I'd kept on my bureau since the day Nate left, I traced the shape one last time before folding my hand tightly around it. Behind me, Cora was calling again. My family was waiting. Looking down at the pond, all I could think was that it is an incredible thing, how a whole world can rise from what seems like nothing at all. I stepped closer to the edge, keeping my eyes on my reflection as I dropped the key into the water, where it landed with a splash. At first, the fish darted away, but as it began to sink they circled back, gathering around. Together, they followed it down, down until it was gone.”
“We both know the limits of this relationship. It's understood. And as long as we're both comfortablewith that, nobody get's hurt. It's basic.”
“Still, there was also was something reassuring about working for Commercial, almost hopeful. Like things that were lost could be found again. As we drove away, I always tried to imagine what it would be like to open your door to find something you had given up on.”
“My mother has always been the point I calibrated myself against. In knowing where she was, I could always locate myself, as well. These months she'd been gone, I felt like I'd been floating, loose and boundaryless, but now that I knew where she was, I kept waiting for a kind of certainty to kick in. It didn't. Instead, I was more unsure than ever, stuck between this new life and the one I'd left behind.”
“Whenever something great happens, you’re always kind of poised for the universe to correct itself.”
“You get what you give, but also what you're willing to take. The night before, I'd offered up my hand. Now, if I held on, there was no telling what it was possible to recieve in return.”
“That was the thing about being alone, in theory or in principle. Whatever happened-good, bad, or anywhere in between-it was always, if nothing else, all your own.”
“Family," she announced. "They're the people in your life you don't get to pick. The ones that are given to you,as opposed to those you get to choose." "You're bound to them by blood," she continued, her voice flat. "Which, you know, gives you that much more in common. Diseases, genetics, hair, and eye color. It's like they're part of your blueprint. If something's wrong with you, you can usually trace it back to them." I nodded and kept writing. "But," she said, "even though you're stuck with them, at the same time, they're also stuck with you. So that's why they always get the front rows at christenings and funerals. Because they're the ones that are there, you know, from the beginning to the end. Like it or not.”
“I always tried to imagine what it would be like to open your door to find something you had given up on. maybe it had seen places you never had, been rerouted and passed through so many strange hands, but still somehow found its way back to you, all before the day even began. ”
“Like I, of all people, didn't know better than to lead a total stranger to the point where they could hurt me most, knowing how easily they'd be able to find their way back to it.”
“The only trick was never giving more that you were willing to lose.”
“Theres this other half of him i dont know of, its like he is trying it keep it a secret.... if he would just let me inside so i can help”
“Through my tears, I could hear her, saying it was all going to be okay, and I knew she believed this. But I was sure of something, too: it's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching, and rarely discovered--so many locks, not enough keys.”
“There comes a point when things are undeniable and can't be hidden any longer. Even from yourself.”
“A lot can change between planning something and actually doing it. But maybe all that really matters is that anything is different at all.”
“You don't have to make things harder then they have to be just to prove a point.”
“We all have one idea of what the color blue is, but pressed to describe it specifically, there are so many ways: the ocean, lapis lazuli, the sky, someone's eyes. Our definitions are as different as we are ourselves.”
“But risk is just part of relationships. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.”
“There was nothing, nothing to depend on. And why was I surprised?
Along for the Ride (2009)
“Life is full of screwups. You're supposed to fail sometimes. It's a required part of the human existance.”
“An ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have the last word.”
“So maybe it wasn't the fairy tale. But those stories weren't real anyway. Mine were.” “Relationships dont always make sense. Especially from the outside”
“It shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder--or impossible-- to lose.”
“Friends are honest with each other. Even if the truth hurts..”
“It didn't make you noble to step away from something that wasnt working, even if you thought you were the reason for the malfunction. Especially then. It just made you a quitter. Because if you were the problem, chances were you could also be the solution. The only way to find out was to take another shot.”
“But sometimes you lose. Nothing you can do but admit it. .”
“He was the closest thing I'd ever had to something, or someone, that mattered. But in the end, close didn't count. You were either in, or you weren't.”
“People don't change. If anything, you get more set in your ways as you get older, not less”
“Maybe it was true, and being a girl could be about interest rates and skinny jeans, riding bikes and wearing pink. Not about any one thing, but everything.”
“The basic fact is that no, this isnt ideal. Very few things are. Sometimes, you have to manufacture your own history. Give fate a push,so to speak.”
“It was so easy to disown what you couldn't recognize, to keep yourself apart from things that were foreign and unsettling. The only person you can be sure to control, always, is yourself. Which is a lot to be sure of, but at the same time, not enough.”
“Sometimes a question can hurt more than an answer.”
“I don't know," I said. "What else did you do for your first eighteen years?"
"Like I said," he said as I unlocked the car, "I'm not so sure that you should go by my example."
"Because I have my regrets," he said. "Also, I'm a guy. And guys do different stuff."
"Like ride bikes?" I said.
"No," he replied. "Like have food fights. And break stuff. And set off firecrackers on people's front porches. And..."
"Girls can't set off firecrackers on people's front porches?"
"They can," he said... "But they're smart enough not to. That's the difference.”
“It's still a memory worth having, even if it's not exactly what you imagined.”
“It was so weird, because usually I was totally nervous talking to guys. But Eli was different. He made me want to say more, not less. Which was maybe not a good thing.”
“The truth was, I wasn't sure. But I wanted to keep believing people could change, and it was certainly easier to do so when you were in the midst of it.”
“It was so risky and so scary, and yet at the smae time, so beautiful. Maybe the truth was, it shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.”
“Morning would come before we knew it. It always did. But we still had the night, and for now, we were together, so I just closed my eyes and drank it all in.”
“Because if you were the problem, chances were you could also be the solution. The only way to find out was to take another shot.”
“I wasn't sure what I expected her to do or say to this. It was all new to me from that second on. But clearly, she'd been there before. It was obvious in the easy way she shrugged off her bag, letting it fall with a thump onto the sand, before sitting down beside me. She didn't pull me close for a big bonding hug or offer up some saccharine words of comfort, both of which would have sent me running for sure. Instead she gave me nothing but her company, realizing even before I did this that this, in fact, was just what I needed.”
“It was terrible and awful when someone left you. You could move on, do the best you could, but like Eli had said, an ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have to have the last word.”
“Why should I even bother? What's the point, really?"
He thought for a moment. "Who says there has to be a point?" he asked. "Or a reason. Maybe it's just something you have to do.”
“Call it crazy, or just chicken salad.”
“I waited. Because with Eli, he was never trying to get you to finish for him. He always knew where he was going, even if it took a little while to get there.”
“It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.”
“Maybe the truth was, it shouldn't be so easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder--if not impossible--to lose.”
“Because maybe, the best of times were yet to come. You never knew.”
“It didn't make you noble to step away from something that wasn't working, even if you thought you were the reason for the malfuntion. Especially then. It just made you a quitter. Because if you were the problem, chances were you could also be the solution. The only way to find out was to take another shot.”
“This true difference in me now: I had these experiances, these tales, more of this life. So maybe it wasn't the fairy tale. But those stories weren't real anyway. Mine were.”
What Happened To Goodbye (2011)
“I mean, it's not surprising, really. Once you love something, you always love it in some way. You have to. It's, like, part of you for good.”
“Two a.m.' He swallowed, then said, "You know. The person you can call at two a.m. and, no matter what, you can count on them. Even if they're asleep or it's cold or you need to be bailed out of jail...they'll come for you. It's like, the highest level of friendship.”
“Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.”
“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you'd planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”
“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
“When you can't save yourself or your heart, it helps to be able to save face.”
“Outside, the ocean was crashing, waves hitting sand, then pulling back to sea. I thought of everything being washed away, again and again. We make such messes in this life, both accidentally and on purpose. But wiping the surface clean doesn't really make anything neater. It just masks what is below. It's only when you really dig down deep, go underground, that you can see who you really are.”
“You asked me to go out with you. I know you probably changed your mind. But you should know, the answer was yes. It's always been yes when it comes to you.”
“I mean, it's impossible to fake anything if you've already seen the other person in a way they'd never choose for you to. You can't go back from that.”
“But in the real world, you couldnt really just split a family down the middle, mom on one side, dad the other, with the child equally divided between. It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn't see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.”
“There's something nice about the silence of a car ride in the dark, going home. When you were tired of the radio and conversation, and it was okay to just be alone with your thoughts and the road ahead. If you're that comfortable with someone, you don't have to talk.”
“You want to take me to a movie?" I asked. "Well, not really," he said. "What I really want is for you to be my girlfriend. But I thought saying that might scare you off.”
“Yeah. I mean, acknowledging is easy. Something happened or it didn't. But understanding... that's where things get sticky.”
“Accepting all the good and bad about someone. It's a great thing to aspire to. The hard part is actually doing it.”
“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together.”
“It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again.”
“Once you love something, you always love it in some way. You have to. It’s, like, part of you for good.”
“I bent down over my neighborhood, taking in the people there. At first, they'd just seemed arranged the same way they were everywhere else: in random formations, some in groups, some alone. Then, though, I saw the single figure at the back of my house, walking away from the back door. And another person, a girl, running through the side yard, where the hedge would have been, while someone else, with a badge and flashlight followed. There were three people under the basketball goal, one lying prone on the ground.
I took a breath, then moved in closer. Two people were seated on the curb between Dave's and my houses: a few inches away two more walked up the narrow alley to Luna Blu's back door. A couple stood in the driveway, facing each other. And in that empty building, the old hotel, a tiny set of cellar doors had been added, flung open, a figure standing before them. Whether they were about to go down, or just coming up, was unclear, and the cellar itself was a dark square. But I knew what was down below.
He'd put me everywhere. Every single place I'd been, with him or without, from the first time we'd met to the last conversation. It was all there, laid out as carefully, as real as the buildings and streets around it. I swallowed, hard, then reached forward, touching the girl running through the hedge. Not Liz Sweet. Not anyone, at that moment, not yet. But on her way to someone. To me.”
“I walked over, my eyes scanning Luna Blu, my house, and Dave's. But it was the building behind them, that empty hotel, that had the tiniest light, provided by one word, written in fluorescent paint. Maybe it wasn't what was once there, in real life. But in this one, it said it all: STAY.”
“Suddenly, I was just sure he was going to kiss me. He was there, I could feel his breath, the ground solid beneath us. But then something crossed his face, a thought, a hesitation, and he shifted slightly. Not now. Not yet. It was something I'd done so often - weighing what I could afford to risk, right at that moment - that I recognized it instantly. It was like looking in a mirror.” “Odd how it was so easy for a stranger to assume such familiarity. Especially when those who were supposed to know you best often didn't, not at all.”
“But anyone cam begin. It was the part with all the promise, the potential, the things I loved. More and more, though, I was finding myself wanting to find out what happened in the end.”
“The first thing I did when I got inside was turn on the kitchen light. Then I moved to the table, putting my dad's iPod on the speaker dock, and a Bob Dylan song came on, the notes familiar. I went into the living room, hitting the switch there, then down the hallway to my room, where I did the same. It was amazing what a little noise and brightness could do to a house and a life, how much the smallest bit of each could change everything. After all these years of just passing through, I was beginning to finally feel at home.” “We make such messes in this life, both accidentally and on purpose. But wiping the surface clean doesn't really make anything any neater. It just masks what is below. It's only when you really dig down deep, go underground, that you can see who you really are.” “All those clean, fresh starts had made me forget what it was like, until now, to be messy and honest and out of control. To be real.”
“It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn't see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.” “How it felt to have the world moving beneath me, a hand gripping mine, knowing if I fell, at least I wouldn't do it alone.”
“Let's just start and see what happens.”
“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever people who loved you were, whenever you were together.”
“From this distance, in the dimness, the model looked surreal, made up of parts filled with buildings, bordered by long stretches of empty space. It reminded me of the way cities and towns look when you are flying at night. You can't make out much. But the places where people have come together, and stayed, are collections of tiny lights, breaking up the darkness.”
“He's very nice. He's something I replied. She considered this zipping her purse shut. Then she said Well everyone is. Everyone is Something. For some reason that stuck with me simple and yet not every since she'd said it. It was like a puzzle as well two vague words with one clear one between them.”
“Like so many before them, they didn't care that my dad was only the messenger. They still wanted to shoot him.”
“But all the love in the world won't save a sinking ship. You have to either bail or jump overboard.”
“So," he said as we turned onto the main road, the muffler rattling, "I've been thinking."
He nodded. "You really need to go out with me."
I blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"You know. You, me. A restaurant or movie. Together." He glanced over, shifting gears. "Maybe it's a new concept for you? If so, I'll be happy to walk you through it.
"You want to take me to a movie?" I asked.
"Well, not really," he said. "What I really want is for you to be my girlfriend. But I thought saying that might scare you off.”
“She was so emotional, on the verge of tears. This was what I'd wanted to prevent with all those quick disappearances, the tangledness of farewells and all the baggage they brought with them. But now, looking at Deb, I realized what else I'd given up: knowing for sure that someone was going to miss me. What happened to goodbye, Michael in Westcott had written on my Ume.com page. I was pretty sure I knew, now. It had been packed away in a box of its own, trying to be forgotten, until I really needed it. Until now.”
“I felt tears prick my eyes as I looked down at the model again, looking at that girl and boy on the curb. Forever in that place, together.”
“Despite my dad's assurances I was strangely nervous my stomach tight ever since we'd hung up. Maybe Deb had picked up on this and it was why she'd pretty much talked nonstop since I'd approached her and asked for a ride. I'd barely had time to explain the situation before she had launched into a dozen stories to illustrate the point that Things Happened But People Were Okay in the End.”
“Like a blinking cursor on an empty page, it was just the first thing. The beginning of the beginning. But at least it was done.” “It was kind of soothing, these sounds of lives being lived all around me, for better or for worse. And there I was, in the middle of them all, newly reborn and still waiting for mine to begin.”
“I dialed the number slowly, wanting to get it right. Two rings, and he picked up.
"Yes," I said after his hello.
"Mclean?" he asked. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," I said, swallowing and looking out my open door, at the ocean. "The answer's yes."
"The answer . . ." he said slowly.
"You asked me to go out with you. I know you probably changed your mind. But you should know, the answer was yes. It's always been yes when it comes to you."
He was very quiet for a moment. "Where are you?"
I started crying again, my voice ragged. He told me to calm down. He told me it was going to be all right. And then, he told he'd be there soon.”