There’s something about finishing a book that makes me unbelievably happy. I could sit and read for hours and – if it’s good? – I could read until the very end, never putting it down. Lately I’ve been finding an increasingly difficult time getting into my books. I wavered on The Lovely Bones until I literally couldn’t put it down. And, since the end of January, I’ve found myself inexplicably unable to complete Nice to Come Home To, sometimes even unable to locate the book between my apartment, my car, and my office.
But when I did read the last page, I found some sort of solace in it. Like the relationships and the troubles and the realness of it all mimicked, in many ways, much of what I have felt in my own heart.
“Do you remember that scene in Airplane! where the guy with the flags is waving a jet into its gate, then someone asks him where the bathrooms are, so he begins gesturing in the other direction?”
“So the jet crashes into the airport. Yes.”
“That’s how it is, with him. I think I’m getting these signals, you know, and it turns out he’s just looking for the toilet.”
Sometimes I feel like I’ve missed out on things. Missed signals or not – I have spent a long time closing my heart off to prevent from getting hurt. And the main character, Pru, did just the same. There was a lot I feel I gained from reading this book. And I mean that in more than merely a punned remembrance of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and my affection for T.S. Eliot. (Pru had a masters in literature.) There was something, in the lines of this book, that explained a little more to me about life.
“So being single and childless had its merits. For dang sure.”
And something about finding contentment in the here and now.
“Listen,” he said, raising himself up on one elbow. “You don’t just decide one day you’re going to run a marathon, right? You have to do some training first.”
“Aren’t you being glib about this?”
His hands slid around her, inside her sweater, touching her naked back.
Everything in her wanted to melt. Oh, just let it go, she told herself. “Am I the marathon?”
He smiled and nodded. “The New York Marathon.”
“The Boston is harder,” she muttered.
“Okay, you’re the Boston, then.”
“And what was she? Just a little warm-up?”
“She was like a 5K,” he said, so near her ear that she got goose bumps. “Well…maybe a 10K.”
I understood a lot of what the author, Flowers, was saying in regards to relationships. That, often, you don’t jump right in. You have to figure out what you want first. And only then can you recognize the good when you got it and make it work when you get it.
She was getting over it. She could feel it. Maybe she would never entirely be over him, but she thought she was beginning to see that a fairly normal future could be hers again.
There was something hopeful in this book.
“You know how you’re at a party and you pick up the wrong beer, and you know after one sip that it’s not yours? But then, when you find the right one, you know it right away? Why? What is it? The temperature, or the taste of your own spit that you somehow recognize? Or the weight and moistness of the can? Or maybe everything, all together. But it’s all so subtle and complex you can’t explain it. If someone asked, How do you know that’s your beer? well, you wouldn’t know what to say. You just know.“
And a healthy dose of reality, too.
“Some drunk kid is going to pick me up and drink me, and my real owner is never going to find me.”
And even though it didn’t answer all my questions, or solve my puzzles, in the end it gave me something familiar.
More in-betweens: late afternoon, early spring, adolescence, falling in love. She hated the in-betweens. Always, she just wanted to get where she was going – to be there already, She was almost paralyzed by the in-betweenness. She didn’t know how she was supposed to behave.
It was a good, solid read. That’s for sure.