Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Looking for Alaska

I love stories that make me cry.

I read John Green's Looking for Alaska today, and it didn't make me cry.

The book talks about a labyrinth of suffering, and getting out of it. Is death a way out? Is the loss of desire. Entropy happens, we know, we know that things fall apart. I don't remember when I learned that first. I think. I don't know, I watched the twin towers fall on TV. Brianna had a close friend called Elizabeth, they were so close until they were sixteen and Elizabeth started getting in trouble with boys and my dad told Bri not to be friends with her anymore, and Elizabeth called us and Bri - she still had the phone in her hand - she came into the kitchen where I was and my mom was and she said "The twin towers were hit by a plane! It's on TV!"

We had school off the rest of the day. I remember that because I was glad I didn't have to do school any more that day, and we watched on the television and maybe that was the first time I remember thinking about buildings falling down. We called my dad in Japan and told him - his hotel was near the twin towers in Japan and he looked out the window when we told him "the twin towers fell down." and he told us that they hadn't, he could see them. I watched construction videos when I was a kid, they showed all kinds of thing being blown up. Always rock. piles of rock, piles of dirt being moved so a highway can go there or a house can go there. Always building up. I never understood that buildings could fall down until I saw the twin towers fall on TV while I was glad I didn't have to do school.

Beatrix Potter makes me cry. I can't help but cry when Eoin McGregor's character dies. The injustice of the situation. Her parents force a separation, he gets sick, his sister sends her a letter and she rushes home only to find that he has died. Her only goodbye was the kiss of a lover looking forward to a happy return. Instead, she couldn't even go to his funeral, because no one but the sister and her parents knew that they were engaged.

A Severe Mercy makes me cry. Sheldon holds you, and he tells you that he is going to break your heart from the very beginning. And I resisted crying so many times leading up to Davey's death, but when it happened, when Sheldon was driving and wished more than anything to swerve off the road and end his life, I cried. The most beautiful death I've ever read about, I couldn't think of the unfairness until after, until Sheldon kept holding me as I cried and told me how it is to to hurt. The injustice of the situation. They had happy golden years, and still death is an injustice.

Beatrix Potter goes to the country, she lives in the land and invests in the land and invests herself in the land and in her work and painting and finds healing. She comes out - not unbroken - but mended, and can still delight children. Sheldon lives alone, he... memorizes Davey, he remembers all of her and finds meaning in her death, grows to love God for taking her, a severe mercy. He comes out - not unbroken - but mended, and can still hold me. Miles Halter writes an essay, finds forgiveness and hope in the eternality of personhood. He comes out - not unbroken - but mended?

I think about all the unfairness. But... you can't say they didn't get what they deserved. Actions have consequences, and unless you say that they did not act as they acted - did not do what they did - how can you say they did not get what they deserved? But then, I think, there are other people. For a moment I thought that only other people can hurt us. So we love our crooked neighbor with our crooked heart. But in Japan, an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear reactor are hurting people. But. Well, it hurts more to lose a loved one than to lose yourself. To be swept up by a wave, to be crushed by a whale as the unhabitated beast travels on a thirty foot wave, is to exit the labyrinth and leave behind others to the pain of your leaving.

Seeing the twin towers fall convinced me that things fall down.
Beatrix Potter convinced me that people fall down.
Sheldon convinced me that the highs and lows are a necessary part of personhood.
And John Green?
Well. He convinced me never to get drunk.