I remember looking up through several feet of water and being able to make out the surface but not knowing how to get to the air above.
It was summertime and we were visiting family in North Carolina. I’d never seen trees so tall or forest so thick. I’d never not been able to see the sun rise and set on the horizon. We had driven out to the ocean and I was pulled out by the high tide with my sister and a cousin. I don’t remember who brought me back to the shore.
Often, I will think about that day and remember the sand. I’ve never really liked beaches or the ocean, or lakes for that matter.
The month of May is when summer starts, according to the academic calendar some of us still live by and who others eulogize.
This May, I read Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I inhaled both books — my favorite way of reading.
What captures me now is how water plays a role in both books and certainly played a role in this year’s month of May. I can’t help but imagine Mr. Wind-Up sitting on Mr. Barbour’s boat. Or perhaps Mr. Barbour would find peace down in Mr. Okada’s well.
I imagine both of them watching the water rise, passively. As passively as I reacted to the tornado warning in Austin or the water pool in the yard when it rained over Memorial weekend.
There’s a scene in a movie that I can’t place (maybe you can help me here). An older woman dumps out the purse of a younger woman. The younger woman is hoping to become the older woman’s mentee or perhaps employee. The older/more experienced woman says, “If I had found wrappers in your purse, I would have sent you home.”
I try to never have empty wrappers in my bag.
Every once in while, I re-read Laura Goode’s article Stay Gold on The Rumpus. In it, Goode eulogizes her twenties and writes, “I will tell you that I have lived them like an endless conversation, like a depth charge, like a rapprochement or discord with the self, like the way you dance alone with your roommate in her bedroom or yours, like one big sensory buffet, like whole-body-shaking laughter and notebooks, notebooks, notebooks.”
In my early twenties, I tried to destroy myself. When I stopped trying to destroy myself, I thought I knew who I was and who I wanted to be.
So it surprised me when I recently decided that I needed to have a purse.
It surprised me that I wanted this purse to say, “I am a woman.”
My purses must be able to fit a book. Now they must fit at least two books. They must hold my water bottle. They must have a cross body strap in addition to handles that can also be pulled to the shoulder. The purse must say how graceful I am. They must help me look older. They must fit my lunch. They must fit the bag I keep inside all of my bags with all of the loose ends. Band-aids, Chapstick, nail clippers, ibuprofen, floss. The list goes on.
It was brought to my attention that I have many purses. And indeed, I have more purses than pairs of shoes. Totes, clutches…the kinds of purses exceed my knowledge. One for every occasion; however, I have always found it disconcerting that each purse says something different. I have never been able to settle into one “kind” of purse and have always felt that this inability represents my inability to define myself. I am somewhere in between the tom-boy and the simple girl that does not know how to dress herself.
I have Dune fatigue, it is official. My desire to read is equally fueled by Herbert’s ability to catch a reader and by simply wanting to find out what will happen. Is it accurate to merit a book by your need to finish the book? Can your obsessive need to find out what happens override the quality of the story?
Yes, I think so. How else can you explain soap operas and those evening teen dramas? Roswell and Gilmore Girls. And perhaps, Dune. The Dune world is losing my interest. I’m driven by a need to know people and the people are second place to the evolution of the human species. That’s not really interesting to me. I have been reading at a crazy pace, so at the very least I’ll take some time off before deciding to read the fifth book.
I realized that I don’t like the godly point of view of some of these books because I’m just as bored as the prescient characters. Herbert has me fooled! By the time of this writing I am more than halfway done with book four. Dune and Children of Dune seem quite alike whereas Dune Messiah and God Emperor of Dune are similar in style to me.
But perhaps all of this is due to the physical books I purchased — their designs and shape follow this formula of mine.
Children of Dune brought me back into the layered plots and unknowns of book one. I was excited that Ghanima was female, but was disappointed that she fell aside as Herbert kept the reader with Leto II. At least, Jessica was back to beguile us with her plots and her grace.
I am starting to wonder why Herbert jumps so much time from one book to the next. Did he know his life was too short to go into the depths that he wanted? Why couldn’t we have more time with the characters? Alas, maybe I will become fanatical enough to read the books by his son+writer person.
I am still waiting for Harry Potter to grow up, and I’m a bit dismayed that he may go through is own young-man-mope. Rowling’s writing is still perfectly aimed at the youngsters. While I breeze through the summaries of the previous volume, I dream of who is going to fall in love with whom, etc. The Prisoner of Azkaban includes a slightly more complicated plot. Harry begins to learn that people are not completely good nor bad — and maybe he needs to put time into strengthening his relationships with his friends.