I picked up a book the other day I started reading a while ago and never finished. I have not been able to put it down. And not just because turning a page is just about as much exercise as I’m capable of right now. (‘ROID RAGE!) I can’t put it down because I honestly think it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It took me a while to really get into, but dang, I’m glad I persevered.

I’m reading The House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende, daughter niece of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, and I’m beginning to wish I could read it in Spanish because if the English translation is this good, then the original Spanish must just be phenomenal.

“They continued to caress each other without desire, torturing themselves with pleas and memories. They were savoring the bitterness of a parting that they could already sense but could still confuse with a reconciliation.”

That passage is referring to two characters named Nicolas and Amanda. Nicolas is the aristocratic son of despotic patriarch Estaban Trueba and Amanda is Nico’s plebian lover. Clearly, it didn’t work out.

But beyond that, these two sentences really caught my attention because I think it explains so much about humanity.

We are a needy breed. None of us — or at least very few — want to feel alone, so we hang on to those we have loved even if it hurts more than had we just let it go. We not only hang on to those memories, but like Allende says, we torture ourselves with them. We will sense a growing, inevitable gap. We will ignore it as long as we can. We will even go to great lengths to mend it. After all, love conquers all, right?

Maybe it does in Virgil’s world, but not in Allende’s. Maybe not in ours.

Or maybe Nicolas and Amanda were just a bad match. At least that’s what I’d like to believe because love is grand, right?

“Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.” — Holden Caulfield, inexhaustible goblet of wisdom. ( R.I.P. JD Salinger. Your literary influence will be missed.) 😦

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