“For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter; she never wrote a letter and his were dry as sticks; but suddenly it would come over her, If he were with me now what would he say?”
I put down Mrs. Dalloway and blew my nose.
My first boyfriend Josh reminded me of Peter Walsh, Mrs. Dalloway’s childhood sweetheart. There's something about the way Mrs. Dalloway never forgets “his eyes, his pocket-knife, his smile, his grumpiness and, when millions of things had utterly vanished – how strange it was! – a few sayings” that was all too familiar. Had Josh been a British gentleman, like Peter, he might have headed to India for the empire's last hurrah. They were eccentrics who loved their travels, sword collections and foreign women. Their larger than life personalities splashed into conversations at parties, made outrageous claims, got everyone riled up, started fights, and then, at the height of it all, slipped out the back door.
Years ago, when I was reading Mrs. Dalloway for the first time, I told Josh that he reminded me of Peter. He eagerly began reading it. But the depiction left him incensed. “You're mean. Is this your way of saying we're not going to end up together?”
Although I'd shook his comment off with an ironic toss of the head, the feeling was darker than irony. I had been mean - meanness was a way of controlling that manic mouse scaling the walls of my stomach.
I had wanted him to leave me. At the time, I thought it was so I could be alone with my own thoughts. That fragile, self-contained world of dead authors waxing lyrical on god knows what.
Now I had all the time in the world to read my shelf full of books, but was there any reason to get out of my pajamas in the morning?
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