The Blue Notebook
After the wild, painful, laughing dance, everyone dancing in parody, and urging all the other members of the group to keep up the parody, for their dear lives’ sake, we all say good night and go home.
Nelson’s wife kisses me at parting. We all kiss each other, one big happy family, though I know, and they know, that any member of this group could fall out of it tomorrow, from failure, or drunkenness or unconformity, and never be seen again. Nelson’s wife’s kiss on my cheeks - first left, then right, is half-warm and genuine, as if to say: I’m sorry, we can’t help it, it’s nothing to do with you; and half-exploratory, as if to say: I want to know what you’ve got for Nelson that I haven’t.
And we even exchange glances, ironic and bitter, saying: Well, it’s got nothing to do with either of us, not really!
The kiss makes me uncomfortable, nevertheless, and I feel an impostor. Because I was realizing something I should have known by using my intelligence, without ever having gone to their flat at all: that the ties between Nelson and his wife are bitterly close, and never to be broken in their lives. They are tied by the closest of all bonds, neurotic pain-giving; the experience of pain dealt and received; pain as an aspect of love; apprehended as a knowledge of what the world is, what growth is.
Nelson is about to leave his wife; he will never leave her. She will wail at being rejected and abandoned; she does not know she will never be rejected.
The evening after the party I was at home sitting in a chair, exhausted. An image kept coming into my mind: it was like a shot from a film, then it was as if I was seeing a sequence from a film. A man and a woman, on a roof-top above a busy city, but the noise and the movement of the city are far beneath them. They wander aimlessly on the roof-top, sometimes embracing, but almost experimentally, as if they are thinking: How does this taste - then they separate again and aimlessly move about the roof. Then the man goes to the woman and says: I love you. And she says, in terror: What do you mean? He says: I love you. So she embraces him, and he moves away, with nervous haste, and she says: Why did you say you loved me? And he says: I wanted to hear how it would sound. And she says: But I love you, I love you, I love you - and he goes off to the very edge of the roof and stands there, ready to jump - he will jump if she says even once again: I love you.
When I slept I dreamed this film sequence - in colour. Now it was not on a roof-top, but in a thin tinted mist or fog, an exquisitely-coloured fog swirled and a man and a woman wandered in it. She was trying to find him, but when she bumped into him, or found him, he nervously moved away from her; looking back at her, then away, and away again.