Other people’s words about connection
I placed my hand on the back of his neck. I pulled him toward me. And kissed him. I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And he kept kissing me back.
We laughed and we talked and looked up at the stars.
‘I wished it was raining,’ he said.
‘I don’t need the rain, ‘I said. ‘I need you.’
He traced his name on my back. I traced my name on his.
All this time.
From ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I am a sucker for a love story that moves me. The older I get, the more what I mean when I talk about ‘a love story that moves me’ is ‘a love story that makes me weep’.
It’s taken me years to work out why this is. It is not because I am not loved. It is not because I do not love in return. It is because the love stories that make me weep are about a moment — or moments — of connection.
Oh, connection. I had planned in this post to theorise about why I — like so many other people, I suspect — feel so disconnected right now from other people and from the natural world around me. I’d planned to talk about the coronavirus pandemic. About the climate change crisis. About violence and discrimination against people who are not white or male or middle-class or heterosexual or young. And about what it feels like, as a non-married, non-childbearing, non-career-driven woman to turn fifty-one in this year, 2021.
But in the end I decided against writing about those things — partly because I’ve talked about them in previous posts over the years, and partly because most of these things are common topics of conversation right now, and I don’t think I have any new ideas to contribute.
What I have decided to do instead is to start a new occasional series on this blog called — in the spirit of EM Forster, whose words in 1910 in Howard’s End seem more prescient than ever — Only connect!. In this series, I will be quoting passages that are in one way or another about those moments of connection that move me so deeply. Mostly, I suspect, that means the quotes in this series, like the passage I’ve quoted above from Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s beautiful novel for young adults about two Mexican-American boys who fall in love with each other in the 1980s, will be about love and intimacy. But there are other forms of connection that move me, too, and I will quote passages about them here, too.
Years ago, when I first wrote the blurb on my About the Words page of this blog, this is what I wrote: [This blog is] about my love for words, particularly other people’s words, and how they speak to me. Words can make us laugh, cry, think, hope, dream, rage —- but they have no meaning unless they are shared. I see now that what I was saying when I wrote that blurb was that words are a form of connection. And so I hope, in bringing this new series of posts to you that you, too, feel a moment of connection — with the words I’ve quoted, with the writer who wrote them, with me, too, perhaps.
A pot of tea and a book.
PS The photographs that dot this post come from a recent trip I took to Yorke Peninsula, where I spent the week reading, walking, eating, sleeping. I had no access to mobile phone coverage, or to emails, or to the internet. Strangely, it did not feel as though I was disconnected at all. Rather, it felt as though I was reconnecting — with the world around me, and with the natural rhythms of life. And that, perhaps, is the truest kind of connection of all.
Lately I’ve been reading …
- Part of being alive in this world is becoming aware of a specific kind of sadness: Devin Kelly, an injured runner, in an astonishing essay about sadness and pain and survival and surrender.
- Even if we want to pay attention, can we? Can we stand to live a life of attention when that means having to recognize the painful world we live in?: Jessica Hines on the discomfort and difficulty of paying attention.
- Your passion is you, and that’s what readers want: Courtney Maum on social media and why writers should stop worrying about the number of followers they have.
- No, daddylonglegs are NOT the most poisonous spider on earth: Helen Sullivan on childhood myths and the surprising truth about daddy longlegs.