I finished My Name is Lucy Barton in a plane ride, however, I never got to share the brilliant little trinkets found in this one.
“When my great-uncle died, we moved into the house and we had hot water and a flush toilet, though in the winter the house was very cold. Always, I have hated being cold. There are elements that determine paths taken, and we can seldom find them or point to them accurately, but I have sometimes thought how I would stay late at school, where it was warm, just to be warm.”
This quote spoke to me because as a teacher, I’m constantly trying to evaluate the motives of my students. Why would that kid answer a phone call from work in the middle of class? Why does this child where pajama bottoms every single day? How is it that seventy-five percent of my new students this semester have moved more than three times in their life? It’s a part of worrying, I guess. This quote from Lucy Barton means a lot to me because it’s such a simple reason. She didn’t like being cold, so she stayed late at school and was able to get the tutoring or study time she needed to be successful in high school. What a tiny thing that I keep for granted, that my house has heat and I can turn it on with a switch.
“Still, I loved him. He asked what we ate when I was growing up. I did not say, “Mostly molasses on bread.” I did say, “We had baked beans a lot.” And he said, “What did you do after that, all hang around and fart?” Then I understood I would never marry him. It’s funny how one thing can make you realize something like that. One can be ready to give up the children one always wanted, one can be ready to withstand remarks about one’s past, or one’s clothes, but then — a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh.”
This. is. dating. I had so many thoughts when I read this quote back again just now. The thought that my mother, before dating my father, dated a man who was so selfish that he didn’t buy her Christmas presents, but refused to celebrate with her so she wouldn’t know. He did however, buy himself everything he wanted, to the point where he was a bit of a hoarder. When my ex-boyfriend decided to buy a video game, while he was jobless, and let his mother pay for my Christmas present, I realized how much I had repeated my own mother’s past in a new way. This quote says all of that. Those Oh, moments. I think it’s safe to say that those tiny moments also inflate a relationship. My boyfriend, who homemade me a Happy Birthday banner by cutting and stringing and coloring. This man inflates the soul, he is an Oh moment with an exclamation point.
I highlighted and scribbled so many more quotes into my notebook, but maybe I’ll save those for another time when I’m reading a book that has very little beauty and I have to question why I’m reading it.