Fierce Attachments: Quotes

“Now she is silent. She stares off into the middle distance in an odd, abstracted manner that has developed in her over the past year or so. She’s lone inside that faraway look on her face, but this alone is different from the alone I’m very familiar with, the one that distorts her features into a mask of bitterness, the one in which she’s counting up her grievances and disappointments. This alone is soft not bitter, full of interest, not a trace of self-pity in it. Now when her eyes narrow it is to take in more clearly what she knows, concentrate on what she has lived. She shakes herself as though from a penetrating dream.
“People have a right to their lives.” (Page 61)

“And I’m willing, I’m willing. When I see the furious self-pity vanish from her face I allow my own to evaporate. If in the middle of provocative exchange she says, “Well, that’s the mother you got, it would have been better with another one, too damned bad this is the one you got,” and I nod, “You can say that again,” we both start laughing at the same time. Neither one of us, it seems, wishes to remain belligerent one sentence longer than the other. We are, I think, equally amazed that we have lived long enough to be responsive for whole minutes at a time simply to being in the world together rather than concentrating on what each of us is or is not getting from each other. ” (Page 199)

Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments, (NY: Touchstone Press, 1987)