Friday, February 15, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera

I just finished reading the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was a painful book to read, very slow and the set up of the book made it difficult because there were no good stopping points unless you read for about an hour and I generally don’t have a full hour to sit and read for fun at one time. It was a touching (albeit sad) story. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might want to read the book although I will warn you it isn’t that good. The first 100 pages were good and the last 100 pages were good but the middle section was sort of like a root canal (I’ve never had one but so I’ve been told). It is interesting to see how the author switched between the character’s stories but other than that – painful. Why am I taking the time to write about it then you are wondering? Well, somehow it has stayed with me since finishing it on Sunday night and this is an attempt to figure out why.

I guess one reason is that I am a bit grateful to it for saving my mental health on Sunday night. I ended up having to fly to Spokane for my cousins wedding because the passes were closed (the wedding was wonderful by the way) and it just made it easier but my flight back was right in the middle of the Super Bowl. That was ok because I was mad the Packers weren’t in the game but was still a little disappointing to miss out. Anyway, evidently because of the game and my plane coming from Vegas which had bad weather and air traffic in AZ to deal with my flight was delayed so I was able to sit in the airport bar, have a beer and watch the entire game. It was perfect actually. I got up from watching the game and practically walked right onto the plane. I could not have planned it any better. While I was watching the game this guy sat down next to me at the bar. He was probably 24 years old and consumed three shots of tequila with three 20 ounce beer chasers during the second half. He had been there before me at the other end of the bar but got up and left and then came back and sat next to me during the second half so I don’t know how much he had to drink before I sat down. Needless to say the kid was drunk. We talked a little during the game but I had work to do so I was distracted (at least I looked distracted) and conversation was fairly limited. However, once I got on the plane that changed. Sometimes Southwest’s seating procedure is fine. This time unfortunately it didn’t work out as well for me. Bar guy got on the plane after me and asked to sit in the middle seat next to me. He smelled like a distillery and frankly was obnoxious. Thankfully, I had already pulled out my book in an attempt to finish it before the end of the weekend so he asked me about it. I told him how it was a story about finding true love and being willing to wait for whatever it took to get it. At that point his eyes glazed over and he left me alone. Phew.

I guess another reason is because the story really touched me somehow. I think part of the difficulty I had in reading the book was because it sort of scared me a little. As I said before I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who might want to read it but I think a short synopsis won’t hurt anyone. The story is about a man and a woman who meet when they are quite young. The boy falls in love with the girl and she in turn falls in love with him. Now this is a story from long ago so their courtship consisted of secret letters and he would stand in a park and play his violin for her when he knew the winds would carry the sound to her. Eventually, her dad found out about them and he did not approve so he took his daughter away. The lovers found ways to communicate with one another even when they were apart but when she eventually returned she realized she did not truly love him. That part was a bit odd to me because it was never really clear why she decided that her feelings no longer existed. Part of me wonders if it was because she was afraid of what would happen if she was in love with him or if she truly “fell out of love” with him. The book never really answers that question. Anyway, something like 56 years later, she has married another man and he dies and the boy – who is obviously not a boy anymore – comes to her and tells her he has loved her his entire life and is still in love with her. She rejects him again. This all happens in the first 100 pages or so. Then the book goes back through their lives apart from each other.

I think I found myself relating to the boy. He was devastated by being scorned by the girl and it changed his life. He never married but instead bounced around from relationship to relationship where really he never allowed himself to feel emotion but instead just allowed the physical aspects of the relationship to be the entirety of the depth of the relationships he engaged in. It was stated at one point by his one true friend who happened to be female that she had never seen a person so desiring to be loved. He followed the girl he loved at a distance his entire life, knowing what she was doing, where she traveled, when she had children, etc etc. It made him happy to know about her and her life but devastated him at the same time because he wanted to be able to share her life with her. His name is Florentino Ariza and the girl he loved is named Fermina Daza and at one point it is stated in the book “Florentino Ariza learned what he had already experienced many times without realizing it: that one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them. Alone in the midst of the crowd on the pier, he said to himself in a flash of anger: ‘My heart has more rooms than a whorehouse.’ He wept copious tears at the grief of parting. But as soon as the ship had disappeared over the horizon the memory of Fermina Daza once again occupied all his space.”

Anyway, a few minutes ago I started to go into this big analysis of myself and why this has struck me as powerful but then I erased it and I think I will stop now. You all don’t need to know or really care to know and I really am not sure just yet either. I just wanted to share that the book hit home to me and attempt by writing about it to figure out exactly why. I guess that isn’t going to happen here. In short the book was a powerful story of finding true love and being willing to wait for whatever it took to get it. Now your eyes have glazed over like drunk guy so just leave me alone in my reflections. haha Pick up the book and see where and if it strikes you. It isn’t REALLY as bad as a root canal.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

So I'm reading your post, following along, and then you decide to up and leave the nice string of thoughts carrying both me and you through it... And with no warning! I had to laugh! Hope you figure out why its still with you.