Monday, my boyfriend’s sister will be undergoing brain surgery for her meningioma. (Isn’t it odd to assume ownership for things we do not even want? Things we need to be rid off? Her meningioma, his lung cancer, my depression, our jadedness.) The operation will last eight hours, and that’s not counting pre-op, and post-op care. I’ll be in the hospital with my boyfriend, and his family, a couple of friends. Between talking to people, and giving hugs to unsuspecting relatives, The Boyfriend (let’s call him P.) has told me there’ll be a lot of time to kill, and it’s not exactly healthy spending 8+ hours wringing one’s hands. At least that’s what everyone tells us.
Of course, I will be reading. The ever-present need and fulfillment in burying myself in a good book has never been more timely. It’s not so much that I need to distract myself, or I need to make myself happier. At the most basic point, I need something to pass the time with. And I don’t think the family will appreciate my Scrabble rage come Monday. So, a solitary venture is called for. And I have no qualms about putting the book down to reach over and hold someone’s hand, or trekking to the hospital cafeteria to get coffee that’s actually not that bad. I will be reading. (Because I’ll go nuts otherwise.)
The last time I went to the hospital to visit her, I had the Eugenides anthology with me. I read a couple of pages of The Dead by James Joyce on the train on the way there, but I stopped. I reread, instead, A Rose for Emily by Faulkner, lingering over the parts I’ve always liked. Thumbing through that book, I realized that it wasn’t exactly appropriate reading for a stint in the hospital. They are not exactly the fluffiest of love stories. As Eugenides puts it, these stories “give love a bad name.” Besides, it doesn’t feel write that I read this with less than a dedicated soul.
What is appropriate?
I need a good companion. Something that’ll soothe me just because it’s there. Something that won’t take offense when I need to step away for a while and attend to real life. Maybe I’ll find some new essays by Hornby (I’ve developed a crush on how he reads, apparently). It doesn’t feel right that I read some romance, in any subgenre, although I’ve been hankering to finish the Moira Rogers books I’ve begun. Maybe I’ll read something completely odd. I’m quite certain, though, that I won’t be reading Number 9 Dream. And it won’t be the right time to get cracking on The Book Thief. I don’t know—but there are more important things to think about, of course. Everything’s just garnish.
It’s going to be rough going ahead. If you pray, please keep her in your prayers.