It is not the conscious changes made in their lives by men and women — a new job, a new town, a divorce — which really shape them, like the chapter headings in a biography, but a long, slow mutation of emotion, hidden, all-penetrative; something by which they may be so taken up that the practical outward changes of their lives in the world, noted with surprise, scandal, or envy by others, pass almost unnoticed by themselves.
She had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive, or fun they could be. They weren't worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive, and the upkeep was complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around the house that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it. She wanted her next lover to be a broom.
When we fall in love with someone there's a moment when we take a picture of that person, an emotional snapshot, that we carry with us forever. If we're lucky, if we're very, very lucky, the person we fall in love with will always resemble that snapshot.
Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." . . . I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions, like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects to "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.
I'm the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.