Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CHAPTER 5 (part 2)

Last night after I stopped writing and crawled into bed, I lay wide awake— as usual— curled up in the customary fetal position, arms aching, legs heavy and dead. All I could do was wrack my brains hoping to figure out the reasons why this blew up in my face. After all, what's the big fucking deal? Married woman gets involved with a younger man, her fingers get singed, it happens everyday, right? The whole thing sounds so ordinary, so middle-class, so tawdry.

One thing made it different: whatever you want to call it, "dalliance," "liaison," it was no big secret from P. He knew I was spending a lot of time with S., knew he was getting into my head, and it never seemed to bother him. He knew I found S. attractive— I made sure of that, I don't believe in deception. What's more, by the final act of this domestic drama, the three of us were hanging out together almost every day— like the close friends we'd become. That last happy day at Toad's was the rule, not the exception.

As husbands go, he's always been absolutely trusting and unthreatened by my friendships with men here at Yale. I mean, it's natural for me to swim in the sea of undergrads. For one thing, I'm closer in age to them than he is (he's 28). Plus graduate students are in a far different orbit than undergrads. He knows I'm bored and restless, so the amazing amount of cultural activities at Yale filled up my spare time. Sampling all the varied intellectual fruits like the good dilettante I am meant less time to get into mischief. Not to mention that S. was over at our apartment all the time. He became a fixture in our lives throughout Spring semester.

Now? Just when I could use some real distraction, the school year is over and those wonderful cultural offerings— concerts, exhibits, lectures, film series— have shriveled up until Fall. The Summer promises to be dull— and empty. I hope I'm wrong.
S. hung around so much because the two of us were slogging away at his Senior thesis, me typing, him revising the scrawl he called handwriting. At first P. stayed mostly in his study, I'm sure he found the subject (history) and the level (undergraduate) less than scintillating. Plus, he's a bit shy around new people. Whenever we have a party, for example, at some point in the evening he'll slip off to his study and leave the entertaining to me. Yet gradually he became part of the Senior thesis carnival in our kitchen, slipping into the river of banter, distracting us with witty comments or off-hand discussions about a new book he was reading or a joke de Man had told him after class.

Yale Comp Lit is the center of the literary world right now because of this new theory called Deconstruction, and de Man is one of its brightest lights. It's not so important what Deconstruction's about—something along the lines of how language shapes our understanding of the world. What makes this so exciting is that Yale's like one of those 19th Century literary salons I've read about where smart, creative people sit around smoking, drinking absinthe and discussing important topics in the arts and culture.

I don't always "get it," so suffice it to say, it's heady stuff. Sometimes I want to fall back on Humpty Dumpty's line to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, I think it goes "when I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less." I'm just a naïve reader, what do I know?

to be continued