Today is October the 20th, a Monday, partly blue with blusters of blustery wind and scattered, occasional, not really trying all that hard, rain. It’s also the first day I have worn a scarf. My pants are red.
Earlier, I thought about a Vietnamese cafe called Palpitation. I only ever visited the cafe once, but I think of it from time to time for many reasons. One, the woman who owned it, and would later move to Thailand, was the only person there, and it was kind of awkward, and we might never have spoken except, up above her counter, written in chalk, there was this quote.
I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.
It’s from John Green’s book Looking for Alaska.
At the time of me standing in that cafe, in Vietnam, the only other person near me the owner of an otherwise empty cafe, I had read one John Green book in my life, The Fault in our Stars, which had been my brilliant choice to read around the time my mom died. It is a sad story full of happiness. Which, I suppose, could just as well be a way of saying that it was a happy story full of sadness. I’m not sure which is truer, of the book or of life, but I do know that I very much loved the book, and I mentioned this to the cafe owner and we briefly chatted, about John Green (she hadn’t read TFiOS), about words, about otherwise empty cafes, and we friended each other on Facebook. She very soon, as I said, left the country and we may very well never speak again, and her cafe is very likely something else now, the quote erased. But, the quote, the moment, the woman, the cafe, all remain, as certain words, moments, and people do, safely tucked away in my mind, ready to return at the strangest moments, such as today, after preparing a lunch of roasted vegetables and polenta, I sat down in my London flat, began to eat, and watched this video, which reminded me that Looking for Alaska was published 10 years ago, and that quote was seen by me one year ago, and I’ve still not read the book.
So, I will do that. Starting tomorrow.
Happy partly blue, readers.
p.s. The vlogbrothers are, in large part, why I ended up deciding to throw my hat in the ring of videographical logging of things and stuff. This video by Hank, for example, does a great job of explaining how the vlogbrothers achieve their vlogbrotheriness.