When I read a book and I come across a line, a phrase, or a paragraph I like, I copy out the quotation in my journal. (And, I confess, if the book belongs to me I fold down the page and/or underline the part I like.) Sometimes I share these quotations when I write my book reviews here. Sometimes I don’t, because they’re too long or they don’t really fit in with what I’m trying to say about the book.
I was recently tagged in a 3-Day Quote Challenge by Judith over at her blog. So I’m taking the opportunity to share some of the quotes I’ve copied down so far this year but haven’t shared here. Interspersed with some recent photos because it’s nice to have something to look at, right?
My quote for Day #1 comes from Heather O’Neill’s short story collection Daydreams of Angels. This particular story is titled “The Conference of Birds”.
Are you who you are when you are a tiny fetus? There are some people who will say that you aren’t properly you yet. But of course you are.
You are you even long before that. You are you when your parents begin to get dressed in fancy clothes one Saturday night. You are you when your mother, who is barely twenty-one years old, puts on a pair of yellow lace underwear. When she plucks her eyebrows in the mirror and when she puts on a red dress that is cut really low and burgundy lipstick: that’s all about you,baby.
You are you when your father, who is also twenty-one years old, pops a pimple on his forehead. When he puts on his fancy shiny shirt that was made by children in a sweatshop in Indonesia. When he isn’t sure that he actually looks good – but he has been lucky twice before when wearing it.
They are both riding the subway in opposite directions to meet each other and you have already begun. That is your beginning. You have as much right to be as anybody.
Heather O’Neill just gets it so right in the details. She nails the nerves, the excitement, the small moments of preparing for a first date. And I love this idea of how our lives – our very existence – is set into motion long before we ever exist. When you think back over the moments that had to occur just so your life could happen, it’s kind of amazing. Think of the moments your grandparents met. The choice your great-grandfather made that led down the line to your life. That the fact I’m typing this out today all began more than forty years ago when my parents went roller skating.
Our beginnings are complicated and important and good to be reminded of and O’Neill does a beautiful job here.
What are your favourite quotes? Something you’ve read recently or loved for years? Share it on your own blog or in the comments!