Conversations With Friends
- Sally Rooney
- My last highlight
- Number of highlights
I sat in bed in the morning writing poetry, hitting the return key whenever I wanted.
When I got back to my apartment I felt drunker than I had been at the house. Bobbi had gone home and I was on my own. I turned all the lights on before I went to bed. Sometimes that was something I did.
Though I knew that I would eventually have to enter full-time employment, I certainly never fantasized about a radiant future where I was paid to perform an economic role. Sometimes this felt like a failure to take an interest in my own life, which depressed me. On the other hand, I felt that my disinterest in wealth was ideologically healthy.
The lights came up onstage, and the actress playing Maggie came on and started yelling in a Southern accent. It wasn’t a bad accent, but it still felt like an actor’s accent.
I concluded that some kinds of reality have an unrealistic effect, which made me think of the theorist Jean Baudrillard, though I had never read his books and these were probably not the issues his writing addressed.
When we came out of the theater it was raining again. I felt pure and tiny like a newborn baby.
We followed her into the kitchen, which was dim and full of music and people wearing long necklaces.
Hi Frances, said Melissa’s voice. I said hello, though what I meant was: I hope you haven’t found out about me sleeping with your husband.
When she ordered tea, it came in a pot with a fiddly china teacup and saucer, which she smiled at gamely. Do you like this place? she said. It’s okay, I replied, realizing I hated it.
The first time I saw her I just started crying, she was so small. This was by far the most emotion I’d ever heard Nick express, and I was jealous. I thought about making a joke of how jealous I was, but it felt creepy to be jealous of a baby, and I doubted Nick would appreciate it. That’s sweet, I said.
I’m bettering myself, I thought. I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.
The beach was full of young families lying out on colored towels, applying sun lotion on each other’s backs.
There were children playing with plastic toys nearby and yelling at one another in French, which sounded urbane and sophisticated to me because I couldn’t understand it.
His voice wandered up and down the tonal scale when he spoke. His drunkenness made me feel unclean. I wanted to shower or eat a fresh piece of fruit.
I didn’t really know what to add, and anyway it seemed clear that no matter how unsubtly I fished for his reassurance he wasn’t going to provide it. We went on kissing and I tried not to think about it.
I’m sure it’ll all be fine, said Evelyn. Nick said nothing, and neither did I. His silence was significant and mine was not because his opinion on whether things would be fine, unlike mine, was important.
Valerie spoke with a moneyed British accent, too rich to be comical.
Then I showered until I felt really clean and padded back to my room wrapped in towels. I sat on the bed, water running from my hair down onto my back, and cried. It was okay to cry because nobody could see me, and I would never tell anyone about it.
My discovery that I was in love with Nick, not just infatuated but deeply personally attached to him in a way that would have lasting consequences for my happiness, had prompted me to feel a new kind of jealousy toward Melissa.
I shared in this desire for moral superiority over my enemies. Jesus always wanted to be the better person, and so did I. I underlined this passage in red pencil several times, to illustrate that I understood the Christian way of life. The
I made a “hm” noise, because I thought he was right but I didn’t want to think so.
I lay there and let him continue. He asked me if I liked it rough and I told him I didn’t think so, but he pulled my hair anyway. I wanted to laugh, and after that I hated myself for feeling superior.
Wait, are you okay? he said. Why are you crying? I’m not crying. Incidentally it turned out that I was crying. It was just something my eyes were doing while we were talking. He touched the side of my face where it was wet.
After a few seconds, I heard her open the front door, and then her voice saying: she’s had a really rough day, so just be nice to her. And Nick said: I know, I will. I loved them both so much in this moment that I wanted to appear in front of them like a benevolent ghost and sprinkle blessings into their lives. Thank you, I wanted to say. Thank you both. You are my family now.
When I’m at work he sometimes sends me interesting articles about leftists in Greece. Does he send you the same ones or are they personalized?
He made a funny, surprised face, then exhaled through his mouth. That’s intense, he said. Thank you for saying that. I have to laugh now or I’m going to start crying.
He squinted up at me as if I’d disappointed him in some way and then told me to sit down.
When there were four of us I always thought in terms of couples anyway, which threatened me, since all the possible couples that didn’t involve me seemed so much more interesting than the ones that did.
When I came home in the evening we ate dinner together. She moved some of her clothing into my room, some T-shirts and clean underwear. In bed we folded around each other like origami.
It’s possible to feel so grateful that you can’t get to sleep at night.
I was striving to love everyone, which meant I tried to stay quiet.