the history of love: nicole krauss

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Are you the happiest and saddest right now that you've ever been?" 
"Of course I am. Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you."

at night, I read until my eyes were sore from reading and crying and reading and then crying some more. books do that to me, this book did that to me. I finished it in the morning, lay in bed not moving, until it was done. and once it was done it was not gone. 

I feel it throughout the day. its words are inside of me, because I am the happiest and yet the saddest I have ever been. I can be the happiest because I've got a trip to Norway secured. because I have a new job in the forest on weekends. because I see him playing guitar or staring at me with one eye covered by the pillow next to me. but I am the saddest. I am the saddest because I feel like I am carrying around with me a tightness in my chest and love in my throat that no one knows. that I can't begin to explain.

this old man, Leo, is living his life, loving a woman he has loved his entire life. and he has lived his life doing things for him, and he can unlock any door in the city, and he has written his life in words on a typewriter, and he goes around the city living his day - and yet no one knows. no one knows that he loves a woman, and that he wants her to be happy, every day, and that he is constantly thinking of her.

and when I go downtown to the shopping center, I wonder if the woman at the counter sees it in my eyes. as she's showing me lotion and I smile and nod, I wonder if she knows how much my eyes are feeling right now. they are taking in everything, from the sparkle of the soap to the black on the ground, and yet they are taking in nothing.

I am noticing everything, and yet everything in me is not being noticed. 

and when I sit on the bus, I wonder if the person next to me can feel it when my leg presses into the seat. I half expect them to turn to me and say, "I understand." but they only see the library books sticking out of my bag, they see my rain jacket with the fuzzy velcro, they see my hair braided back away from my face. that is what they see. 

and when I am in my apartment and it is night time and I've watched six episodes of gilmore girls in a row, and my roommates are all getting ready for bed, I wonder if they notice. notice that by the second episode I'm not fully engaged. notice that by 1am, in an unlike olivia fashion, I am still awake and staring at the side of my wall and not crying but not smiling. 

because I am the happiest that I have been, full of hope and a mind of great things in the future, but I am the saddest I have ever been. It is a sweet, romantic sadness that I have never felt. it is the first time I have felt this much hopeful love (maybe that's the correct word) kept up inside of me. but because of what the words in this book have pinpointed, I am carrying around a feeling that I do not know how to express because I do not know the words. 

"When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?"


  1. i read this book when i was in high school. everyone said it's a great book, but i couldn't finish the book. maybe it's because i read the translation version, i don't know. haha

    i still cannot quite grasp the fact that indeed, we can be happy and sad at the same time. want while doesn't want something. but all in all, i think we cannot be happy all the time. it's just not human. we can be generally happy or generally sad in life. for whatever it is, i hope you feel better soon.

  2. This is beautiful and I feel it within me so much. That quote, wow, it speaks so perfectly. I'm glad to have found it through your post.

    Your blog is wonderful

    1. isn't it so interesting that someone else's words can hold such truth to our current feelings? the rest of this book is equally as beautiful. thank you, samantha.