So Long See You Tomorrow – William Maxwell


“Though as a grown man I have often stood and looked at the old house, I have never been inside it since that day, when a great many objects that I remember and would like to be reunited with disappeared without a trace: Victorian walnut sofas and chairs that my fingers had absently traced every knob and scroll of, mahogany tables, worn oriental rugs, gilt mirrors, pictures, big square books full of photographs that I knew by heart. If they hadn’t disappeared then, they would have on some other occasion, life being, as Ortega y Gasset somewhere remarks, in itself and forever shipwreck.”

“I seem to remember that I went to the new house one winter day and saw snow descending through the attic to the upstairs bedrooms. It could also be that I never did any such thing, for I am fairly certain that in a snapshot album I have lost track of there was a picture of the house taken in the circumstances I have just described, and it is possible that I am remembering that rather than an actual experience. What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory -meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion- is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
“The house was too new to be comfortable. It was like having to spend a lot of time with a person you didn’t know very well.”

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