ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS I have been gifted was a copy of “Hopscotch” by Julio Cortazar. It was given to me by my friend Dinah (not by Cortazar, to be clear). And, like many of the best things in my life, I resisted it at first. However, with all the name-dropping of French and South American writers, actors and artists, I could never get past page four. Five years later, needing something for a flight to Atlanta (love that city), I grabbed it, thinking that maybe it would be a good thing to swallow a huge dose of pretentious literature. I know, I could have grabbed anything Russian, but this day I went for the Argentine.
Boy howdy am I glad I did. This book was unlike anything else before or since. It has a utterly unique ‘hopscotch’ structure that provides two books in one (you can read it straight through, or by jumping around from certain pages to others, as prescribed in the intro) and is so filled with jagged angles that it can rip your fingertips if you’re not careful. All these years later, I can still feel the power and the pull of it, can still catch its scent when I thumb the pages, can still close my eyes and freefall through the atmosphere of it and into a world that will always be mine to visit. It’s that kind of book. You know, like the Narnia novels, only for grownups and set in Paris and Bueno Aires where everyone smokes, drinks and argues all the time. It’s really quite lovely, and I promise it’s just plain old different than anything you’ve ever read. There’s a circus, a missing girl (who I fell in love with), a mental hospital and lots and lots of rain and walking around in it and stuff like that. Sounds perfect, right?
Anyway, earlier tonight I was diving into the file cabinets in my garage that hold the first half of my life and the last half of my dad’s. There’s a lot in there that I’ve never seen and I dip in from time to time just to get a feel, a taste, a hit of something new and old, and it’s mostly always a good thing. I was investigating a stack of papers and this little scrap fell out (see photo). It’s a quote from the book that I jotted down right after reading it. These words have stuck with me ever since, and, really, pushed me away from certain paths and towards others.
“Because the world doesn’t really matter if you don’t have the strength to go ahead and choose something that’s really true.”
It really doesn’t, does it?
[The “Life Moments” series consists of half-hour morning exercises. I sit, let a memory bubble up and type it out …. with the clock set for one half hour. Doesn’t leave much time for worrying about grammar or editing. Just get the stuff out the door. All associated photos are mine.]