Once in a while a book comes along that is like an old armchair.
You simply don’t want to get up. You could read on and on until your butt falls asleep.
Abigail Thomas’s new memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It is such a book. It’s really an homage to aging and to caring too much about many things.
It’s a book about shutting the door on the world once in a while and not bothering with it for a few days (my favorite part!).
Thank you, Abigail Thomas, for letting me sit in your armchair of a book for a few hours, for inviting me into this version of your life, and for spoiling me with delightful phrases like these, all underlined in my dog-eared copy:
“I can’t put the sky on until the sun sets.” (on painting)
“I realized friendship required attention, like a houseplant.”
“I have metabolized this stuff, I think, but every once in a while it returns in its original form and towers over everything. Like grief.”
“It was unpredictable, this moment, but it was always on its way.”
“I used to get upset if somebody I didn’t like loved a book I loved. That’s my book, I’d think.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I might be missing something with only dogs for companionship, but then I think about mornings. First there would be the discovery that there is no milk for someone who takes it in his coffee. Then the likelihood of conversation.”
“I don’t remember any of this; it’s like being a character in someone else’s story.”
“I don’t want to be filled with love, or longing, or desire, those emotional states I once pursued, but now think of as distractions from life rather than as life itself.”
“I am used to never getting used to it.” (grief for her husband)
“In order not to want what I don’t really want, I am careful about the movies I watch and I play music only in the car.”
“But when it gets dark, I’m off the hook. The day is officially rolled up and put away.”
“A couple of years later my family moved away and the future shifted.”
“We are electric after all, which is hard to remember because inside we are so wet.”
“It’s like being served a meal you didn’t order and couldn’t possibly eat, and all I want to do is send it back to the kitchen.”
“There isn’t any deep here. Just the simple desire to be not living one’s life.”
“I feel the dark god of nicotine raise himself on one elbow in my bloodstream. What took you so long, girl? he asks lazily.”
“And that awful phrase bangs around in the back of my mind: ‘likely to recur.'”
“Napping is divine, but I no longer have all the time in the world.”