I was walking along a path surrounded only by cliffs, rocks and sand – there were no plants of any kind. A young man ran past me, then stopped and turned back, disoriented and anguished, and told me that his home kept changing, so much that he could not recognize it. I woke up a little and realized that this was a dream, and went on dreaming. He and I entered a wooden house together. It was evidently his home. Then, even as we stood in it, it became the set for a play, and it changed each time the act changed, though I don’t remember what went on in this play, if anything went on.
We quarrelled again, it must have been for the fifth time. That night he left me, angry, and then came back. He came back as though against his will, since he was still angry. The next night and for several days after that he did not come to me at all, and during that time I did not know where he was. I had told him something that shocked him. It did not shock me, because I was only saying to him what I had been thinking for some time, and it did not hurt me, because I was the one saying it. It only shocked me later, when I saw it differently, and saw how he would not have wanted to hear it. At the time I thought I could tell him anything I liked, quite openly, and he would be able to understand it and sympathize with it, as though he were not a separate person any more but a part of me, so that he could feel what I felt along with me and not be more troubled by it than I was.
He was calm at first, after I said what I said that shocked him, but then he became angry and went away. He went away, and then came back later, still angry. He took sheets from the dryer and put them on the bed while I watched. He went to bed and fell asleep without saying anything.
He did not appear the next night and did not call me. I called his apartment, and there was no answer. I kept getting up out of bed to call him and then going back to bed and trying to read. I was surprised to find, however, that even though he had slept in my bed nearly every night since we had met, I felt I had immediately returned to what I had been before, alone at night, as though I had never met him.
Yet at the same time I was thinking of him so constantly, so much more constantly than I had when he was with me, and with such concentration, that he was extremely present in the room, coming between me and whatever else I tried to think about. I could see that I had betrayed him by feeling what I had felt and saying what I had said, but I could also think that such a betrayal produced a kind of faithfulness, because I had aroused such feelings of ardour and remorse in myself that I managed to achieve a passionate loyalty I had not achieved before. So there I lay, alone, as though I would always be alone, but also strangely in his presence.
I was afraid to turn off the light, though it was past one in the morning, and then two, and then three. As long as the light burned next to me and I held a book in front of me and read the page now and then, I was safe, I was distracted from certain thoughts. The worst thought was that he might have gone to someone else out of revenge, and I could not avoid that thought for long before it came back to me. And this turned out to be what he had done, I found out later.
I knew it was not fair to believe I could do what I liked and he could not, that I could have a certain feeling for another man and he could not go to another woman, but I never decided any- thing according to what was fair, or maybe never decided anything in the first place but allowed myself to be pulled in one direction or another by what I wanted just at that moment.
Early in the morning, after I had been asleep a short time, I dreamed I heard his step on the terrace outside. In my dream the dog whined and he said to her gently: ‘Is she here?’ But he had not come by the time I woke up. Later in the day Madeleine and I went down the block to the corner café and sat at a table outside studying Italian together.We went through the lesson slowly because we were both distracted: I was watching out for him, and Madeleine was convinced that two people standing at a nearby corner were talking about her. She kept looking over her shoulder at them and mumbling, so that I, as I tried to take dictation from her, couldn’t hear very well. After a while we stopped trying to work and just sat there in the sunlight.
Waiting for him again that night, when he would not come, created a dark space like a large room, a room that opened into the night from my room and filled it with dark draughts of air. Because I did not know where he was, the city seemed larger, and seemed to come right into my room: he was in some place, and that place, though unknown to me, was present in my mind and was a large dark thing inside me. And that place, that strange room where he was, where I imagined him to be, with another person, became part of him, too, as I imagined him, so that he was changed, he contained that strange room and I contained it, too, because I contained him in that room and that room in him.
Because he was so absent, and in doubt, having disappeared without a word, without the connection of a plan, a day or hour when we would see each other again, the only way I could keep him near me was by the strength of my will, summoning all of him to me and holding him there moment by moment, so that now all of him seemed present to me, whereas at other times only a part of him was present. And in the same way that the smell of him would hang in my nostrils when he was with me, now an essence of him filled me, a savour of him that was more than his smell or taste, a distillation of the whole of him permeated me or floated inside me.
He was doing this to me. I felt it very much coming from him against me. But the very strength of it, the very force of it, was also the force of how much he loved me, and I felt that, too, so that in the extreme force of the harm I felt from him, I felt his love, too. And the longer he stayed away from me, the more strongly I felt how much he loved me, and the more strongly I believed I loved him.