She was probably too cool, too self-possessed. Some of our classmates must have thought her cold and haughty. But I detected something else—something warm and fragile just below the surface. Something very much like a child playing hide-and-seek, hidden deep within her, yet hoping to be found.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 68-70. Accessed: 1/16/2014
What I wanted was clear enough. Izumi naked, having sex with me. But that final destination was still a long way down the road. There was a certain order of events one had to follow. To arrive at sex, you first had to undo the fastener of the girl’s dress. And between dress fastener and sex lay a process in which twenty—maybe thirty—subtle decisions and judgments had to be made.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 284-87. Accessed: 1/16/2014
But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 327-28. Accessed: 1/16/2014
As the sun set, the wind grew cold. Winter was fast approaching. And when the new year came, there would be college entrance exams and the beginning of a brand-new life. Uneasy though I was, I yearned for change. My heart and body both craved this unknown land, a blast of fresh air. That was the year Japanese universities were taken over by their students and Tokyo was engulfed in a storm of demonstrations. The world was transforming itself right before my eyes, and I was dying to catch that fever. Even if Izumi wanted me to stay and would have sex with me to ensure that, I knew my days in this sleepy town were numbered. If that meant the end of our relationship, so be it. If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever—something I couldn’t afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they’re seventeen.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 454-60. Accessed: 1/16/2014
For the next two months we had such passionate sex I thought our brains were going to melt. No movies, no walks, no small talk about novels, music, life, war, revolution. All we did was bang away. We must have talked a little, but I can’t for the life of me recall what about. All I remember are detailed concrete images–the alarm clock near her pillow, the curtains on the windows, the black phone on the table, the photos on the calendar, and her clothes tossed aside on the floor. And the smell of her skin and her voice. I never asked any questions, and she reciprocated. Just once, though, as we lay in bed, I suddenly wondered aloud whether she was, perhaps, an only child. “That’s right,” she said, with a quizzical look. “But how did you know?” “No particular reason. I just sensed it.” She looked at me for a while. “Maybe you’re an only child too?” “You got it,” I said. That’s all I remember about our conversations.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 492-500. Accessed: 1/16/2014
We were too different, and time would only have magnified our differences.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 516-17. Accessed: 1/16/2014
College transported me to a new town, where I tried, one more time, to reinvent myself. Becoming someone new, I could correct the errors of my past. At first I was optimistic: I could pull it off. But in the end, no matter where I went, I could never change. Over and over I made the same mistake, hurt other people, and hurt myself in the bargain.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 542-44. Accessed: 1/16/2014
Just after I turned twenty, this thought hit me: Maybe I’ve lost the chance to ever be a decent human being. The mistakes I’d committed—maybe they were part of my very makeup, an inescapable part of my being. I’d hit rock bottom, and I knew it.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 545-46. Accessed: 1/16/2014
Mechanically, I did the work assigned me, and I spent my free time reading or listening to music. Work is just a boring obligation, I decided, and when I’m not working, I’m going to use my time the best way I can and enjoy myself. So I never went out drinking with the guys from work. Not that I was a loner who didn’t get along with people. I just didn’t make the effort to get to know my officemates on a personal level. I was determined that my free time was going to be mine.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 568-71. Accessed: 1/16/2014
I withdrew into myself. I ate alone, took walks alone, went swimming alone, and went to concerts and movies alone. I didn’t feel hurt or sad. I often thought of Shimamoto and of Izumi, and wondered where they were now, what they were doing. For all I knew, they might be married, even have children. I would have given anything to see them, to talk with them, even for an hour. With Shimamoto and Izumi, I could be honest I racked my brains wondering how to get back together with Izumi, how to see Shimamoto again. How wonderful that would be, I imagined. Not that I actually took steps to see that it came true. The two of them were lost to me forever. The hands of a clock run in only one direction. I started talking to myself, drinking alone at night. I was sure I would never get married.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 576-81. Accessed: 1/16/2014
If I was going to get hurt, I thought it would be better to go on living with the happy memories of when we were together.”
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 1059-60. Accessed: 1/17/2014
“I was sure you weren’t ever coming here again.” “Forgive me,” she said. “Are you angry?” “I’m not angry. I don’t get angry at things like that. This is a bar, after all. People come when they want to, leave when they feel like it. My job’s just to wait for them.”
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 1166-68. Accessed: 1/17/2014
Once again Shimamoto had disappeared from my life. This time, though, leaving nothing to pin my hopes on. No more probablys. No more for a whiles.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 2227-28. Accessed: 1/17/2014
Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality—call it an alternate reality—to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this chain that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist But something can happen to sever that chain, and we are at a loss. What is real? Is reality on this side of the break in the chain? Or over there, on the other side?
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 2367-73. Accessed: 1/17/2014
Children are afraid of her, my old classmate said. When I’d heard that, I didn’t understand what he meant I couldn’t grasp what those words were attempting to convey. But now, with Izumi right before my eyes, I understood. Her face had nothing you could call an expression. No, that’s not an entirely accurate way of putting it I should put it this way: Like a room from which every last stick of furniture had been taken, anything you could possibly call an expression had been removed, leaving nothing behind. Not a trace of feeling grazed her face; it was like the bottom of a deep ocean, silent and dead. And with that utterly expressionless face, she was staring at me. At least I think she was looking at me. Her eyes were gazing straight ahead in my direction, yet her face showed me nothing. Or rather, what it showed was this: an infinite blank.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 2390-96. Accessed: 1/17/2014
“I always feel like I’m struggling to become someone else. Like I’m trying to find a new place, grab hold of a new life, a new personality. I guess it’s part of growing up, yet it’s also an attempt to reinvent myself. By becoming a different me, I could free myself of everything. I seriously believed I could escape myself–as long as I made the effort. But I always hit a dead end. No matter where I go, I still end up me. What’s missing never changes. The scenery may change, but I’m still the same old incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that I can never satisfy. I guess that lack itself is as close as I’ll come to defining myself. For your sake, I’d like to become a new person. It may not be easy, but if I give it my best shot, perhaps I can manage to change. The truth is, though, if put in the same situation again, I might very well do the same thing all over. I might very well hurt you all over again. I can’t promise anything. That’s what I meant when I said I had no right I just don’t have the confidence to win over that force in me.”
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 2459-67. Accessed: 1/17/2014
Dying is not that hard. Like the air being sucked slowly out of a room, the will to live was slowly seeping out of me. When you feel like that, dying doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Kindle Edition. loc. 2476-77. Accessed: 1/17/2014