Vivian Gornick wrips the rawness from you and makes you want to unveil it all, your truths, your skeletons, your loneliness, all that is real. It is not sudden however; she opens you up slowly, after several paragraphs, several pages.
We walk through every New York ‘street,’ with her….it is in the language and energy of those streets where we are also lost with her. Perhaps something only a New Yorker could understand, yet I found myself connecting with every character, every thought, every moment, every……..Is it because I too, am alone living an urban world and have done so (alone and not) in several cities around the world?
In New York, there is more isolation perhaps than most urban centers, yet there are also so many rich communities, something I am reminded of everytime I set foot on its streets. While we are never left with the feeling that Gornick escapes loneliness, we experience a vibrancy on each connection to the ‘street’ and everything that the ‘street’ brings her. Perhaps it is just the promise of the street.
A smile, a quick kiosk exchange, a casual back and forth on the bus, the vibrant colors of woman’s dress in mid-town, black and silver in the East Village, its richness and connection is all there for the taking. Loneliness remains prevalent and yet for those few precious moments or hours, it somehow feels like it left the conversation.
In Approaching Eye Level, we learn so much about loneliness, tributes, connection, and lacks more than haves. As I turn the pages, I think and say, yes yes yes, and probably would have at 20.
She writes, “marriage promises friendship, when it fails to deliver the bond is destroyed.”
“Community promises friendship; when it fails to deliver the enterprise is dissolved.”
“The life of the mind promises conversation; when it fails to deliver its disciples grow eccentric.”
“It’s easier actually to be alone, than to be in the presence of that which arouses the need, but fails to address it. For then, we are in the presence of the absence and that, somehow, is not to be borne. The absence reminds us, in the worst way, that we are indeed alone: it suppresses fantasy, chokes off hope.
The liveliness we start out with is stifled. We become demoralized and grow inert. The inertness is a kind of silence. The silence becomes an emptiness. One cannot really live with emptiness. The pressure is terrible; unendurable, in fact; not to be borne. Either one breaks out, or one becomes inured.”
Vivian, your rawness and authenticity is so there. So on. Thank you.