“There were some small improvements. I now owned not one electric bicycle but a fleet of electric bicycles. In this sense, as far as I was concerned, I resembled a rock star I knew who owned a fleet of aero-planes. Yes, I had one e-bike locked up under the tree and two more in the garage. Friends came to stay from all over the world and we cycled around London together. It was a gesture towards a life I wanted, that is to say, an extended family of friends and their children, an expanded family rather than a nuclear family, which in this phase of my life seemed a happier way to live. If I wanted a spare room for every friend, my flat could not support this idea. If I wanted a fireplace in every room, there were no fireplaces in my flat. So what was I going to do with all this wanting?”
A timeless question – What have I done with my life?, sometimes interposed with a more materialistic – What do I have to show for it?
I appreciate how Levy captures the questions and how we answer ourselves, never losing a sense of optimism. I have read and adored Levy’s previous two volumes of her living autobiography. In this volume, she goes into questions about patriarchy and a woman’s place in this world, and much as one yearns for a strong message or resolution, I understand why sometimes ambivalence holds sway. We may not get the outcome we want in this lifetime, but we have to keep on trying.
Living is striving. Living is keenly observing. You may or may not have real estate to show for it.
“Yet my encounter with this rented house was a taunt, a provocation; it made me feel more alive. If I was full of desire for its ambience and grace, the fact that I did not have the means to buy it only accelerated my desire. Perhaps it was not the house but desire itself that made me feel more alive.
Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it.
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space“