“I don’t regret what has happened between us, Mike’s arms seem to say. And then, toward dawn, I still don’t regret what has happened.
But in the morning, when he again sits on he ede of the bed this time tying his shoes before he leaves – she lied and told him her shift at the library stars at eight o’clock – she stands there with her arms folded. When he also stands, he sets his hand on her back, and though it’s a nice gesture, it feels arbitrary and unnatural, as if he could just as easily have placed his hand on the top of her head or gripped her elbow. It feels symbolic; they are actors in a play, and the director has told him to touch her so the audience will understand there’s a bond between them. She wants him gone. ”
“Right away, her awareness of him, of their proximity, had become greater than her distress over the splinter. She didn’t care about the splinter at all. Maybe it had only been an excuse to begin with. His hair was back to brown again, the dyed part had grown out, and she liked his bent head, she liked his man’s fingers, she liked how they barely needed to speak, how unsurprised he’d seemed to find her outside his door. It felt inevitable. In their lives together, he’s recognize her a a member of his tribe: He wouldn’t mistake her quietness for niceness, her sense of responsibility for humorless-ness; he wouldn’t even mistake her prudishness for real prudishness. He’d be boisterous and obnoxious, and he wouldn’t think that talking about other people was slightly immoral. She wouldn’t feel the loneliness of being the only one who had opinions. When leaving a restaurant where they’d eaten with a group, if she reared on what a small tip one person had left, or on how long and dull another person’s story about his trip to France had been, Oliver would have noticed these things too. He wouldn’t say in an aggressively plesant way, “I really enjoyed hearing about the trip.” ”
“But maybe this is what Hannah has always wanted:
a man who will deny her.
A man of her own who isn’t hers. Isn’t it the real reason she broke up with Mike? – not because he moved to North Caarolina for law school (he wanted her to go with him, and she said no) but because he adored her?
If she asked him to get out of bed and bring her a glass of water, he did. If she was in a bad mood, he tried to soothe her. It didn’t bother him if she cried, or if she didn’t wash her hair or shave her legs or have anything interesting to say. He forgave it all, he always thought she was beautiful, he always wanted to be around her. It became so boring!
She’d been raised, after all, not to be accomodated but to accomodate, and if she was his world, then his world was small, he was easily satisfied.
She wanted to feel like she was striving cleanly forward, walking into a bracing wind and learning from her mistkes, and she felt instead like she was sitting on a deep squishy sofa, eating Cheetos, in an overheated room.
With Oliver, there is always contrast to shape their days, tension to keep them on their toes: You are far from me, you are close to me. We are fighting, we are getting along.”