One day you do meet a man who kisses you and you can’t breathe around it and you realize you don’t need air. Oxygen is trivial. Desire makes life happen. Makes it matter. Makes everything worth it. Desire is life. Hunger to see the next sunrise or sunset. To touch the one you love. To try again.
That life - whatever else it is - is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.
So many vows... they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.
To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing--I'm sorry, I would rather not go on.
And then there was you. You changed everything I believed in. You know that line from Dante that I quoted to you in the park? 'L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle'?"
Her lips curled a little at the sides as she looked up at him. "I still don't speak Italian."
"It's a bit of the very last verse from Paradiso - Dante's Paradise. 'My will and my desire were turned by love, the love that moves the sun and the other stars.' Dante was trying to explain faith, I think, as an overpowering love, and maybe it's blasphemous, but that's how I think of the way I love you. You came into my life and suddenly I had one truth to hold on to - that I loved you, and you loved me.
I have mastered many things in my life. Navigating the streets of London, speaking French without an accent, dancing the quadrille, the Japanese art of flower arranging, lying at charades, concealing a highly intoxicated state, delighting young women with my charms..."
"Alas," he went on, "no one has ever actually referred to me as 'the master,' or 'the magister,' either. More's the pity...