Annie at Small World, Smaller Girl nominated me for the 3-day quote challenge, where … you pick some quotes you like and explain why you like them? This sounds a lot like the lit analysis essays I used to write in college. Is that what this is? Y’all are doing this for fun? I’m having flashbacks to my time as a writing tutor. But I mean, sure, this is kinda my jam, I can definitely write a 5-page essay in 2 hours, so let’s do this! (I also have a couple of awards I have to catch up on, and I’m working on it! I promise!)
This first quote is from Junot Díaz. You thought it would be Jane Austen, didn’t you? Nah, fam, that was a clever misdirection, although I choose it because I think it relates to the quote, which I’ll explain later, but mostly misdirection. Anyway, Junot Díaz is one of my favorite authors and an all-around pretty cool cat. He has a lot of great stuff to say about racism and toxic masculinity and nerd culture and immigration and the Dominican diaspora but honestly, his shit that hits me on the most gut level is when he talks about love. (These are two quotes that I’m going to put together as one, even though I think they are from two different interviews, but they are both from around the same time, promoting the same book, This Is How You Lose Her.)
You can’t find intimacy—you can’t find home—when you’re always hiding behind masks. Intimacy requires a certain level of vulnerability. It requires a certain level of you exposing your fragmented, contradictory self to someone else. You’re running the risk of having your core self rejected and hurt and misunderstood.
The idea is that the real home that you build in your world is a home of love. That is a home that is all about exposing yourself to vulnerability, it’s all about giving yourself fully to another person, it means that you feel comfortable and safe enough to drop all of your masks…also that you forgive in another person their flaws, because you’ve already encountered, embraced, forgiven your own flaws. And really I think as a human person—in my mind, I’ve always thought the final home of any human is in love.
A lot of his work deals with deconstructing the impact of toxic masculinity on relationships and finding love. His argument is generally that masculinity prevents vulnerability, which prevents true love from being discovered or sustained. And his thoughts on the matter have honestly given me so much insight into my own hopes and expectations, it’s crazy. He made me realize, when I first read his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at the tender age of 19, that love wasn’t just butterflies and frisson and getting laid, but an actual willingness to admit your own shortcomings enough to let someone else see them and accept them.
And that’s what Pride & Prejudice is about, right? Neither Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy are realize how their pride is preventing them from finding love, from being open and honest with themselves, much less someone else. (Ahhh, see what I did there?)
That realization changed my life, my way of thinking about what I wanted or didn’t want from relationships. It made me realize I don’t need to date someone for the sake of dating or having a boyfriend. It made me realize that love is scary for a reason, and that’s okay. It made me realize that it’s okay to just work on encountering, embracing, and forgiving my own flaws and maybe the rest will follow. It made me realize that while I may try to put up that mask of cynicism, at heart I really like this shit because I’m a romantic. (Something Miss Bennet and I have in common.)
Ok, so as an essay, this entry is kinda weak. I mean, my thesis is not particularly strong, and it’s not even 1,000 words. Did I pass? We’ll see how Day 2 pans out.
Meanwhile, check out Junot Díaz’s books, they are amazing and will change your life:
Also maybe read Pride & Prejudice? That shit is pretty good. Or at least watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube.