The Silver Year: Chapter 3

Chapter​​ 3

à La Recherche de L'amour Perdu

 

MAY​​ 2011

“‘You are what you love,​​ not what loves you.’​​ Do you think that’s true?”​​ Catherine​​ asked​​ as credits rolled on their second Saturday movie​​ night.​​ Movie night used to​​ be​​ on​​ Monday when Walter didn’t have a show, but​​ Perfect Crime’s​​ residency​​ at The House of Blues​​ had​​ recently​​ been​​ promoted from​​ first​​ Monday​​ every​​ month​​ to​​ every​​ Monday​​ every week. Also, since the​​ success​​ of their West Coast tour, they no longer had to do covers.

 “No,”​​ Amber said little-spooned into Walter on​​ her mother’s chocolate brown living room​​ couch. Love​​ exists between​​ people, not between yourself. It’s just clever wordplay pretending to be​​ substantive—a lot like this movie. Mom,​​ I know youre just starting​​ to explore​​ film and have​​ taken a liking to​​ Kaufman, but​​ I think you’ll eventually realize​​ his​​ films are​​ for hipsters who pretend to be intellectuals because they​​ can​​ understand​​ irony,​​ and​​ Adaptation​​ is​​ the​​ epitome of​​ it.​​ Strip away all the ‘irony’​​ and​​ this​​ movie​​ has​​ nothing. Just wasted time.​​ Inserting yourself in​​ your own story is​​ such a​​ creative cop-out.

But​​ isn’t that​​ pretty much​​ what Proust does​​ in​​ In Search of Lost Time?” Catherine said.​​ And that’s your favorite​​ novel.

“He didn’t insert himself​​ literally​​ in the story. And​​ In Search of Lost Time​​ is​​ actually a​​ story—one of the​​ all-time​​ greatest, not Proust’s story of the story.​​ Unless you’re Vonnegut,​​ who Kaufman is nothing but​​ a poor man’s version of, writers​​ shouldn’t be characters in their own story,​​ and​​ a story shouldn’t be a story of​​ a​​ story.

I beg to differ,” Catherine said, then paused as if trying to restrain herself, but couldn’t. “Also,​​ if Proust is one of the all-time greatest storytellers,​​ I don’t believe he should need​​ over a million words to tell a story. But since I’ve​​ honestly​​ never been able to​​ make it through even​​ Swann’s Way,​​ I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt. However,​​ no matter how beautiful the music,​​ you can’t deny Proust​​ is​​ also one of the​​ all-time​​ greatest windbags.”

Walter felt Amber’s body​​ tense​​ and heard her throat swallow.

“But regardless of story,”​​ Catherine​​ continued, “you still have to admire the cleverness of the film.”

“He resorted to​​ using​​ every​​ cliché he​​ believed​​ against,” Amber said. “How is that​​ clever?”

“Because​​ beliefs​​ can​​ turn​​ against​​ the principles​​ they​​ profess to​​ hold​​ sacred​​ when​​ taken​​ too​​ literally.​​ That’s the message I took away from the film, not so much irony.”​​ ​​ 

I​​ think​​ that’s your Buddhist leanings​​ authoring that message...” Amber nodded to​​ her mother’s​​ bronze Buddha​​ sitting on​​ the​​ Cocobolo coffee table​​ in front of her,​​ “...not Charlie Kaufman.

“Perhaps,” Catherine said,​​ “but​​ that’s​​ the​​ beautiful thing about art:​​ interpretation, not meaning.​​ Everyone has the right to be right because they are right. So, can we just leave it at that?”​​ 

Yes, but as a​​ writer,” Amber continued the argument,​​ I can tell you Kaufman just took the lazy, solipsistic​​ approach​​ every amateur writer eventually takes,​​ and irony doesn’t excuse it.​​ Creativity is​​ supposed to be​​ inspired by life, not copied from it.”

“Yes...” Catherine again tried to restrain herself, but​​ again​​ couldn’t.​​ “But​​ creativity​​ sometimes​​ can’t compete with​​ the​​ master,​​ and​​ isn’t​​ life​​ the master of all creativity?​​ Is it not​​ drawn​​ from​​ the​​ setbacks​​ and​​ successes​​ of life? Creativity​​ always​​ feels copied​​ to me,​​ even​​ prophetic​​ at times. However, that usually just means I’m on the right path.”

“Because​​ in science​​ that’s how​​ creativity works:​​ by Mother Nature’s rules!” Amber nearly shouted. “But​​ in art there are no​​ underlying rules or correct paths.”

Catherine sighed and chomped her lower lip, but​​ a muffled​​ “So why are you​​ trying to define​​ them​​ then?”​​ still crawled out of her mouth.​​ 

Belly laughter blew against Amber’s back.​​ She jabbed her arm back at​​ it.​​ “Ow,”​​ Walter​​ said.

“Why do you always take her side?”​​ Amber​​ said​​ to him.

“I’m not.​​ She just righteously checkmated you. You’re not going to beat​​ your mother​​ in an argument. Logic​​ is​​ her​​ day​​ job.”

Amber glowered​​ back​​ at him.​​ “Oh right,” she said sitting up,​​ “what was I thinking? Logic trumps anyone else​​ from expressing​​ an opinion.”

“I​​ didn’t mean it like that,”​​ he​​ said sitting up and putting an arm around her. She pushed it off.

“Yes you did,” she said.​​ “But both​​ of​​ you have never tried writing a novel,​​ have you? What help is logic​​ when there’s nothing to checkmate?”

Amber,​​ I’m sorry,”​​ Catherine​​ said. “I didn’t mean to belittle you. I was just also trying to express an opinion.​​ And you’re absolutely right.​​ I don’t have the same type of creativity you have.​​ Creating​​ a story long enough to fill a novel seems impossibly complex​​ to me, let alone making​​ it​​ something people​​ would​​ want to read. But youre​​ truly​​ gifted​​ at​​ it. You know it. I know it. All your​​ teachers and​​ professors knew it.”​​ Catherine​​ then​​ tried to stop herself​​ again, but​​ again couldn’t. “That’s​​ why... That’s why​​ I wish you’d​​ finish​​ your​​ novel​​ so the world can finally know it.

Amber exhaled and rolled her eyes. “Here we go again,” she said. “Can we go one day without you lecturing me about my unfinished novel Mother?”

“Then can I go one day without you​​ complaining about it?​​ Talking about a novel isn’t​​ writing it. Writing it is, and that’s the only way you’ll ever finish it—I’m sorry, I need to stop.” Catherine stood from her​​ armchair and began walking out of the room.

“No, I’m sorry Mom,” Amber said walking to her, then hugged her. “I’m sorry, you’re right.”

“No,​​ I’m not,” Catherine said shaking her head. “This isn’t an easy time for you and I need to be more sensitive of that. It’s just difficult when you haven’t lived her since high school,​​ and sometimes you can be so stubborn for no good reason.”

Walter cleared his throat. “Kind of like her mother?” he​​ said​​ lightheartedly.​​ 

Catherine smiled at him. “Yes,” she said, “exactly like her mother.”​​ They all laughed, then sat back down.

“So Walter,”​​ Catherine​​ said​​ again in her armchair. “Have you made your​​ choice on a label?”

“I have,”​​ he​​ said, “but​​ I can’t tell anyone yet. Also​​ getting​​ my bandmates​​ onboard​​ has​​ proved​​ more difficult than I​​ assumed.​​ Really,​​ it’s just one​​ person, but without his approval, it’s hard to get the others’.​​ Ultimately, it’s​​ still my​​ choice,​​ but​​ I​​ would​​ like their​​ support.​​ I’m hoping the showcase will​​ make things​​ clear​​ once they actually meet the reps in-person.”

“What’s the hang-up?”​​ Catherine asked.

Hang-ups. But I don’t want to talk about​​ it.​​ I’ve​​ been ‘talking’​​ about​​ it​​ all week.​​ Another​​ beer​​ anyone?”​​ he​​ asked​​ standing up.

“I’ll have another if you are,”​​ Catherine​​ said. “But let me get​​ them,” she said standing. “You guys stay comfy on the couch. You want another glass of wine Amber?”

“No thanks,” she said. “Remember,​​ I have to work at a decent hour tomorrow​​ now​​ that​​ movie night​​ is​​ on​​ Saturday.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Catherine said. “How much longer are you​​ at​​ the airport​​ again?”

“Indefinitely for the moment.​​ I should’ve been done a month ago, but​​ with​​ so many new hires at the local branches they’re keeping people in the​​ ETP​​ longer than ever​​ before​​ because​​ they don’t have anywhere else to put them.”

Amber stood​​ and​​ stretched​​ her arms.​​ But​​ I’m​​ exhausted​​ anyway,” she said. “I’m also​​ in the middle of a good​​ book​​ I’d like to​​ get back to before​​ I get too sleepy. I need​​ to​​ cleanse my memory of that movie.

“Okay,” Walter said kissing​​ her. “I’ll be​​ joining you soon.”

Okay, if I’m asleep, love you​​ and goodnight.​​ And really just one​​ more​​ drink​​ Mother.​​ I don’t need him​​ stumbling in​​ at​​ 3:00 a.m. and​​ snoring all night​​ like last​​ week.

“No worries,”​​ Catherine​​ said. “I learned my lesson. That hangover​​ last week​​ was​​ the worst​​ I’ve​​ had in some years.”

“Me too,” Walter said.​​ “I​​ think we just got carried away because it was the first movie night we didn’t have to work the next day.​​ I​​ promise​​ though, just​​ one​​ more​​ beer. And maybe a little​​ more​​ weed​​ too.”

“Yes,​​ I’ll have a little more of that myself,” Amber said​​ picking​​ up the pipe on the coffee table,​​ the bowl​​ still​​ loaded with mostly green herbs.​​ She lit it​​ and inhaled,​​ then​​ unloaded the hit into Walter’s mouth, something that was becoming an affectionate ritual between them since he found it sexy. Greg forbade her from even smoking.

“Love you,”​​ Walter​​ said after.

“Love you,”​​ she​​ echoed​​ and​​ kissed him again. Amber​​ then​​ kissed​​ her mother, then went upstairs​​ to​​ her​​ bedroom.

 

“I didn’t want to say it in front of Amber…” Walter said to​​ Catherine​​ as they sipped on their beers while listening to Chopin—the joys of which​​ she​​ had​​ just​​ introduced​​ him​​ to​​ the week before, “...but the​​ hangover​​ last week​​ was​​ so​​ worth it. I​​ haven’t​​ had a volley like that since college, or maybe even ever.​​ And it​​ takes a lot to blow my mind.”

A grin stretched across​​ Catherine’s face.​​ “Hey, you blew my mind​​ a​​ few​​ times too,” she said. “And I’m just as hard​​ to impress, if not harder.​​ I​​ haven’t​​ debated​​ someone like that since probably college myself.​​ But...” she said putting her hand on his leg as they sat side by side on the couch,​​ “let’s keep track of the drinking and time tonight. It doesn’t look good when​​ Mom​​ gets​​ the​​ boyfriend shitfaced drunk​​ after being​​ left​​ alone with him​​ for the first time. I was so embarrassed. Amber hardly spoke to me when she​​ came home​​ from work​​ the next day. She didn’t say anything​​ about it, but I could tell it bothered her.”

“Yeah,” Walter said​​ putting his hand on hers,​​ “she gave me an​​ angry​​ earful of silence also. I​​ finally​​ just apologized, but she acted like it wasn’t a​​ big deal,​​ even though​​ I could tell it was. Sometimes I just wish she’d say what was on her mind instead of—”​​ He​​ bit his lip. “Let’s​​ not talk about it.”

“Yes.​​ Limiting our​​ time​​ tonight to just one beer is going to be difficult enough,”​​ Catherine​​ said shaking her​​ already​​ halfway empty​​ can.

“Maybe​​ we should extend it to​​ two beers then?”​​ Walter​​ asked.

They then​​ looked down at their hands​​ as if​​ noticing they were squeezed together​​ for the first time. They​​ pulled them away and​​ buried them into​​ their laps, then​​ readjusted themselves​​ on the couch​​ to add a few inches between them.​​ 

“One beer,” Catherine said.

“One beer,” Walter​​ agreed.​​ “Anyway,” he said, “last week, especially toward the end, left​​ me​​ with​​ so many questions and thoughts, thoughts I never thought I’d be having​​ about religion​​ . . . What was​​ that Hindu concept again?​​ Broman?”

Brahman,​​ Catherine​​ corrected.

Thats it.​​ Refresh​​ my memory​​ on it​​ again?​​ When I said​​ toward​​ the​​ end, I mean the end of my memory.

She​​ laughed.​​ “Brahman​​ is the source of all things in the universe including reality and existence.​​ According to belief,​​ everything comes from​​ Brahman and everything returns to Brahman. Brahman is uncreated, external, infinite,​​ and all-embracing.”

Wow, it​​ really is​​ just​​ the​​ first and second laws of thermodynamics,” Walter said.​​ “But instead of energy, it’s​​ Braham.​​ The​​ world’s oldest religion​​ had a​​ grasp​​ on them​​ thousands of years before​​ science​​ did.

“Hindus​​ also invented the number zero,” Catherine​​ said, “so you could​​ also​​ argue​​ they​​ had​​ a​​ handle on the third​​ law​​ before anyone else​​ too.​​ But it’s not surprising​​ in my opinion. Religion and science​​ are​​ just​​ offspring of philosophy,​​ and at one time,​​ they​​ all​​ coexisted​​ in​​ ‘relative’​​ peace until salvation came​​ into the game.​​ But even​​ then,​​ cooperation between​​ Christians​​ and​​ Muslims, especially when it came to science,​​ was​​ common​​ in the beginning. Much of​​ the​​ principles and​​ techniques​​ we​​ still​​ use​​ in science and medicine​​ today​​ are a result of that​​ cooperation.​​ Science owes a great debt to​​ religion, or in a wider context, God.”

“But​​ is that​​ reason​​ enough​​ to believe in​​ him?”​​ Walter asked.​​ 

“Or her. Or it. I can’t imagine God having a​​ defined​​ sex just because the​​ culture​​ I​​ grew up​​ in​​ told me​​ so—although​​ ‘God’​​ definitely has​​ all​​ the hallmarks​​ of a man. But truthfully,​​ I don’t know.​​ I​​ just​​ find a deep sanctity​​ in the rich diversity of the​​ world’s creators as much as I do in the scientific observations of it,​​ because​​ no one captures humans quite like their gods.​​ But​​ like with Brahman, I​​ also​​ think​​ some​​ clues​​ to answers science seeks can be​​ found​​ in religion if science is openminded enough to look.​​ For instance,​​ I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if dark energy​​ turned​​ out​​ to be past lives​​ from​​ reincarnation.”

Walter scoffed.​​ “How so?”​​ he asked.

“Because quantum mechanics​​ proves​​ it’s possible to have an infinite number of paths exist within one,”​​ Catherine​​ answered,​​ then finished her beer. “Unfortunately, however,​​ I’ve reached my​​ time​​ limit​​ for tonight, so we’ll​​ have to​​ pick up on this​​ next week.”

“But it feels like we only got started,”​​ he​​ griped, then reluctantly drank the rest of his beer.

“Don’t worry,”​​ she​​ said picking up their​​ empty cans​​ and taking them into​​ the​​ kitchen. “We have plenty more nights​​ ahead,”​​ she​​ said out of sight,​​ then returned​​ to the couch.​​ But tonight,” she said softly. “We must​​ make up for​​ last week.”​​ Catherine’s​​ eyes moved upstairs to Amber’s bedroom.

“You’re right,”​​ Walter​​ said, his eyes following. “Otherwise we may never get to do this again.”

“Exactly,” Catherine said,​​ then bent forward and kissed​​ Walter​​ on the​​ crown of his​​ head​​ as if he were her son. “Goodnight Walter.”

“Goodnight Catherine,” he said.

After turning out the lights,​​ they​​ went​​ upstairs​​ together,​​ then​​ separated at the top to​​ go to their​​ separate​​ rooms​​ at separate ends​​ of the​​ hallway.​​ Before opening their respective doors, their eyes​​ turned to each other.​​ 

“Goodnight​​ Catherine,” Walter said​​ again. “And​​ don’t​​ know if it’s​​ too soon to​​ say it, but​​ love you.”

She smiled​​ at him. “You should never feel ashamed​​ of​​ love,” she said.​​ “Goodnight​​ Walter,​​ and love you too.”

They both then​​ opened their doors and​​ separated. ​​ 

 

Amber​​ stirred​​ when​​ Walter’s​​ body rumpled the mattress.​​ She​​ awoke​​ in a rather horny mood as one​​ sometimes​​ does​​ in the middle of the night,​​ so they​​ did the​​ deed and before she went back to sleep she said,​​ “I love you.”

“I love you too,”​​ Walter​​ said, and for the first time it felt​​ in no​​ parts foma.​​ Maybe he really was beginning to love her.​​ 

They kissed, then she​​ cradled​​ her​​ lovely​​ tushy​​ onto his hips​​ and was quickly snoring, but​​ it was adorable,​​ cooing baby​​ type of​​ snoring.​​ She then farted on him, but​​ that​​ too was an adorable, baby type of fart.​​ So this​​ was love, Walter thought,​​ for making​​ snoring​​ and​​ farts​​ adorable and baby-like.​​ Walter loved Amber’s snoring and farting.

 

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