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Solid Favorites from Norwegian Wood

Midori: “It’s true, I’ve got a cold streak. I recognize that. But if they — my father and mother — had loved me a little more, I would have been able to feel more — to feel real sadness, for example.”

Toru: “Do you think you weren’t loved enough?”

Midori: “Somewhere between ‘not enough’ and ‘not at all’. I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it — to be fed so much love I couldn’t take it anymore. Just once. But they never gave that to me. Never, not once.”

Midori: I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.

Toru: Waiting for the perfect love?

Midori: No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, I say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.

Toru: I’m not sure that has anything to do with love.

Midori: It does. You just don’t know it. There are times in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.

Midori: For a certain kind of person, love begins from something tiny or silly. From something like that or it doesn’t begin at all.

Toru: I’ve never met a girl who thinks like you.

Midori: That’s the kind of death that frightens me. The shadow of death slowly, slowly eats away at the region of life, and before you know it everything’s dark and you can’t see, and the people around you think of you as more dead than alive. I hate that. I couldn’t stand it.

Naoko: We are not here to correct the deformation but to accustom ourselves to it: That one of our problems was our inability tp recognize and accept our own deformities. Just as each person has certain idiosyncrasies in the way he or she walks, people have idiosyncrasies in the way they think and feel and see things, and though you might want to correct them, it doesn’t happen overnight, and if you try to force the issue in one case, something else might go funny.”

Toru: What happens when people open their hearts?

Reiko: They get better.

Naoko: I was wet from the minute you walked into my apartment the night of my twentieth birthday. I wanted you to hold me. I wanted you to take my clothes off and touch me all over and to get inside me. I had never felt like that before. Why is that? Why do things happen that way? I mean, I really loved him.

Toru: And not me. You want to know why you felt that way about me even though you didn’t love me.

Reiko: Every once in a while she’ll get worked up and cry like that. But that’s ok. She’s letting her feelings out. The scary thing is not being able to do that. Then your feelings build up and harden and die inside. That’s when you’re in big trouble

Reiko: All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t use yourself up in some unnatural form. Do you see what I’m getting at? It would be such a waste. The years nineteen and twenty are a crucial stage in the maturation of character, and if you allow yourself to become warped when you’re that age, it will cause you pain when you’re older. It’s true. So think about it carefully. If you want to take care of Naoko, take care of yourself, too.

Reiko: That’s the most important thing for a sickness like ours: A sense of trust. If I put myself in this person’s hands, I’ll be okay.

Naoko: So if Kizuki had lived, I’m sure we would have been together, loving each other, and gradually growing unhappy.

Toru: Unhappy? Why’s that?

Naoko: Because we would have to pay back the world what we owed it. The pain of growing up. We didn’t pay when we should have, so now the bills are due.

Our faces when no more than ten inches apart, but she was light-years away from me.

Toru: So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?

Naoko: You’re wasting your life being involved with me.

Toru: I’m not wasting anything.

Naoko: But I might never recover. Will you wait for me forever? Can you wait ten years, twenty years?

Toru: You’re letting yourself be scared by too many things. The dark, bad dreams, the power of the dead. You have to forget them. I’m sure you’ll get well if you do.

Naoko: If I can.

Toru: I have always loved Naoko, and I still love her. But there is a decisive finality to what exists between Midori and me. It has an irresistible power that is bound to sweep me into the future. What I feel for Naoko is a tremendously quiet and gentle and transparent love, but what I feel for Midori is a wholly different emotion. It stands and walks on its own, living and breathing and throbbing and shaking me to the roots of my being.

The memories would slam against me like the waves of an incoming tide, sweeping my body along to some strange new place — a place where I lived with the dead.

Death in that place was not a decisive element that brought life to an end. There, death was but one of many elements comprising life. There Naoko lived with death inside her. And to me she said, “Don’t worry, it’s only death. Don’t let it bother you.”

Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life.

By living our lives, we nurture death.

Once upon a time, you dragged a part of me into the world of the dead, and now Naoko has dragged another part of me into that world. Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.

Toru: I have to talk to you. I have a million things to talk to you about. A million things we have to talk about. All I want in the world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.

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