I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get--and never would get.
Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.
And it seemed to me that Dante's face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness. Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?.
I renamed myself Ari. If I switched the letter, my name was Air. I thought it might be a great thing to be the air. I could be something and nothing at the same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me.
Sometimes, you do things and you do them not because you're thinking but because you're feeling. Because you're feeling too much. And you can't always control the things you do when you're feeling too much.
Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?.
I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.
I had a rule that it was better to be bored by yourself than to be bored with someone else. I pretty much lived by that rule. Maybe that's why I didn't have any friends.
This is my problem. I want other people to tell me how they feel. But I'm not so sure I want to return the favor.
Sometimes, all you have to do is tell people the truth. They won't believe you. After that, they'll leave you alone.
I love swimming" "I know," I said. "I love swimming," he said again. He was quiet for a little while. And then he said, "I love swimming—and you." I didn't say anything. "Swimming and you, Ari. Those are the things I love the most.
Senior year. And then life. Maybe that's the way it worked. High school was just a prologue to the real novel. Everybody got to write you -- but when you graduated, you got to write yourself. At graduation you got to collect your teacher's pens and your parents' pens and you got your own pen. And you could do all the writing. Yeah. Wouldn't that be sweet?.
Summer was here again. Summer, summer, summer. I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That's why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.
All this time. This was what was wrong with me. All this time I had been trying to figure out the secrets of the universe, the secrets of my own body, of my own heart. All of the answers had always been so close and yet I'd always fought them without even knowing it. From the minute I'd met Dante, I had fallen in love with him. I just didn't let myself know it, think it, feel it. My father was right. And it was true what my mother said. We all fight our own private wars.
Try it again," I said. "Kiss me." "No," he said. "Kiss me." "No," And then he smiled. "You kiss me." I placed my hand on the back of his neck. I pulled him toward me. And kissed him. I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And I kissed him. And he kept kissing me back.
I didn't understand how you could live in a mean world and not have any of that meanness rub off on you. How could a guy live without meanness?.
I have this idea that the reason we have dreams is that we're thinking about things that we don't know we're thinking about-and those things, well, they sneak out of us in our dreams. Maybe we're like tires with too much air in them. The air has to leak out. That's what dreams are.
You should just sit them down and make them tell you. Make them be adults." "You can't make anyone be an adult. Especially an adult.
I didn't know what to do with that piece of information. So I just kept it inside. That's what I did with everything. Kept it inside.
And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules.
What do you love, Ari? What do you really love?" "I love the desert. God, I love the desert." "It's so lonely." "Is it?" Dante didn't understand. I was unknowable.
One summer night I fell asleep hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same.
I was in love with the innocence of dogs, the purity of their affection. They didn't know enough to hide their feelings. They existed. A dog was a dog. There was such a simple elegance about being a dog that I envied.
I didn't care because what mattered is that Dante's voice felt real. And I felt real. Until Dante, being with other people was the hardest thing in the world for me. But Dante made talking and living and feeling seem like all those things were perfectly natural. Not in my world, they weren't.
I came to understand that my father was a careful man. To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.
Those words tasted bitter. But the worst part was that those words were living inside me. And they were leaking out of me. Words were not things you could control. Not always.
I’m not into all this academic stuff. Too much analysis. What ever happened to reading a book because you liked it?.
Water was something he loved, something he respected. He understood its beauty and its dangers. He talked about swimming as if it were a way of life.
In order to be wildly popular you had to make people believe that you were fun and interesting I just wasn't that much of a con artist.
Why did I have to be a good boy just because I had a bad-boy brother? I hated the way my mom and dad did family math.
The funny thing is, I sometimes think my mother loves my father more than he loves her. Does that make sense?" "Yeah, I guess so. Maybe. Is love a contest?" "What does that mean?" "Maybe everyone loves differently. Maybe that's all that matters.
For a few minutes I wished that Dante and I lived in the universe of boys instead of the universe of almost-men.
I guess I did miss Dante-even though I tried hard to not think about him. The problem with trying hard not to think about something was that you thought about it even more.
It was like she understood something about me that she'd never quite understood before. I always felt that when she looked at me, she was trying to find me, trying to find out who I was. But it seemed at that moment that she saw me, that she knew me. But that confused me.
Bullshit, Ari. You have the harder rule to follow? Buffalo shit. Coyote shit. All you have to do is be loyal to the most brilliant guy you've ever met—which is like walking barefoot through the park. I, on the other hand, have to refrain from kissing the greatest guy in the universe—which is like walking barefoot on hot coals.
Yeah, I had all kinds of tragic reasons for feeling sorry for myself. Being fifteen didn't help. Sometimes I thought that being fifteen was the worst tragedy of all.
The worst part about going crazy is that when you're not crazy anymore, you just don't know what to think of yourself.