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Home: The Toast

Previously in this series.

Upon departing for a seaside resort with your grandmother and cook, you have become almost completely indifferent to your first love, who is already just as, if not more, indifferent to you.

At a crossroads in front of three trees you may or may not have seen before, a carriage whisks you far away from what you believe is the only truth, from what would have made you truly happy. In this way, the carriage resembles your life.

It takes a fusty ex-ambassador to convince your father to let you attend a performance of Phèdre despite your doctor’s orders to stay home. Though critically acclaimed, the performance leaves you deeply disappointed.

Your bohemian credibility can be accurately measured by the degree to which Madame Verdurin simpers upon welcoming you into her salon.

You may or may not be an invert, but you derive an intense, obscure pleasure from accidentally witnessing inverts engaging in their various accursed acts of love.

You also enjoy witnessing a group of four teenage girls riding bicycles on the beach, because they are not only girls, but also the mountainous, blue undulations of the sea. You love them all, and therefore you love none of them in particular, until you grow to love one of them the most. You later discover that she is an invert.

You sometimes see things doubled in time as one sometimes sees things doubled in space.

A dandy lends you a book by your favorite author one night, then the next morning calls your grandmother a scoundrel and demands that you return it. After you have the lift operator deliver the book to him, he sends it back to you bound in Morocco leather with a forget-me-not branch engraved on the front cover.

Your oldest friend and deepest rival has knocked over yet another water carafe at yet another high-society gathering.

When the feeling you have for someone you love is no longer the same mysterious disturbance you feel upon hearing a particular five-note phrase from a particular violin sonata, you probably no longer love that person.

Your future is just a shadow of your past projected in front of you.

Françoise is scandalized upon seeing you wrapped up in an enormous Highland plaid with bright tartan stripes so soon after your aunt’s death.

You firmly believe that there is no use going to the Champs-Élysées in the rain.

You donate some furniture you inherited from your aunt to a brothel owner and then immediately regret your decision once you see it in the brothel. You then sell some of your aunt’s other furniture and her silverware set so you can buy more orchids for a woman you greatly admire. You don’t regret this decision until many years later.

Simply pronouncing the names of certain places you’ve never visited is infinitely more pleasurable than actually visiting them.

If you had decided not to have any tea that one time, or if you had decided to have tea but not a madeleine, or if you had drunk the tea without first soaking the madeleine in it, or if your mother had decided not to buy any madeleines, or if she had chosen canelés instead of madeleines, you would likely be telling a completely different story.

When you start to cry while saying goodbye to your mother at the train station, she attempts to console you with a terse quotation from the letters of Madame de Sévigné. Though the despair of being separated from your mother does not decrease during the voyage, your admiration of Madame de Sévigné only increases.

An artist you believe to be a god-like genius and a painter you believe to be a talentless boor turn out to be the same person.

Even the servants are having heated debates about the Dreyfus Affair.

When you finally kiss the cheek of someone you’ve been dreaming of kissing for a long time, her face seems to shatter in hundreds of pieces and you decide that human beings probably just aren’t made for kissing or being kissed.

Nothing tastes as good as remembering what it tastes like feels.

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Daniel Lupo is a writer, translator, and occasional filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter @daniellupo.

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