January 25, 2004

Two or three things I remember about Madeleine

I remember falling out with her. Some really dreadful fallings-out, dating back to before I even felt we were close. (Perhaps that was part of getting close.) But it was always there, the threat of a big row - that or the Big Silence (which was worse, of course). The last time she wrote to me before she got ill, it was to tweak me about not being as much of a coffee buff as she was (or to encourage me to follow her down that road, perhaps). Either way, it irritated the hell out of me, but I let it drop without replying. Didn't want to go through /all that/ again. Wish I had.

I remember her weird, demonstratively clumpy wordplay - 'brane', 'aminal' - and I remember her quite casually describing herself as dyslexic. She didn't go in for passive-aggressive poor-me-isms - if she said 'poor me', you knew about it - so I can only assume that she meant what she said. That someone who was so *fluent*, in so many senses - someone steeped in Joyce, for one thing - should have had that kind of difficult relationship with language... I won't say I can't believe it (in the recipe I posted earlier tonight, there's a reference to 'lettus') but it does make me respect her, even more than before.

I remember helping her with her dissertation. That was an extraordinary experience - I found myself thinking (and feeling) quite intensely about something I'd neither known nor cared about before. Her enthusiasm - her passion - for the subject enabled me to engage with it too. I think she herself worked like that a lot of the time - she once told me she wasn't terribly interested in /things/, but she was interested in people and got passionate about the things that they were passionate about. It must have been a tremendously rich way to live, but a lonely one sometimes.

I remember, finally, that she often felt unloved - I think that feeling was always there for her, lurking under the bed ready to reach out and trip her up. In particular, she seemed to be convinced she was physically unattractive; I got the impression that her mother had told her so, repeatedly and from an early age. I hope that we managed to shake these feelings - to persuade her that some of the love she gave was returned, and that the person who gave it was very, very valuable. (And attractive with it.)
- PhilE

Posted by maddyfriends at January 25, 2004 06:26 PM