Monday, August 16, 2004

When do we reach the Angle of Repose?

I feel obligated to write something.

I'm reading this book, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. (Being out of school allows me to do things like this.) I am constantly moved to tears as I experience Susan Burling Ward's constant transitioning to lonely and rugged places as she follows her husband to each new job. I believe I am moved more by a feeling of understanding than by literary charm, though that is not to be ignored. I know how Susan feels. I too am leaving my own Milton in exchange for an uncertain life in a far away place. I, at least, shall have my travel fare. She has only her Oliver to keep her company, to keep her from boredom and loneliness; I will have only my Scott. Oliver leaves during the day to work and provide for his family, leaving the new Mrs. Ward at home, waiting with homesickness for her dear husband to return. She fills these hours idly, writing letters home and worrying about her future. Will she ever make real friends with whom she can relate? What if something happens to Oliver? What would she do without him?

As I silently and helplessly move Susan along through the years, I fear and mourn with her. Will I make friends in Scotland? What will I do if I lose Scott? How will I cope with the loss of family and friends?

Yet I am more encouraged than Susan was able to be. She often felt quite uncertain about her man, having barely known him when they wed and he being very unlike the literary and cultured socialites in her circles. I, however, do not fear what she fears (and what she need not fear.) Scott, like Oliver, loves me more than I deserve. He overlooks (perhaps does not even see) my unworthiness and is resolved to care for me better than I care for myself. Susan was surprised by the care and sensitivity in which Oliver prepared their first house before she arrived. She expected a shack; he'd prepared for her a breath-taking home. I trust that my Scott is just as eager to provide for me the same kind of life Oliver resolved to give his beloved, and with the same kind of love and adoration.

I am also learning with Susan. (*SPOILERS for those who have not read as far or who may read in the future.) After Oliver quits his job at the mines and begins searching for new work, he passes his time experimenting with cement. Susan is confident of her husband's ability and is sure he will create a working cement. In an effort to encourage him and motivate him, she insists that he go into the cement business and build a plant. He is a little reluctant, but she (and I) attribute this to his fear of failure. She insists that he can do it, and that she would even be willing to live out West for much longer if he were able to start this business. He ends up agreeing and even getting excited about this prospect. He does indeed invent cement but cannot get the financial backing to start a plant. Susan is instructed by an older woman to leave this notion of hers behind and allow her husband to go back to what he really loves. She tells Susan that he only followed this dream because she wanted him to, but that a man will never be happy if his work cannot reflect his true heart and talents. Both Susan and I took this advice with stony anger. She wasn't pressuring him into this, was she? He was just as excited as she. This was their dream, not just her dream! Yet the woman was right. And we were wrong. (*END SPOILERS.)

Will I do these things to Scott? Is this one of those forms of miscommunication that I'm always being warned about? How will I know when I'm making a similar mistake? Have I already made similar mistakes?......

....With all that said, I'm unable to end this post effectively. Where was I going with this anyway? I love this book. I love Scott. I can't wait to be married. I am very much in love.

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