Post narrative bliss. I think that’s what I’ll call it. That almost orgasmic experience I have at the end of a good story. You know it’s coming. Visually, you can see you’re near the end of the story. Narratively, if you’re reading a good author, you get that feel, too. The story is winding up. These characters are about to say good-bye to you. The denouement is always bittersweet to me. If the story was good enough, I don’t want to say good-bye. I want the ending, the wrap-up, that feeling of completion – but I don’t want these new friends to leave my life. I’ve heard of some people who never read the last page so they can avoid this whole mess. That’s silly to me. A good story is like a snow globe you can enter and play in. It’s always there, always the same, and always snowing. That perfect capsule of sweet imagination isn’t ruined by tasting the last drop. Just the opposite; the last words of a tale are often the ones that haunt you, that make you pick it up and read it again. I won’t cheat myself of that thrill.
So there I was, about two in the afternoon, totally in post narrative bliss. My breathing was a little ragged, I sighed like a lovesick Juliette, and my first thought was ‘I’ll never find another story like that’. Nothing could compare. But you know…I was very happy just to be there. To feel that much after reading a story. And to get it in Dutch, my new language, was a double hit. I’ve felt so dumb, trying to learn this language. But Dahl was like a skilled lover. He made me feel smart for understanding so much. He gave his typical Dahl style – that kind of adults-not-allowed childhood funny that makes the reader feel like they’re the only one in the world who knows the author’s secrets. I felt special for understanding his jokes. I felt uplifted, honored that someone would share such a tale with me. And I felt loved. The warmth of the description, the innocence portrayed in the characters…it was narrative love, and I held my arms open and sucked it all in. My soul feels fed. It’s not reaching for, wanting. It’s just dozily happy, with that crazy smile on its face.
Satisfied. I be satisfied. Thank you, Roald Dahl. And thank you, translator of Roald Dahl. You did a great job.
More childlike stuff: my brother has concocted what has to be the BEST treat I’ve ever tasted. He starts with his secret recipe for French toast, which, btw, you can’t call ‘French toast’ over here because it’s not French nor toast and they don’t know what you’re on about. That alone, topped with maple syrup, is outstanding. But here’s the twist: before the syrup goes on, he sprinkles the top of the bread with hagelslag. What’s hagelslag? American term: sprinkles, the kind you’d put on top of ice cream. Here, they put it on their bread for breakfast (an odd habit I still can’t quite wrap my head around). The heat from the French toast melts the hagelslag and forms a thin layer of melted, rich chocolate. Out. of. this. world. There is no hope of escape; when he makes it, the scent fills our flat and I dare anyone to just sit there, smell all that, and then say ‘no thanks’ to that tasty goodness. I’ve gotta ask him to stop making it so often.
Lol! On the other hand, I’ve full plans to go ahead and make my own goodies to pile the inches on around my hips and waist. LLR nut that I am, I dubbed the recipe ‘lembas’ after the elven bread Frodo and the team eat on their way to Mordor. It’s subtly addictive. Lightly sweet – so lightly sweet you barely feel like you’ve had a treat. And there’s the catch. You can eat them and eat them and eat them all day long (I’ve seen it). There’s a couple of tricky ingredients you need for real lembas, and I can get them here. The only thing that’s held me back is the time involved. It’s a double batter recipe that then gets twisted together in a marbled effect. Very hand intensive. I haven’t felt up to it, but after taking care of a part of me I didn’t know was starving I finally feel I have the oomph to do it.
My bro ran a printed copy of the trilogy for me. He put it down on the table with a ‘here’s your book’. I glanced at it and thought ‘that’s just a story’. Our two perspectives say a lot about our writing skills and style: he is at the beginning, seeing a pile of paper and thinking ‘that’s a lot of writing!’, and I am further on, knowing that the words never stop flowing and that tiny pile is just a fraction of what I’ve committed to permanent form as ‘the written word’. I have the weekend to page through it and allow myself to feel pride. Not out in orbit this is the best thing ever, but calm pride. I’ve worked on this for a year now, thinking and honing and outlining and writing. While not the longest piece I’ve written, it is, perhaps, the most complete. The tightest and fullest without being so verbose that I knock the audience out from sheer pontification. And it’s not static; I’m particularly proud of that. Not a bunch of people on the stage just talking, oh, no!
Oh, I really hope they like it.
…And what will it feel like, I wonder, to see my story produced and acted out on stage? I get that post narrative bliss after writing. Will this take that experience to a new level?
I can see it now.
A darkened theatre. The last curtain down. The audience applauds. And from the back you can hear me, moaning like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’.
Post narrative bliss.