Are We There Yet?

A city presents many different faces, and it is up to the traveller to assemble the proper composite.

All this history...,' Danny says, then trails off. Lost in it. Feeling it connect. Realizing the weight of the world comes largely from its past.

Although it is such a singular word, there are many variations of alone. There is the alone of an empty beach at twilight. There is the alone of an empty hotel room. There is the alone of being caught in a throng of people. There is the alone of missing a particular person. And there is the alone of being with a particular person and realizing you are still alone.

Being a comfort is itself comforting. Having someone find a place on your shoulder and be able to rest.

Brothers are not like sisters.

Brothers are not like sisters […] They don’t call each other every week. They don’t have secret worlds to share. Can you think of two brothers who are really, inseparably close? No, for brothers it’s a different set of rules. Like it or not, we’re held to the bare minimum. Will you be there for him if he needs you? Of course. Should you love him without question? Absolutely. But those are the easy things. Do you make him a large part of your life, an equal to a wife or a best friend? At the beginning, when you’re kids, the answer is often yes. But when you get to high school, or older? Do you tell him everything? Do you let him know who you really are? The answer is usually no. Because all these other things get in the way. Girlfriends. Rebellion. Work.

Danny is amazed that he feels so comfortable. He is amazed that while there are some people you can see every day and not say a word to, there are other people whom you can see once a year-or once a decade, or once a life-and say anything.

Don't go for normal," Ari suggests. "Go for happy. Go for what you want it to be instead of settling for what it is.

Elijah, as always, is being unusually kind. While he himself is not lonely, he doesn’t mind talking to lonely people. He is the Mother Teresa of banter.

Elijah is overwhelmed by the sheer fact of all the people who have walked over this very spot. As he watches Nikes and loafers glide past, he tries to fathom the feet of centuries ago. A person could stay in this same place his whole life and meet millions of people from all over the world. But instead, everyone moves on, and meets no one.

He doesn’t want to step out of the present, this present. Because once he does, there will be college applications and college acceptances (just one will do) and the last of everything (last class, last party, last night, last day, last goodbye), and then the world will change forever and he will go to college and eventually become an adult. That is not what he wants. He does not want those complications, that change. Not now.

He drinks, even though drinking always makes him remember rather than forget.

He knows he is missing something. He is always missing something. He can never get past the first stop of finding it, which is knowing what it is.

He never wears a watch (his own rebellion against time, against watching).

Here's what I think. We all want someone to build a fort with. We want somebody to swap crayons with and play hide-and-seek with and live out imaginary stories with. We start out getting that from our family. Then we get it from our friends. And then, for whatever reasons, we get it in our heads that we need to get that feeling- that intimacy- from a single someone else. We call if growing up. But really, when you take sex out of it, what we want is a companion. And we make that so damn hard to find.

How did my world get so small?

If you wanted to reassemble Elijah's afternoon, you could probably do it by stringing together all the photographs and all of the frames of videotape that he walks into. Always a passerby, he is immortalized and unknown.

Invoking the moral high ground somehow makes you lose it. Using a secret as a weapon makes you almost as bad as the transgressor.

It is a dangerous thing with brothers, to think that you could be as strong as them, or as wise as them, or as good as them. To believe that you could have been the same person, if only you hadn’t gone a different way. To think that your parents raised you the same, and that your genes combined the same, and that the rest of what has happened in all your triumph . . . or failure.

It is a terrible thing to not feel missed.

It's an old story," Julia says, leaning back in her chair. "Only for me, it's new. I went to school for industrial design. All my life I've been fascinated by chairs - I know it sounds silly, but it's true. Form meets purpose in a chair. My parents thought I was crazy, but somehow I convinced them to pay my way to California. To study furniture design. I was all excited at first. It was totally unlike me to go so far away from home. But I was sick of the cold and sick of the snow. I figured a little sun might change my life. So I headed down to L.A. and roomed with a friend of an ex-girlfriend of my brother's. She was an aspiring radio actress, which meant she was home a lot. At first, I loved it. I didn't even let the summer go by. I dove right into my classes. Soon enough, I learned I couldn't just focus on chairs. I had to design spoons and toilet-bowl cleaners and thermostats. The math never bothered me, but the professors did. They could demolish you in a second without giving you a clue if how to rebuild. I spent more and more time in the studio, with other crazed students who guarded their projects like toy-jealous kids. I started to go for walks. Long walks. I couldn't go home because my roommate was always there. The sun was too much for me, so I'd stay indoors. I spent hours in supermarkets, walking aisle to aisle, picking up groceries and then putting them back. I went to bowling alleys and pharmacies. I rode buses that kept their lights on all night. I sat in Laundromats because once upon a time Laundromats made me happy. But now the hum of the machines sounded like life going past. Finally, one night I sat too long in the laundry. The woman who folded in the back - Alma - walked over to me and said, 'What are you doing here, girl?' And I knew that there wasn't any answer. There couldn't be any answer. And that's when I knew it was time to go.

It’s good to share a life—and it’s good to share minutes and hours, too, Danny thinks. With a wife. With a husband. With a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend. With a fling. With a brother.

It takes a traveler, not a tourist, to search for something deeper. Travelers want to find the wavelength on which they and the city connect.

She is no longer a person in his life; instead, she is a person that other people will remind him of.

The laws of gravity vary from city to city. In Venice, the laws state that no matter where you want to go, you will always be drawn back to ST. Mark's Square. Even though you know it will be immensely crowded, and even though you have nothing in particular to do there, you will still feel yourself drawn.

The quiet times are the ones to hold on to.

When nothing else is left, art will become the truth of the time.

With that right person, you can have a late-night conversation at any time of the day.

You can find sorrow in the arithmetic, and you can find a bittersweet hope.