Especially in the beginning of the novel, there is a lot of talk about what the future might hold and what should they do with their lives and how to make it. This panicky feeling of losing time and opportunities is nothing new to a literature student – “And what do you plan to do after graduation?”, the question hangs in the air accompanied with a benevolent smile while I’m trying to avoid eye contact – which is why I could easily relate to Emma’s feelings of misery and defeat as she walked Ian through the wonderfully exciting world of Loco Caliente. When your dreams have not come true and you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, how do you find the energy to get up in the morning? When do you actually run out of time? Dexter took a lot longer to ‘find himself’ and in the end, he finds stability and contentment, which is what we are looking for, right? When he makes a comment about settling down because he cannot use his age as an excuse anymore at 34, I think about how many people would already have condemned him at 25? I did, but why? Then again, his lifestyle is something I would never accept anyway, so it’s a moot point however old he is. Also, London. I have a feeling I might move there too, after graduation. For work, for people, for the scene itself. For opportunities. I might find myself exactly like Emma if I’m lucky; at least she had an apartment and a job. Future is a murky thing, a shadow lurking in the corners of your university flat, looking to get you. Sometimes it’s a positive thing, a force outside yourself, pushing you to apply for that job and finish that essay. Assert yourself and show what you are worth. Emma and Dexter both found some kind of success and happiness in the end, didn’t they?
Emma + Ian
I found this relationship curious. Maybe it is easy to judge, in my relatively young age, the reasons behind why people decide to share their life with someone. Also in the novel, Ian maybe works as a contrast to Dexter and the different life path Emma could potentially take. But really, how do you justify to yourself that you are using a person to fill the empty feeling inside yourself, in the hope that you will learn to love them? I’m sure it was not intentional on Emma’s part and, yes, I know I am talking about a fictional character as if she were real but then again isn’t that one of the main reasons we read books, to find other people and their lives interesting and to get that chance to gilmpse at their life, even sometimes to judge and mock, but in the end to witness a moment, string of moments or a whole life of a person, an actual person, living somewhere there in the universe, if not this, then the parallel one. End of rant, moving on. I am sure it was not intentional on Emma’s part but it made me feel sorry for Ian; he is there, loving her and making plans and planting hopes and dreams and needs on her and all the while she has one step out of the door or at least half of her heart fluttering out from the open window, catching wind and taking off, into the blue sky. We find out later that Ian is okay, and that he has found someone who is better for him than Emma ever was but is it still okay? In my opinion it was always clear that Emma did not really love him, that his ways were from the beginning only irritating to her and that she never had the spark that would be the reason behind the theatre. I don’t believe it is okay to use someone like that and that you should be honest about what you want from the other person. Now, when I think back to Dexter, he is another one of those using other people to fill a void and I am not excusing him in any way. However, I do believe there is a difference between sleeping around and clearly not promising anything and buying a place together when you know you don’t love the other person. That level of commitment implies a true connection. At this point I must step back and remind myself that this is not real life and that I am getting all worked up for nothing and move on!
One day. Barely a day. For twenty or so years. That’s all we get. In her review in the Guardian, Elizabeth Day correctly states that “returning to the same day each year means that some of the most important events in their life are never recounted”. Where is Dexter and Sylvie’s wedding? Emma and Dexter’s wedding? The time that Emma and Dexter finally got together? All the other ordinary days that were so important they made it impossible for them to stay apart. But no, we are not allowed into that part of their lives, but why not? Surely those would make the most interesting bits to read? Then again, maybe those grand days are not the most important but the idea of continuance and flowing of years, mercilessly between that one day and the next. What is so great about that particular day anyway? July 15th 1988, the day after their graduation. When I Google that particular day, I get a list of famous people born that day, historical events, political movements, new laws put into action. For Dexter and Emma, it was something more than a day, more of an event, a symbol even. As said on the last page of the novel:
This is where it all begins. Everything starts here, today.
– Jatta –