I believe I quoted this passage a few months ago when I read it. Now, home in Medford, I revisit it:
"The one thing Pierre desired now with his whole soul was quickly to get away from the horrifying sensations he had undergone that day, to return to the ordinary conditions of life, and to sleep peacefully in his own bed in his own room. He felt that only in the ordinary conditions of life would he be able to understand himself and all he had seen and experienced. But these ordinary conditions were nowhere to be found." -- p. 1007
So - yeah. I am back in Boston. I am back in the U.S. and back from Korea and no longer teaching rugrats, and I just think, listen, Pierre, Natasha, really? Is it possible? Can I just make this little thing called life work out?
Returning from another country is a great way to process The Book. I have had several meltdowns and a few wig-outs in the last two weeks as I've been galavanting about the Northeast seeing the people I need to see and answering the questions I need to answer.
And I didn't even see a battlefield in my "tour of duty"! (Unless you count the day we went to the DMZ.) But those classes, those screaming children in the hallways, those incessant orders of advance and retreat from the Ding Ding Dang powers that be, were all a lot like what the armies went through. You know, in a very melodramatic metaphorical way.
This book, this life -- they're bigger than us all! Bigger than I can get my mind around! But "these ordinary conditions were nowhere to be found" doesn't quite do it. On the contrary, I've come back to my house with the girls and the balcony and the Orchard Street treetops and the 96 bus and the woman at my local Dunkin' Donuts on Boston Ave who after nine months remembers me AND MY MEDIUM ICED COFFEE CREAM NO SUGAR ORDER!!
I think even Pierre might agree with me that in the epilogue, the ordinary conditions are to be found. They just might be right there waiting for you. Right where you left them.