Every so often I come across a passage in a book that paralyzes me. I can’t breathe or reason beyond the block of sentences on the page. Pat Conroy’s final passage in “The Prince of Tides” destroys me in such a yummy internal way. I love his mastery, his outrageous sentences.
“Each night, when practice is over and I’m driving home through the streets of Charleston, I ride with the top down on my Volkswagen convertible. It is always dark and the air is crisp with autumn and the wind is rushing through my hair. At the top of the bridge with the stars shining above the harbor, I look to the north and wish again that there were two lives apportioned to every man and woman. Behind me the city of Charleston simmers in the cold elixirs of its own incalculable beauty and before me my wife and children are waiting for me to arrive home. It is in their eyes that I acknowledge my real life, my destiny. But it is the secret life that sustains me now, and as I reach the top of that bridge I say it in a whisper, I say it as prayer, as regret, and as praise. I can’t tell you why I do it or what it means, but each night when I drive toward my southern home and my southern life, I whisper these words: “Lowenstein, Lowenstein.”