3/05/2003

After my morning lessons, I was at a loss as to what to do with myself for the rest of the day. Of course I didn’t want to teach, so I was happy about not having to, but somehow I wanted to be out of the flat and around people. I thought about going to the Rudas (the so-called "sportsmen’s bathhouse") but, I don’t know, I haven’t really earned a sauna. And then somehow I realized that being close to people but unable to talk to them, much less to touch them would only exacerbate my feelings of alienation from humanity. Yes, there was a voice in my head saying, "come off it, it’s your own fault, you know!" I didn’t bother to argue with the voice. What’s the point?

I had a panic attack last night I just recalled. I was in bed, asleep. I heard something, a noise—impossible to say whether it was real or in my head. It seemed to me someone was in the room with me. My blood went cold. I managed to leap up and groped along the wall for the light switch. Of course I was alone. My heart was racing. And it took me a while to calm down and get back to sleep. I kept hearing little noises, but they were just the little noises buildings and rooms make. And here I am scratching at the walls for the light switch, afraid of the dark. Who would have come to my room? Who would have been in my room? When I turned off the light again I saw him crouching in the corner, a blacker shade of black, and more silent than silence. Naked and crouching. A really horrible thing. Whispering (to himself, of course): "patience, patience, patience." But then you can be patient, can’t you, when you are assured of your prize? This is the closest he has come for a long time. But we have met before. And we’ll meet again.

I wish I were not so afraid. I wish I didn’t feel so defeated. I wish I were a man. It’s like Pilinszky wrote:

...az erõsek
hajnalban kelnek, fát aprítanak,
isznak egy korty pálinkát, s így tovább.
Mivel csak õk, az erõs gyilkosok
Ismerik a füvek, fák, madarak,
A nõk és a csecsemõk nyelvét

"Self-reproach is an evil worm." I wish I could live without it. Live life with humor and zest, not a thought for tomorrow, no regret of yesterday. I wish I wish I wish. I wish I were someone else entirely, but still me. In fairy tales that’s how it is. There’s a beauty inside the beast. But I wonder, when the beast is transformed once more into the beauty mustn’t the beast be inside somewhere still, too?

If I got my wish, all this that’s happening now, all this that’s me right now, would be a kind of peculiar dream I would wake up from.

I would laugh and tell my wife lying next to me, "what a funny dream I’ve had."

(We would be speaking some other language, one I don’t know and have never heard.)

She would say, in this strange familiar tongue, "tell it to me."

I would squint, trying to remember.

"It seemed very long. I can’t remember how it began."

"How did it end?"

"I went to sleep."

Wife would laugh.

"It doesn’t sound like a dream."

"It didn’t feel like a dream," I would tell her. "But I’m glad it was."

We would lie in silence, as scenes from my strange dream faded into obscurity.

"Was I in it?" she would finally venture (because women in this other place are much the same as anywhere).

"No," I would say. "That’s why I’m glad it was just a dream, and I could wake up from it."

And then I would make love to her, because it would have felt like a long time—a lifetime—since I had. This time would feel like the first time.

And the dream would stay with me all morning, until about lunchtime. Upon first seeing my face, in the mirror perhaps, I would be slightly taken aback, but only very slightly. Of course, I am me, I would think, chuckling to myself. I would feel my comely face, and look at my powerful torso in the glass. I’m much better looking than I was in my dream, I would think.

And everything—the cottage, the barn set into the mountainside, the landscape and the view, would all seem new to me, or as if I had just returned from a long journey. And it would continue to vex me a little for a short time on account of the peculiarities of the strange language, and the queer sensation of actually being someone so unlike me in a world so unlike my own.

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