On the opposite wall a thoughtful Mark Twain smoked a cigar, and a bearded Whitman was staring at me, propping his chin on his fist. Nabokov also studied me, as if I was a butterfly or caterpillar, having moved his glasses down from the bridge of his nose. Is it possible to refuse such company?
However, friendship with these gentlemen, detached from earthly affairs and concerns, as it turned out, cost quite a bit of money. Alas! I soon became not very necessary to my wife, being jobless, penniless, and hopeless, as befitting a real writer.
My wife and I started arguing a lot. I saw that she did not understand my writing ambitions, nor did she want to. It led me to leave my family and move into another apartment. I sometimes met with my son, but all my free time I dedicated to my novel.
My sister Leah was inquiring about our parents’ money. At first it was occasionally, as if by chance. But mother’s cancer turned out to be inoperable and her dementia was progressing rapidly, which is why we had to place her in the nursing home. In a word, all events indicated that it was time for us to start tackling the practical side of death. So, Leah started demanding that I give back my parents’ money, not everything, just half, the amount needed for the funeral.
Leah vaguely guessed that I had spent all the money, but she still could not believe it. In Leah’s mind I was a strange, unpredictable, incomprehensible person to everybody and even to myself. Although she did not get me at all, she loved me regardless. This is what unconditional love is, when people love in spite of everything, instead of for something.
Leah, being familiar with and ready for any kind of whims and quirks from my side, still believed that I had clear boundaries which I would never cross. This was an axiom for her. Each of us needs an axiom; otherwise, one can easily get lost in the many half-truths which accompany us during life at every step.