I felt that, all the same, I needed only to have her all in white, with her throat bare, in front of me, as I had seen her at Balbec in bed, to find the courage which oblige her to yield.
"Since you're being kind enough to stay here a moment to console me, you ought to take off your gown, it's too hot, too stiff, I dare not approach you for fear of crumpling that fine stuff, and there are those fateful birds between us. Undress my darling."
"No, I couldn't possibly take off this dress here. I shall undress in my own room presently."
"Then you won't even come and sit down on my bed?"
"Why, of course."
She remained, however, some way away from me, by my feet. We talked. Suddenly we heard the regular rhythm of a plaintive call. It was the pigeons beginning to coo. "That proves that day has come already," said Albertine; and, her brows almost knitted, as though she missed, by living me, the joys of fine weather, "Spring has begun, if the pigeons have returned." The resemblance between their cooing and the crow of the cock as as profound and obscure as, in Vinteuil's septet, the resemblance between the theme of the adagio and that of the opening and closing passages, it being built on the same key-theme but so transformed by differences of tonality, tempo, etc. that the lay listener who opens a book on Vinteuil is astonished to find that they are all three based on the same four notes, four notes which for that matter he may pick out with one finger upon the piano without recognising any of the three passages. Likewise, this melancholy refrain performed by the pigeons was a sort of cockcrow in the minor key, which did not soar up into the sky, did not rise vertically, but, regular as the braying of a donkey, enveloped horizontal line, and never raised itself, never changed in lateral plaint into that joyous appeal which had been uttered so often in the allegro of the introduction and the finale. I know that I then uttered the word "death," as though Albertine were about to die. It seems that events are larger than the moment in which they occur and cannot be entirely contained in it. Certainly they overflow into the future through the memory that we retain of them, but they demand a place also in the time that precedes them, but they demand a place also in the time the precedes them. One may say that we do not then see them as they are to be, but in memory are they not modified too?
Marcel Proust, The Captive, pp. 407-408
Albertine has refused to kiss Marcel, not once but twice. Taken aback, he reflects: "It was as though she was attuning her actions to that quarrel, and yet with moderation, whether so as not to announce it, or because, while breaking off carnal relations with me, she wished nevertheless to remain my friend." (p. 406) Albertine, at least according to Proust (and if you can't believe the author who can you believe, unless the author is writing through the lens of Marcel then feel free not to believe him), is trying to talk that fine line that all of us have walked, and all of us have experienced on the receiving end, and I suspect it will work as well for her as it does for the rest of the planet. Oddly, some of my best and closest friends are women with whom I've shared an intense degree of intimacy, which I attribute to the fact that I was always honest with them. And at the same time there are two women, one who I was married to and one who I was engaged to, who I am sure are waiting patiently for my death (and who have a red dress picked out for my funeral). My supposition is that, beyond the pain of being in contact with someone that you shared a life or shared the dream of a life, in these cases there was in the end not the honesty that marked the other relationships that still persist in a diminished form. So, does this mean that all long-term relationships, or at least mine, end up being based on lies and deception? Now that's a sobering moment for a Tuesday morning. Still, it reminds me of something a friend of mine proposed one time (I have many intelligent friendly, many of them quite insightful and almost all of them eminently snarky). He suggested that there was a tremendous danger in that moment when you stopped fucking your girlfriend and started making love to her, which was based on the notion that in doing so you were imposing a narrative (at the same time you were creating it) on your rampant carnality - and from that moment the relationship would grow less and less honest. I'm not certain if he's right, although it speaks to Proust's point.
And speaking of moments, Proust opines: "It seems that events are larger than the moment in which they occur and cannot be entirely contained in it. Certainly they overflow into the future through the memory that we retain of them, but they demand a place also in the time that precedes them, but they demand a place also in the time the precedes them." Linden's pumpkin book gives us many examples of the tricks that perception play (essentially, there is no such thing as a clean perception). As Proust points out, "One may say that we do not then see them as they are to be, but in memory are they not modified too?" Proust is right, and this in turn means that moments are far from equal. There are moments in my life that overwhelm years and in fact devour them, and in the years there are decades which are subservient to those moments.