The Interestings, more than any book I've read in the last year, really stuck with me. I bring it up often, with anyone who will listen. I talk about how deftly Wolitzer tackles coming to terms with growing older, realizing the self you are is not necessarily the self you imagined yourself being in your teens and twenties, and facing an unexceptional life at middle age that does not necessarily mean uninteresting. This November I will turn 35, an age I never imagined myself being, and don't really feel. I don't feel uninteresting and I know that the life I lead is, in so many ways, unexceptional. But the truth is, I find happiness in things I doubt my 25-year-old self would, and in shrugging off the desire and impulse to live that exceptional life, I am a happier person for it.
Over lunch today, I read the Tracey Emin interview "The Ghost of Me Was Still There" in The New York Times Magazine, and again started thinking about The Interestings, growing older, living with the detritus and substance of our youth, and looking back at our younger selves with distance and a bit of wonder. This part of the interview fascinated me:
Charles Saatchi owns your famous piece “My Bed,” an unmade bed with the detritus of a bad few months of depression in 1998. How does the bed get installed when it travels?[image: "My Bed," Tracey Emin, Saatchi Gallery]
I install it. Everything is in sealed containers, and it’s all labeled, like a crime scene. I did it in Frankfurt last year. I hadn’t seen it since 2008. I was thinking, with the cigarettes, that’s so weird because I don’t smoke anymore. I haven’t had sex for years, and there’s this condom. God, there’s a tampon, and I haven’t had a period for years. There’s my ex-boyfriend’s marijuana, I would never be with anyone who smokes marijuana now; there’s a whiskey bottle, and I don’t drink spirits. I get inside and pull the covers over me and then fold them back to look natural. I can actually smell the past. When I touched the condoms, I thought, Oh, I really loved that person who wore that condom. It’s a strange feeling, a good feeling. This ghost of me was still there.