There’s No Place Like Here

by Cecilia Ahern
Hyperion, New York, 2007

  • I never wanted anything new; from the age of ten, I was convinced that you couldn’t replace what was lost. I insisted on things having to be found.
  • Perhaps because I had spent so many years turning my own life upside down and looking for everything, I had forgotten to look for myself. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten to figure out who and where I was.
  • … my fees were barely enough for me to get by on. So, what was my motivation? Peace of mind, I suppose. A way to help me close my eyes and sleep at night.
  • It’s an in-between place. It’s like a grand hallway that leads you nowhere, it’s like a banquet dinner of leftovers, a sports team made of the people never picked, a mother without her child, it’s a body without its heart. It’s almost there but not quite. It’s filled to the brim with personal items yet it’s empty because the people who own them aren’t here to love them.
  • … but hindsight is a wonderful thing. How often we wish we’d stayed on the same path.
  • … it’s a feeling of knowing something is missing in your life but not being able to find it, no matter how hard you look.
  • Perhaps it would have been easier if I said that not being able to find something is like suddenly not remembering the words to your favourite song that you knew by heart. It’s like suddenly forgetting the name of someone you know really well and see every day, or the name of a television show you watched for years. It’s something so frustrating that it plays on your mind over and over again because you know there’s an answer but no one can tell you it. It niggles and niggles at me and I can’t rest until I know the answers.
  • … in my pursuit of answers to all the difficult questions in my life, I missed out on the obvious ones right in front of my very eyes.
  • … there’s only one thing more frustrating than not being able to find someone, and that’s not being found.
  • It was like Chinese whispers, starting out small but eventually growing and becoming exaggerated…
  • Everything in life has a place, and when one thing moves, it must go somewhere else.
  • You can’t hold on to all things forever, no matter how hard you grip them.
  • … I uprooted grass followed by sods, in order to find the precious jewel that had clung to my wrist for thirteen years. Its inability to remain where it should have been for too much of that time pretty much tallied with the inconsistency of the relationship with the person who had given it to me. But even those times when it released itself from my clutches and flew off, drawn in the opposite direction to the one I was heading, I always looked out for it and wanted to be near it. That way too, exactly like the relationship.
  • These objects knew things, knew what they were supposed to do. They had experience of life and lay in baskets, folded in shelves, and hung on racks ready to teach those who wore them. Like most of the people here, these objects had tasted life and then saw it slip away. And like most people here, they waited until they could taste it again.
  • Some things had to be held back, for safekeeping, for self-preservation, and in a way, I lost my confidant. The closer we got, the less he knew about me, the more I learned about him.
  • There’s a fine line between love and hate. Love frees a soul and in the same breath can sometimes suffocate it. I walked that tightrope with all the gracefulness of an elephant, my head weighing me to the side of hate, my heart hoisting me to the side of love. It was a wobbly journey and sometimes I fell. Sometimes I fell for long periods of time, but never for too long.
  • At moments when life is at its worst there are two things that you can do: 1) break down, lose hope, and refuse to go on while lying face down on the ground banging your fists and kicking your legs, or 2) laugh… I did the latter.
  • Then when the hurt goes, anger takes its place; when the anger runs out of steam, loneliness steps in to take over. It’s a never-ending circle of emotions; every lost emotion being replace by another.
  • Your heart can break at any age.
  • I have found that the many imbalances within our individual lives result in an overall more worldly balance. What I mean is that no matter how unfair I think something is, I need only look at the bigger picture to see how, in a way, it fits. My dad was right when he said that there was no such thing as a free meal: Everything comes at a cost to others, most of the time at a cost to ourselves.
  • Whenever something is gained, it has been taken from another place. When something is lost, it arrives elsewhere.
  • There are the usual philosophical questions: Why do bad things happen to good people? Within every bad thing I see good, and, likewise, within every good thing I see bad, however impossible it is to understand it or see it at the time.
  • As humans we are the epitome of life; in life there is always balance. Life and death, male and female, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, win and lose, love and hate. Lost and found.
  • Sometimes, people can go missing right before our very eyes. Sometimes, people discover you, even though they’ve been looking at you the entire time. Sometimes, we lose sight of ourselves when we’re not playing enough attention.
  • We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself. Sometimes we see the way out but wander farther and deeper despite ourselves; the fear, the anger, or the sadness preventing us from returning. Sometimes we prefer to be lost and wandering; sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes we find our own way out. But regardless, always, we are found.