I spent the warm months of early autmumn sitting on a bench in the rocky garden, writing. In appearance they were notes for a possible book, at least that's what I called them. I wanted to cut myself to pieces — I said to myself — I wanted to study myself with precision and cruelty, recount the evil of these terrible months completely. In reality the thoughts revolved around the question that Carrano had suggested to me: was I like Mario? But what did that mean? That we had chose each other because of affinities and that those affinities had ramified over the years? In what ways did I feel similar to him when I was in love with him? What had I recognized of him in myself, at the beginning of our relationship? How many thoughts, gestures, tones, tastes, sexual habits had he transmitted to me over the years?— from The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante.
In that period I filled pages and pages with questions of this type. Now that Mario had left me, if he no longer loved me, if I in fact no longer loved him, why should I continue to carry in my flesh so many of his attributes? What I had deposited in him had surely been eliminated now by Carla in the secret years of their relationship. But as for me, if all the features that I had assimilated from him had once seemed to be lovable, how, now that they no longer seemed lovable, was I going to tear them out of me? How could I scrape them definitively off of my body, my mind, without finding that I had in the process scraped away myself?
The hard part is telling us apart. And what of the ossified bits? How do I scrape him off without marring any bit of my real self? What is my real self, anyway?