It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a fan of this Rainbow lady. Thanks to my continued association with people who have their fingers on the pulse of literature (pretty sure this all started with Raych, but then of course it was Alice who enthusiasm-ed Rainbow into being our friend), I got in on the ground floor with Attachments and have since happily ridden the elevator up, first to Eleanor & Park and then to Fangirl.
But the floor I arrived at when I pressed the button marked Landline was something altogether different from the others, because instead of being a place full of beanbag chairs where I could drink a sugary coffee beverage and watch young people lovingly tousle each other's hair, there was a full bar and arm chairs with permanent dips for my bum. For me, it was present (with a hint of future) tense.
|Help yourself to a whiskey.|
Georgie and Neal have been married for about 15 years and have two young daughters and a home in Los Angeles. They’ve grown complacent in their relationship, finding endless distractions in their girls and in Georgie’s work as a sitcom writer. But all the things they haven’t been saying to each other have been piling up, as they do, the distance yawning imperceptibly wider, as it does, and when Georgie chooses to pursue an important career opportunity rather than visit Neal’s family for Christmas, the distance becomes literal. Neal takes the girls and goes to Omaha anyway, leaving Georgie at first in denial that anything is wrong and then completely uncertain about where their relationship stands.
And then the story takes a turn for the fantastical. When Georgie calls Neal from the landline in her childhood home, she discovers that she can talk to the Neal of 15 years ago, before they decided to get married. As Present Georgie talks more and more to Past Neal, she starts to wonder whether this is her chance to change history . . . and if she even wants to.
This story hit me pretty hard in a personal way. Maybe it's because I'm a lot like Georgie—domestically challenged, career-driven, inclined to pick the most saturated color on the paint sample card. Maybe it's because my husband is a lot like Neal—a better cook than he has any right to be, quiet with his emotions, big with his romantic gestures. I also have a mother who's obsessed with her pug, and we also live in Silver Lake (technically Echo Park, but that's just semantics and roughly 15% less hipsters).
Or maybe it's because he was literally digging himself into a hole while I was reading the first half of the book.
|No but really.|
We're coming up on 4 years of marriage, which is exactly the number of years we were together before the wedding. But marriage, guys . . . it's this whole other THING. And, unsurprisingly, Rainbow captures that flawlessly:
You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten—in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
It's not all introspection and married-people angst. The secondary players in Georgie's life (her mom, stepdad, sister, close friend and writing partner, daughters, and more) don't seem to have any idea that they're secondary, because Rainbow doesn't ever treat them that way. And of course there's playful banter. Of course there is.
"She reclaimed her virginity?"
"Leave it, Georgie. She can do whatever she wants with her virginity."
"Right," Georgie said, nodding her head. "Right . . . It doesn't sound like such a bad idea, actually. Maybe I'll reclaim mine before you come back. In the name of Queen Elizabeth."
|Subliminal messages in the Harry Potter books, obvs.|