Let’s get into Cassie’s relationships. What do you think about the connection she has with the chef? In what ways does spending time with him diminish or expand the black hole that follows her around? As for Cassie’s platonic relationships, it seems like she doesn’t enjoy spending time with her girlfriends or her coworkers. Why do you think she keeps hanging around Nicole? Why do you think Cassie has a hard time connecting with others? Is this inability to truly connect with others something that resonates with you? Is this a symptom of the modern condition?
Cassie's relationship with the chef is literally going nowhere. She knows this, but is seeking comfort where she can get it, exchanging physical intimacy for the experience of emotional intimacy; even though that emotional intimacy is a charade, a hollow performance with no truth at its core. Now that I'm writing it, I'm realizing I've done this myself in the past. When you're lonely, any bearable company can feel better than nothing at all; it's relief from being alone with your thoughts.
Cassie's inability to connect with her "friends" shows that she's outgrown them. Whatever they once had in common (a job, a neighborhood) is no longer connecting them, but nobody has dared to admit this, so they're clinging on to the routine of making plans and hanging out, even though it's stopped being fun or rewarding in any way. I wanted to whisper to Cassie, "Move to a new town! Take a new job! Find a new circle of people who light you up." But it's hard when you're feeling that low, to remember that there is a wider world than you have yet glimpsed.
We've all had friendships that no longer serve us. It can be easier to let them fade away slowly, rather than confronting those people with the news that you'd rather not spend time with them anymore. But for Cassie, those people make up her entire social and professional network; there is nobody she can speak her mind to and trust that they have her back. That's a real shame. Our health depends on us being able to express our feelings. When everything stays internal, we never decompress, and the negativity and isolation builds up. Maybe the book is a cautionary tale to remind the reader to commit to emotional authenticity, or reap the consequences. I hadn't thought of it like that until now.
What struck me the most about Cassie and her relationships is she didn’t have a community, and that bleakness fueled her black hole of depression and isolation. She thought the SF tech job was her ticket, and what struck me the most every time she interacted with her dad was how he’d say, “There’s nothing for you here.” It seemed less like praise for her getting out of a dead end back home and more like they gave her an unspoken ultimatum about returning back to her parents if things weren’t working. That lack of support is painful. Her friends weren’t really friends... everyone was trailing their own black holes and issues. The chef was her closest chance at intimacy, and it seemed like she was waiting for him to somehow change his mind about what they were to each other. And he didn’t. And she knew better but didn’t seem to believe she deserved more.
I take that the black hole of capitalism that was tethered to her before she was born swallows up or at least is always in process of swallowing up family, relationships, privacy, time, identity, community, homes, and whole cities. I’m wondering how, for the author, this ties to the title and theme throughout the book regarding fruit (life/womb/seeds). All the ripe juicy sweetness of life goes to rot? Except life is always both ripe and rot? Our capacity for pain is what I felt most floored by when I finished the book, and her giving into it as a fact of life that seems hopeless to resist is how I am thinking about her relationships-- like how more pain is sometimes the only effective coping tool for ensuring pain.
This prompt was a bit about her romantic relationship or her friendships, but the one that stood out the most to me was the one with her mother. Now that I am a mother myself, I can kind of understand her freak out on her kid because kids don't see everything that's going on between parents. When I read that scene in the supermarket I felt horrible for the abuse heaped on to Cassie and yet I could also understand that there might have been some dynamic between the mother and the father that Cassie was not seeing where the mother was underappreciated. Or even possibly abused by the husband/ father. Did anybody else notice this? It's never okay to treat your child like that, but it sounds like she was trying to express how she was feeling towards her husband and taking it out on Cassie. I don't know why I over empathized here, but maybe it's just part of getting older and seeing things differently through my own familial relationships
(Thank you Roxane for creating this space for us all to reflect together. I always look forward to your prompts and your book suggestions. Reading Lush Lives now!)
I am BRAND NEW here. Who is Cassie. Is this a story-line from a book... If so what is that book.??? You have got my interest from the email, but from there I don'f see any other guiding information as to who these people are and from where they originate. Thank you from anyone who gets back.