Then, in Portland, I wound up at Powell's City of Books. Among the tomes I purchased in this cathedral to the written word, I saw Michael Cunningham's The Hours on the sale rack for $6.95. I'd always liked the movie and heard good things about the book, so I bit. And on the train from Portland to Seattle, I read this section, from icon Virginia Woolf's perspective as she contemplates the life of the titular character in the novel she's writing, Mrs. Dalloway:
Not exactly one of the more striking lines of prose in this remarkable work, but for me, it was an instant literary Rand McNally, a AAA triptych of comportment and action: I will write in the mornings and read in the afternoons, lunch with friends, work in the evenings (language or accent-reduction classes, probably; maybe introductory Spanish). And every now-and-then, I'll give and attend parties (but I'm a Gap Inc. kinda guy, so...). I may stray from the route occasionally because of circumstance or chance, but the endpoints are fixed and the map is drawn. Nothing's left but to fill the hours until I arrive.
"This particular novel concerns a serene, intelligent woman...who is preparing for the season in London, where she will give and attend parties, write in the mornings and read in the afternoons, lunch with friends, dress perfectly."