The History of Love Chapter 9: Here We Are Together
By Nicole Krauss
Chapter 9: Here We Are Together
Again it's Zvi Litvinoff's last day in Poland. He walks home after saying good-bye to his friend and removes from his coat the brown paper package his friend had given him. On the outside is written, "To be held for Leopold Gursky until you see him again" (9.1).
He checks his pockets for his passport and tickets.
Zvi travels from Poland to Spain, from Spain to Lisbon, and then from Lisbon to Chile, where one of his father's cousins lives. He does some random stuff before finding a job working in a pharmacy. Finally he's able to afford a place of his own and, unpacking his stuff, he finds the brown paper package his friend had given him.
He saves up money to bring his sister Miriam over from Poland.
Zvi buys a shortwave radio and listens to the news from Europe, as the Nazis invade Poland.
He prefers to be alone. When people invite him over to their house he makes an excuse. One time he lies and says he has some writing to finish. This starts the rumor that he is a writer.
Eventually, the pharmacy closes and Litvinoff is hired as a teacher at a Jewish day school.
World War II ends, and over time he learns that everyone in his family is now dead.
Now thirty-two years old, he meets Rosa at a café. They begin dating. The night after their first kiss, Litvinoff experiences terrible self-doubts—that he's not good enough for her, etc.
He takes the bus home, takes off his clothes, and sits naked in the dark.
He mumbles the words on the piece of paper he keeps folded in his breast pocket. The words have almost become an incantation for him over the years.
Later that night, Litvinoff takes the brown paper package from inside his suitcase. He opens it, places the contents onto his desk, and burns the envelope.