I wished I had died before I loved anyone but her. -A Moveable Feast
I've spent a lot of time dazing about Paris thoughtfully looking, thinking, and imagining a future possibility of the perfect relationship.
We'll own an umbrella big enough for two and we'll walk arm in arm, you holding the curved handle and staff and complimenting my rain boots because you know I don't like to wear sensible shoes.
We have a great love affair because I don't mind that you always want to fool around after dinner and you don't mind that I always want one more glass of wine.
I knew we were in love when you reached for my hand as we left together and then you held my hand the entire walk and I didn't remember what shoes I had on with my outfit but I remember you never let me go. You remember that my shirt was berry colored and had buttons up the back, 5 to be exact, and they drove you mad.
I know that sometime in the future I won't recall how many bottles of wine I drank alone, before I felt the sensation of your kiss on my mouth. That touch is inscribed in the pyramids of Egypt because of its eternal power. The breadth of your hand's grasp, that reaches under my short hair cut at my neck and captures the right ear lobe, then the left. It's the same hold that makes kittens go limp and I can understand why. It's effectual and eternal. Can those words be used in the same sentence?
Yesterday I stepped into a bookstore because it was raining outside and I was tired of fighting the wind with my umbrella and you weren't there to hold the staff.
I picked up a paperback "Paris Without End" and carried it under my arm nonchalantly pretending like I had intended to enter the shop to purchase just this book, knowing nothing at all about it.
I found myself having a momentary anxiety attack when I landed fully in the moment and realized I actually had no purpose at all for being in the bookstore and in fact didn't know what I was doing with my day at all and couldn't recall what I had been doing with my day up to this point where I found myself having a private panic attack in anonymity in a random bookstore in Paris.
I flashed on a blog headline "Irony"- girl searching for life's purpose discovers that, perhaps, she serves no purpose at all."
Oh fuck, what then?
I look up. And there is a giant ball of mistletoe. I think about the moment when surprises like this will happen and we'll look up and we'll kiss because we've found each other. I relax, focused on that thought "we've found each other."
Today, because we haven't met, and I was wandering around in the sculpture garden at the Museé Rodin in the rain and moody weather, I pondered if you enjoy kissing as much as I do? Our kissing is what makes us the only one of our kind, unforgettable, haunting; momentous, significant, historic, important, consequential, remarkable, extraordinary, striking, vivid, arresting, impressive, distinctive, distinguished, infamous, celebrated, illustrious, glorious. (see google definition for memorable).
There's nothin' like it. No chocolate tart, no truffle infused cheese, no Christmas in Paris, no sunset in Seattle, has ever transformed my cellular structure like our kissing, like the atom bomb imploding, all consuming, devastating, penetrating, and at the same time sanctifying, cleansing, infuriating, combusting, wonderful.
This is fantastic that I find myself in the Jardin du Rodin amongst the sculptures of romantic and painfully writhed figures carrying around a book about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson.
I open the first few pages over lunch in the museum cafeteria and I instantly start crying. Could the Universe be this predictable and cliché? I'm reading a book about a love story so powerful it transformed the course of history and modern culture as we know it.
In the introduction the author describes the beginning of Ernest Hemingway's love affair with the "only woman he never stopped loving", Hadley Richardson. Ernest took one look at Hadley and "knew instantly that she was the girl he was going to marry." Soon after they met, Ernest recognized Hadley as "the woman necessary to his ambition. "
Hadley later called that evening upon meeting him " an explosion into life".
She yearned to lose herself, to escape the past by falling deeply in love.
In novel after novel Ernest represents couples as twins, so alike and complete in their love that they are almost one person.
I want you so much, I want to be you too. — Catherine Berkley Farewell To Arms
We will be one now and there will never be a separate one. — Maria For Whom the Bell Tolls
It is possible to love someone so much that you cared about nothing else and other things seemed inexistent. — Ernest Hemingway The Garden of Eden
Hadley wrote over a 1000 pages of love letters to Ernest during their courtship and he wrote just as often, though Hadley burned them one day after he left her for another woman and their marriage collapsed.
Apparently, leaving Hadley was something that Ernest regretted for his entire life. Gioia Dilberto writes "Hemingway's great talent was in evoking the most intimate moments of longing, and all his fictional love stories flow from the central love story of his own life- his marriage to Hadley. She is chiefly remembered, for her portrayal in Hemingway's poignant memoir of his youth in Paris, A Moveable Feast, where his remorse for leaving her can be felt on every page." A Moveable Feast was the last thing Hemingway worked on, and was unfinished when he committed suicide in 1961.
"There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other..... but this was how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy." - Ernest
"I wished I had died before I loved anyone but her."
Ernest kept Hadley's love letters all his life. His fourth wife, Mary, sent them back to Hadley after his suicide, and Hadley kept them for another eighteen years. After her death in 1979, her son found them stuffed into a shoebox in her Florida apartment."
Today when I was posturing for a good look at "The Kiss", surrounded by multiple other tourists posturing in the same selfish ways as I, this couple caught my attention.
They kissed standing in front of the sculpture and then I watched as his hand lingered on her rear end after having given her a vigorous squeeze. My first reaction, was how gauche! and I disapproved of his bedazzled designer jeans. And then he said with a strong accent "That was good." and I couldn't decide if he was talking about the kiss or "The Kiss" and if I'd imagined hearing him say it at all. And then I realized I didn't care! I wanted my love to take me to see Rodin and squeeze my ass in front of the sculpture of the man squeezing the lady's ass carved in marble forevermore.
Yes! AN EXPLOSION INTO LIFE. This is the juicy stuff, the stuff of life, it all comes down to the tiny moments that become forever carved into the marble of your memory. Squeeze my ass standing in a crowded room expressing our fervor for love and admiration of one of my favorite artists of all time and kiss me under the mistletoe in the bookstore, and let people scream inside their heads "How gauche!" And I will know with all my being that this is the good stuff, the stuff that love stories are made of, the stuff that novels are written about, the stuff that changes the course of history forevermore.
There is one overarching lesson that my experience in Paris is teaching me: Don't get caught up in my own story. I don't have to know how it all works out, or understand why it is the way it is.
Every day, every time I step out my front door, at every moment, life can …. and quite possibly... will change…. irrevocably.
I will never be the same again. And that is wonderful and strange.