Last night I dreamt I was walking down the Latin Quarter with none other than Hemingway himself! It was a weirdly constructed universe because I was as I am now – same style, same age, same look. Paris looked as though it was the 20s, and Hemingway was as he was in his older Key West/Cuba days – beard in, weight gaining. The inconsistencies… I mean, you know, ignoring the fact that he’s a dead man.
He grabbed me by my wrist and pulled me into an alleyway, then put his hand in the small of my back, guided me into him, and started kissing me passionately (!!). And in between, he was taking breaks and talking about his successes at hunting, boxing, fishing… and I was looking up at him with adoring eyes, waiting to be kissed again. And then I woke up and thought, “What the hell?” – not because the dream ended, but because why the hell would Dream Claudia look at anyone talking about hunting, boxing, and fishing with adoring eyes?
So I got to thinking about Ernesto, and I got to thinking about all his struggles in his (actual) life. This hyper-masculinity was a result of his mother really wanting him to be a girl (even going so far as to dress him in girl’s clothing). And the fascination towards boxing, hunting, and fishing started after his break-up with Hadley. He claimed his biggest regret in his life was leaving her. Perhaps, as a response to the insecurity of his bad decision, he felt that living up to an immensely “manly ideal” was the only way to mend the hole in his heart? Womanizer, serious alcoholic (a result of depression, no doubt), and a strange fascination with pain and death.
So why do I love an author and a man so much who is literally the exact opposite of everything I like about the male-identifying gender? Because that monster is not who comes out of the tips of his fingers when he wrote.
His novels are truly a baring of his soul. He always said to write what you know, and anything else is a lie that no one will want to read. His novels were his truth, his true self, a way to expose how ultimately sensitive and brilliant and compassionate he truly was. None of the characters who so clearly represented him was anything less than a man on a soul-discovery who falls in love with a woman along the way (and why do the best women in his stories all seem to reflect Hadley?).
When I read Hemingway, I am reading words that are, without question, the most raw and authentic I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. When I read his works, I feel like I’m sitting across from him and talking to him about love and about life. Sometimes I am made to feel as though he wrote his words in a private letter, just for me to read, and with a sigh, all I can do is anticipate what he will write me next. He is just so wise, so gentle, and so the complete opposite of this misogynistic mess he used to show the world.
I don’t want this to be a post about quotes from his novels but if you’ve never read or enjoyed Hemingway before, then it’s necessary to read these. You will see the irony in so many of these quotes of his, that too often he was behaving in the exact opposite manner of the wisdom he preached:
“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
“Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”
“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
“Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”
“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”
“There isn’t any me. I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me.”
This is only a taste. I could not fully capture him in a single blog post. I could post a million more quotes from his literary works and it still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me.
Maybe I love him so much because he speaks of my own truth. Maybe I adore him because he speaks to an understanding in my heart in a way no writer has ever accomplished.
I don’t know, this is too much for the morning. But maybe I am “kissing him” (experiencing him) in a new way since walking in his footsteps and writing from cafes as he once did… I’d love to get back to that dream if he could just keep his damn mouth shut.