A MovEable Feast.
I want to hang out with Ernest Hemingway. I want to walk with him to the Musee du Luxembourg and then have good things to eat with him.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. ~ Ernest Hemingway to a friend, 1950.
Now, I was not lucky enough to have lived in Paris a young man, Hell, I am not, nor will I ever be, a young man. Or a man period, for that matter. And I will never be lucky enough to sit down and drink a chilled Algerian wine with Hemingway, or Hem, as his friends called him. Surely we would have been friends. I will never walk with him to Sylvia Beach’s library and discuss words and pictures, whisky and James Joyce. And for that I am truly bereft.
I know he shot himself early one morning over 50 years ago and perhaps that is also another reason I feel the connection as I too have known the dark night of the soul, and the swing of the mood, the blurring of the facts. I know I am idealizing his life but that’s ok. That’s what we do with people we choose to carry with us. We take the magic parts of them and light them up so bright that anything else is unseeable.
But I did just read A Moveable Feast and felt as if I was there in Paris. I imagine it to be so and that is most definitely what he was aiming for and what he was so gifted at. I am sure that is why my friend gave me the book and insisted I read it before I went to Paris. I didn’t. I read it over a few days last week and fell into a reverie, and a slight romance with Hem, and all the usual suspects like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. And a longing to go back to Paris where I just came from.
I found myself wondering how I ended up in the wrong era?
How anytime Hemingway and his friends spoke to one another they said each other’s names often. It makes everything glisten and sound important.
A moveable feast. I love that notion for what it suggests. I have always been prone to nostalgia, perhaps to a fault, carrying my friends with me on slips of paper and photographs, letting them fade a little but never so much that I couldn’t see where they were. Perhaps this explains my love of Facebook. Of connection.
Why should one’s feast be stagnant and confined to one place?
I say we make more moveable feasts. That maybe we become our own moveable feasts so that when we move, when we pack up the boxes that contain of our lives, we have that feast in us and can spread it out buffet style wherever we go. Ernest Hemingway understood this. Perhaps this is why he wrote. I will never lose you he might have said to his feast over some chicken with his first wife Hadley.
I have my own private feasts.
Wherever I go, there they are. My tribe. I don’t meet strangers anymore as I have said so often, I only meet old friends. My tribe has proven moveable and it never takes long to find them where ever I am. It only revealed itself as this way once I realized that I could take it with me, that it was inside of me. For a long time I believed that my feast was stuck in one place and that place was way beyond my scope of imagination.
What I am saying is this: I am a moveable feast.
He says in the book: 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.
There are so many worlds within that one paragraph I could travel to. First of all, the idea that there is no problem except where to be happiest is simply delicious. That my only concern could be: Where to go hang my heart, where to go sip my Muscadet in the sunshine or eat oysters? Where can I go keep being happy today?
People: the population that most often causes us pain and suffering and delight. Yes, delight as well, admittedly. That the only thing that could spoil a day was people is quite funny. Nowadays, we are so dialed in. Okay, I am so dialed in. So over-connected.
How to get away from letting things in that don’t belong in my brain or on my calendar or my computer screen is a concern Hem didn’t have back then. He didn’t have to think about shutting down Facebook or texting someone back or tweeting or getting stuck in traffic with other people.
Except for the very few people that were as good as spring itself. I have my own little list, steadily growing in size as I grow in years. It’s more than a few, but hey, I am sure I know more people than Hemingway did by sheer virtue of social media. I am not sure that is a good thing.
I want to spend more time with my list, with my few people that are as good as Spring itself. I want to spend more time with Spring itself. I want to go back to Paris with my pen and my eyes and let them do the work and then take it back with me wherever I go, much as Hemingway attempted to.
Wherever I go I will be home because I will take with me my own moveable feast. I will be on my Awe Tour all the time, taking notes and adding them to my repertoire, which includes: Ernest Hemingway, and my favorite people and memories. Wines that I love and songs too, pictures I took and people I thought I have forgotten but haven’t, books I have read and sentences I remember from where I do not know. And miracles I have been privy to or part of all along the way. Things I am not proud of alongside my greatest accomplishments, the talisman I wear around my neck and a paper scrawled with all the things that would fit on it which bring me wonder. All of these things will be part of my movable feast and as I get older it will grow, and it will shrink, and it may grow again but it will always be movable unless I forget that it is.
And I will never forget.
I will carry Hemingway in my breast pocket or the equivalent of that, maybe on my iPad or Kindle, and I will reach for him if I start to feel like I am being swallowed by nothingness or everythingness or Facebook.
I will pour myself a glass of something red, get a nice pen, and maybe some nice stationery for Hemingway’s sake, and I will neatly write out all the things that are included in my moveable feast. For as long as it takes.
Who and what is in your box? In your own moveable feast?
Who is your Hemingway? Your light post when it gets a little too dark to remember where you have been?
***For Laura Donnelly