Haunted, but all will be well

A girl came in the cafe and sat by herself at a table near the window.  She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and dieagonally across her cheek.

I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited.  I wished I could put her in the story, or anywhere, but she had placed herself so she could watch the street and the entry and I knew she was waiting for someone.  So I went on writing.

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

The air smelled of gentle early morning summer rain languidly evaporating on grass and trees when I walked to the coffee shop this morning.  I sat at the window in the coffee shop reading the opening chapter, A Good Cafe on the St.-Michel, of the restored version of A Moveable Feast.  Memories of the summer I first read it returned.  I’ve read the book many times, but only in summer.  It is a summer book for me even though Hemingway evokes the sting of late fall when the weather turns cold and strips the leaves from the trees.

The first time I wondered what it would be like to be a writer was when I was 17 and reading the Ian Fleming James Bond novels on summer mornings.  The second time came when I was in my twenties and read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.  I’ve had moments in my life when I’ve been distressed or depressed and the only way I could fall asleep at night was by telling myself, don’t worry, you’ll write  a bit tomorrow morning and all will be well.  And those morning always followed.

Walking home from the coffee shop I saw a woman standing across the street waiting for the traffic light to turn.  She was young and pretty.  She wore sandals and a white summer dress dotted navy blue.  She was tan yet not too tan.  Her black hair was partially pulled back leaving the sides falling about her shoulders.  The light changed.  When we passed in the middle of the street I glanced at her and she was looking at me, an old man smoking a cigarette with A Moveable Feast tucked in his armpit, his long hair spilling from underneath a Cubs baseball cap.  She might have been Hemingway’s girl at the Place St.-Michel returned to haunt another old man.

At home, before going in, I stood on the sidewalk and finished my cigarette and imbibed the odor of the rain glazed grass.

Today, I feel as though it is the summer of 2002, the year I turned 54 and officially decided I was living my first year of old age.  That year I declared myself a writer too–either for good or ill.  I have betrayed my writing many times since.  I should have written successfully by now.

On these summer nights of 2009 I still tell myself before falling asleep, don’t worry, you’ll write in the morning, and all will be well.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  

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