DISPATCHES FROM HOME: Daisy, Jay, Nick, Jordan, and Me. September 2023

“The Great Gatsby” is one of my favorite novels and movies. I’ve reread the novel twice, just within the last year or so, and watched the 1974 movie (my favorite version) about three weeks ago. Every time I read or watch “The Great Gatsby,” I discover a heretofore unknown treasure. Fitzgerald’s masterpiece weaves a rich tapestry about a hedonistic, glamorous society long vanished and the tarnished people who danced within it.

That society and its people conjure up misty memories, which transport me back to my last summer in college. Almost fifty years ago, I wrote the following words in my journal about that summer. A summer that changed my life forever…

“One day, when I am old and gray, I must sit down, calm myself, and write a novel about these last tempestuous days of summer. It’s all there you see–love, hate, decadence, and war.

Our love, twisted around every wrinkle of our souls, is a strange, mixed-up kind of love. Our desires have not necessarily been expressed in words or actions. They were silent. Never really surfacing. Smoldering just under our skin, smooth and flush with youth.

Then there’s the hate, which like our love, simmers as well. In these past months, that hate has wrapped itself around our love. Slowly choking. Strangling with a fake, lifeless grin.

Oh! Lest we forget…our decadence. Those midnight rides in that tony, cherry-red Mustang convertible. Skinny-dipping, as the late afternoon sun slowly sank into the horizon. Sunbathing on the roof, the smell of suntan lotion and chilled wine hovering above our heads. And then there were those foolish dances till dawn, drinking “pink champagne from pink satin slippers,” as we laughing said more times than I care to remember.

The war, you ask. It’s the conflict within our hearts and minds, of course. And that war rages on, picking up momentum.

How will this summer end? Perhaps, when our inner battles crush our love and our simmering hate sucks up the pink champagne, we will rush onward, onward toward our uncertain futures. And as we do, we will retain only that which we wish to remember. Because in so doing, we can cling to our sanity and not lose sight of what little there ever was of that intangible commodity…that we called love.”