That’s about as poetic as I get. In High School, I was kindly forced to read Hemginway’s Farewell to Arms for Summer Reading. That was the summer my first (not true, first) love went to college, The summer (well spring anyways) I cut off my long, beautiful hair for the first time, and the summer that I decided I abhorred Hemingway.
AP Language Junior Year and I did not get off to a good start. I couldn’t tell you what other books I had to read that summer. But I remember Farewell to Arms because it was god-awful and hard to read. I read it spending a week at my friend’s cabin (I went to a private high school, so while my family was not necessarily of means, I was smart enough to be friends with kids who were), and our goal was to get ALL our summer reading done in one week. That was our first problem.
The second problem was that I’m not necessarily a fan of poetic language. I’m terrible at analyzing poetry and even listening to it can be kind of painful.
And third, in high school, I was a hardcore religious nut. This girl has pre-marital sex and I’m supposed to feel sorry that she got pregnant? I’m supposed to feel sorry that her baby died? In my eyes at 15, I wanted to know what she expected when she participate in those kinds of bad-girl shenannigans.
And the war. What did I know about WWI? AP US History was the same year I took AP Language, so I had no idea what WWI was about. I had no idea what these people were fighting over, and I was (still am) a pacifist.
So, needless to say, it was a rough week (the week we spent doing our summer reading was also the week my boyfriend and I broke up so that he could “find himself” in college – i know what that means now, but I was only 15 and very naive then).
Fast-forward 5 years, and I meet the love of my life. The love of my life, who idolizes Hemingway. Who writes poetry and novels and short stories, and what can I say to him? I hate Hemingway. Hemingway who couldn’t console my broken heart that week in the mountains, Hemingway who forced me to read about things that I had no concept of and was then supposed to be tested on come one of the most important, college application readying years of high school.
But, being in a relationship is about trying new things, and over the last 5 years, I’ve been trying to open myself up to Hemingway. I allowed Christian to hang a Hemingway Ballantine Ale ad (see photo above) in our house. It was a gift from one of his favorite College professors. I couldn’t say no. I even said we could hang it in the living room. Aren’t I a cool wife?
Anyways, with Hemginway staring at me everyday, I feel guilty. I feel bad that I maybe never gave him a second chance. So, about 2 years ago, I started Old Man and the Sea, Christian’s favorite Hemingway book. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t finish it in one sitting and found other things to do. That, and I didn’t want Christian seeing me reading it. He might think I was trying to take an interest in the things he likes or something.
And then, two days ago, I was desparate for something to read. Everything I had been trying to read sucked. I went through 4 books that I couldn’t get into – fiction, non-fiction, adult, kid lit. So, I thought maybe I needed a change of pace. I asked Christian, apprehensively, “What’s the most accessible Hemingway for me?”. He started with well, “Farewell to…” And I automatically went NO! Then he said “Old Man and the Sea” and I said, tried it. He said try it again, and, like a petulant child, I said no. So then he suggested A Moveable Feast. Hmm… I hadn’t heard of this one. He gave me a brief description and I said fine. I’ll try that. I took it off the bookshelf and also grabbed a collection of Roald Dahl’s adult short stories in case A Moveable Feast didn’t work out. Cuz I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get past page 10.
But, surprisingly, it’s not so bad. Hemingway is still poetic and flowery, but I have a new appreciation (and a knowledge that I can skim – apparently a concept I didn’t have in high school) for him. I’m almost 100 pages in, and his time in Paris is pretty interesting. Maybe its because I’ve actually been to Paris – albeit, much later than him – so I can somewhat relate. Or, maybe, I’ve lived with a writer for long enough now that I can relate to what Hemingway is going through and now that I’m older and not reading for a test, I can appreciate that poetic language that takes a whole paragraph to describe a tree. Or something like that.