F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.
I understand Fitzgerald pretty well. I get how he thinks. When I wasn't learning anything in college from professors who had nothing to teach me, I would skip class and read. A lot. I read everything by Fitzgerald, every story, novel, letter, essay, travelogue piece--yes, he had those, too--notebook entry. He was trying to create a famous line with the above bit. You can tell when that's an author's intention. It's not necessarily something they believe. They're going for a words thing, and they can sell it, if they have the chops and the right conceit.
Doesn't make you a bad person to go for the line, doesn't compromise you artistically. You're doing what you're doing. It can have value. Personally, I don't like to reach for a line like that, but a character might, and a character is autonomous from me, which sounds like a paradox, but it's complicated. A third person narrator is also autonomous from me.
I was thinking about the Fitzgerald line, though, in relation to Emma. At some point--I am tired of writing "someday" here--I hope I meet some amazing woman whom I'll always be with, and we'll have a remarkable connection and she'll be brilliant and kind. It'd be great if the bad part of my journey--this status quo of a life worse than straight out, continuous torture--was behind me by then, behind me soon, and I could share the reaping part with her. But I was wondering if I might care for someone, or feel more connected to someone, than I do Emma, hence the Fitzgerald quote playing in my head, and hence its veracity, with me, in this context.
Emma is on Cape Cod--ironically--for the week, with her two best friends, Dorothy--whose parents have a place there--and Anthony. The latter is leaving for California, for college, in a couple weeks. Emma looks up to him greatly, reveres him; doesn't necessarily idolize him, but the respect she has for him is palpable in her voice. I know she's worried about this physical separation. Emma is someone whose relationships won't be weakened by distance. My friend John and I go back more than twenty years now. We haven't seen each other in a dozen years, I bet. Hasn't changed anything.
I guess that would be different if I was not in this hell, because then it'd be on the table to go to a ballgame or a bar or hang out with him and his family, things that I can't do right now. Everything I do is about getting out of this situation (and having had a nervous breakdown, that also limits me in other ways), there is no respite from the pain where I can have an afternoon of fun. It doesn't work like that when this is what you are enduring, or trying to endure. It's just not like that, it's not possible. But we wouldn't be closer if we saw each other. For many people, their friends are glorified activity partners. Emma's not the kind of person who can or would have that. She's a communicator, loyal, so her good relationships will last and not be broken over barriers that other friendships, such as they are, might be. But that is where she is for this week, so I will not really be contacting her--which would ordinarily be us texting, like when she's at Rhode Island or wherever--because I do not want to intrude upon that time.
Anthony lives in South Boston, and she went to visit him last week. We were at Starbucks, as we often are--it's where we hung out for the first ever time, and where we nip down to for important conversations (e.g., "Colin, can you help me with my story at the Starbucks?")--and she asked me to walk her to the train station because she was going to see Anthony. I said of course I would, so we go to Haymarket, I take her downstairs, to make sure she's all set, gets her ticket, then I touched the top of her head, lightly, with the tips of my index and middle fingers, as if to say, "Okay, nice seeing you, off you go, have a good time," but this is not quite how things work with Emma, as Emma is a hugger. I am not.
Now, the person I describe above, whom I've not met? When I meet her, and we are together, we can do lots of the hugging. That I'm all on board with. But other people? I think, "unhand me!" I don't like it. I'm not into it. You can be my family, my oldest friends, and I'd rather we didn't. But: I give you a generous array of hug-replacement options! For instance we can:
1. Exchange a firm handshake. Very firm. Or I will respect you less.
2. Provide each other with a friendly wave, or, a half-wave. (Some have said that the half-wave allows for more time for the creation of art, or more energy for the climbing of obelisks. I am not saying I am one of these people. I'm just saying it's a popular theory.)
3. Give each other a knowing nod.
Emma refuses to allow this, or select any one of numbers 1-3, so I have been compelled to make an Emma-based exception, but other people should not start getting ideas!
I began to take my leave, and there she is, dangling upwards--she dangles upwards--and what am I going to do?
So, I reach down, give her a one armed hug--I was holding a coffee in my right hand--and she jumps back after, all excited, saying, "You're doing much better now! You're getting better! I taught you this!"
If I was someone at this point who could have their days made, that would have made mine.
So. All kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice, at least not for me, when it comes to this one person.