The grounds of the school are shared by an old church, built in 1817. It's a beautiful church, gilded and charming and musty with history. The church's graveyard is the final resting place of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his beloved muse Zelda. It's says something, I think, of the atmosphere of the school and the myopic education I received there, that this fact was never once a topic of trivia, let alone discussion.
I didn't find out about the cemetery's famous resident until I went to high school and read Fitzgerald's most famous work, The Great Gatsby, for the first time. This being a public school they weren't as concerned with nitpicky details like Fitzgerald's non-practicing Catholic status when he died, and thus must have determined it less risky to our immortal souls to know that he'd been buried in Catholic ground after all.
From the ages of 17 to 24 myself and a few friends became unofficial grave side fanbois of F & Z's graves. Hey, Baltimore has Poe, Rockville has the Fitzgeralds.
We thought ourselves rebel poets, full of courage won of wine coolers and Funyuns, we'd boldly trespass amongst the dead, bearing roses from 7-11 as homage to our heroes. One of my friends liked to play music for the couple as we sat at gravesend. He'd engage us in debate over which bands the Fitzgerald's might have liked best were they our peers in the 90s. He seemed convinced that Fitzy (as we called him), would have loved Grunge. This was an assertion that despite his claims to the contrary, confirmed my suspicion that he'd never read any of Fitzgerald's books. Personally I've always thought Bryan Ferry and Ziggy Stardust might have been more up F's alley. But what do I know?
The epitaph on F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave is the last line from Gatsby. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
It's part of a larger passage:
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
It means that we are ever moving forward, yearning for and fighting towards our goals. Yet our pasts are in our way, simultaneously informing our dream, and obstructing it.
I can relate to this sentiment. I've been a little nostalgic of late. It's been nostalgia born of duress really. See, I've been saddled with a new endeavor this year. I'm writing a novel. I don't know if it will be published. I don't know if I'll even pursue that outcome. That's not the point. What I do know is that after two years of trying to smoke out the muse of writing where she hides in ratholes in my studio walls, I've failed to locate or kill her. She's won, and so I'm writing this blasted thing. Against all my protestations she's made it clear I have no choice.
She's a brutal mistress this wordy bitch. In the two years she's been pursuing my soul she's repeatedly accosted me with writing assignments just to drive her point home. Again and again I've protested, insisting I'm an artist not a writer. "I've never written! I've never even had ambition to write!" has come out of my mouth more then once.
As it turns out I'm a dirty liar. Moving across the country tends to cause the carefully stacked debris of a creative life to come tumbling down from shelves. Actual documents obtained from the archives of Ghost-Of-Brigid-Past confirm that in fact, I have indeed always written. There's boxes full of evidence. A lot of what's in those boxes sucks eggs. But there's also a reminder from a teacher that I won a national writing award in High School. Apparently I also blogged for a couple of websites back in the day (97 & 2000 respectively, before it was called blogging), and even had some poetry published.
Huh, who knew?
The muse has won. I've got Scrivener installed on my Mac.....
So...from the ages of 38 to ? I'll be writing a book. I'm terrified. Scared and sniffly, I'm slowly getting type on the pages. I don't promise that it's good, I don't know if it's interesting, I guarantee it's a grammatical nightmare. But there it is, emerging from the blank white of the page, not unlike a painting.
Can I paint with words? We'll see....