Tag Archives: gatsby

A Bookish Love Story

T+E

T+E

5 years ago, I met this guy. I had just gotten out of a semi-serious and seriously burdensome long-distance relationship. I had just transferred to a new school in a new city in which I knew exactly one person. I was almost 20, and I had no intention of doing anything less than what my mom would call “dating around.”

And then, mere weeks after I move to Nashville, I meet this guy. And he is interesting and uncomplicated, and he’s flirting with me. Our first spark is a mutual obsession with The Lord of the Rings. He’s tall and good-looking, and now he’s wearing glasses and sipping whiskey and talking about Tolkien? How can I not?

As I get to know him over the cold months of 2008, I learn he’s the storyteller among his friends, who all love him fiercely, and that he also happens to be an extremely talented musician. I begin to fall.

Spring comes, and we are together. The world goes a little hazy, falls away. We are sharing our lives – our friends, our passions, our secrets, our time. And we read to each other. We do many things together, but he reads books that I have read, and I am in love.

Years pass. We share many, many highs and quite a few lows too; we are together under every sky, through every season. Then one winter day almost a year ago, he gets down on one knee and puts a ring on my finger – a Jazz Age antique. It is clearer than ever that we are meant to be.

We plan a wedding, but not just any wedding… our wedding. It must have music and books, scotch and flapper dresses. It is perfect. And then, life.

Today, Tyler and I celebrate five years together. I haven’t posted any wedding/honeymoon photos yet, so I thought it was an appropriate day to start. Below are some of the bookish details featured in our wedding…

one of our engagement shots

an engagement shot

the last line says, "20s inspired attire"

the last line: “20s inspired attire”

songs from the Downton Abbey, Finding Neverland, Pride and Prejudice, and Fellowship of the Ring soundtracks

songs from the Downton Abbey, Finding Neverland, Pride and Prejudice, and Fellowship of the Ring soundtracks; readings from E.E. Cummings and Shakespeare

designed by incredible bridesmaid/graphic designer Candie Walter as a wedding gift

poster by incredible bridesmaid/graphic designer Candie Walter

Tolkien quote on the favor cards

Tolkien quote on the favor cards

typewriter guestbook

typewriter guestbook

rings stored in a Fellowship of the Ring book safe

rings stored in a Fellowship of the Ring book safe

Lord of the Rings book cake

Lord of the Rings book cake

books on every table

books on every table

cameras, hourglasses, pearls, teacups, wine bottles, book ends, too

cameras, hourglasses, pearls, teacups, wine bottles, book ends, too

pinwheels from pages of Pride and Prejudice for every vase

pinwheels from pages of Pride and Prejudice for every vase

decorative paper pinwheel display

decorative paper pinwheel display

pinwheel display on the mantel

pinwheels on the mantel

dictionary page, eucalyptus, and lace boutonnieres

dictionary page, eucalyptus, and lace boutonnieres

paper bouquets

paper bouquets

many paper bouquets

many paper bouquets

sheet music paper bouquet

sheet music

flapper bridesmaids

flapper bridesmaids

book page and peacock feather fascinator

book page and peacock feather fascinator

earrings featuring quotes from A Midsummer Night's Dream

earrings featuring quotes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

killer wedding party

killer wedding party

Paper crafts by the bridesmaids and me.
Photos by the lovely Liz Hendrickson.
Paper goods by the fabulous Holley Maher.
Cake by Stephanie Felts of The Sweetest Day.
Flowers by Vicki Sanders of Branching Out.
Hair and makeup by Kelly Hamilton of Imagine Design Team.
Dress by Casablanca Bridal, from The White Room, Lebanon, TN.
Location: Hermitage Golf Course, Old Hickory, TN.

A Letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to His Daughter at Boarding School

f. scotty

I don’t really know why, but today I was reminded of a line of prose… no, not just reminded.  I was haunted by it.  It may have been the lovely cool fall weather that we’re having and the fact that my first real Fitzgerald season of life was a fall not too many years previous.  It could have been other ideas I had today that guided my thoughts to an old friend who loved Daisy, and particularly these words, so much.  Whatever it was, I found the phrases rolling around in my brain all day… like a song I knew a long time ago and can’t quite remember.  So I looked them up:

“‘Ah,’ she cried, ‘you look so cool.’
Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.
‘You always look so cool,’ she repeated.
She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw.”

– Chapter 7, The Great Gatsby

Spending only a few brief moments flipping through such an old favorite is truly an impossibility.  I used up an hour at least skimming and remembering, going back and forth, reading text as well as my annotations in the margins.  I was probably 15 when I made them.

As I was putting the book down, the pages settled on one where I glanced another quote that always drew me to it as well.  Daisy, again.

“I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

– Chapter 1, The Great Gatsby

Of course, beyond these few lines, there are a thousand reasons that Fitzgerald resonates with me… the poise of his language, his sharp, observant storytelling, the lovely characters in his works as memorable as real people and sometimes more so.  I was one of those that was happy to read his novels for senior English class, as they were on my own reading list.  I wrote two separate research papers on various aspects of his work.  I was drawn to the “Lost Generation” Jazz Age era anyway.  I loved discussing his poignancy in symbolism, the themes of youth and despair, acting out scenes we’d watched in the Redford/Farrow movie version.  But one bit of our studies stands out as more significant in my memory than the rest.  It was a letter… pieces of which were reprinted in our American literature books… a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter in boarding school.  I have copied here what I transcribed from my textbook back in high school:

These lines of advice are listed in a letter dated August 8, 1933.

“…halfwit, I will conclude with things to worry about: worry about courage, worry about cleanliness, worry about efficiency, worry about horsemanship….

“things not to worry about: don’t worry about public opinion, don’t worry about dolls, don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the future, don’t worry about growing up, don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you, don’t worry about triumph, don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault, don’t worry about mosquitoes, don’t worry about flies, don’t worry about insects in general, don’t worry about parents, don’t worry about boys, don’t worry about disappointments, don’t worry about pleasures, don’t worry about satisfactions….

“things to think about: what am I really aiming at? How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to: a) scholarship, b) do I really understand about people and am I trying to get along with them?, and c) am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?”

I just love that although this letter was written almost seventy years ago, all of its advice is still so relevant and appropriate for our lives.  I love FSF’s mix of silly and important, and his categorization of things that matter and things that don’t.  I need this posted in front of my desk, not buried in some ancient book of quotes and poetry.  I need to heed its sage words as much as his own daughter, it seems.

Elsewhere, in my short internet researches of the man himself, I found a few unrelated but interesting bits I’d also like to include:

an excerpt from Gatsby in Fitzgerald's own hand

The above section (click to enlarge) can be found just a page or two beyond the first quote I mentioned…, also in Chapter 7.  Below is Fitzgerald’s silver hip flask.

Zelda was of course to become his wife

The inscription says,

“To 1st Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald
65th Infantry
Camp Sheridan

Forget-me-not
Zelda
9-13-18
Montgomery, Ala.”

And last, a photograph of Zelda and Scott’s grave in Rockville, Maryland, inscribed with the final sentence of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

died at age 44

I, of course, highly recommend Fitzgerald’s novels as well as his abundant short stories, which for the most part are gathered conveniently into collections like Flappers and PhilosophersTales of the Jazz Age and Babylon Revisited and Other Stories.  Such fantastic classic works… do yourself a favor.