Hemingway, to a friend in 1950:
If you are lucky to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is moveable feast.
I’m too old, now, to go anywhere and have it be said I’m a young woman. But I feel a bit similarly about NYC to Hemingway on France, or at least I suspect that in retrospect these challenging early months in NYC will tug on my heart strings in ways Paris did for Hemingway years later.
I’ve been dabbling in A Moveable Feast, most notably today when my flight was delayed three hours, my seatmate spoke only Danish, and I grew too fearful of slipping my phone number to the cute guy I chatted with at the gate to do much else other than read. This early passage rang especially true of time thus-far in my new home, not just in my writing but also in just getting up in the morning to face “more”:
I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence and go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.
I’ve never especially liked Hemingway — for shame! egads! — or at least not as much as I liked Faulkner or Fitzgerald, but this book came recommended by someone knowing more than most what I’m trying to make of myself in this world. Thirty pages into it, I can see why. Because sometimes, one true sentence is all anyone has, especially those of us with little more than the bold truth staring us in the face every morning.