Metaphorical Hot Springs

Not only did I find a place to get laptop mellow, but the same place also happens to have a black and white cookie that is done right. On top of this, they have chai — good chai. Goodbye, suburbs. You are convenient when I need Tupperware and assorted garden items from your dizzying array of box stores, and I do love your peaceful bike trails, but we need some time apart to make this work. Finally, yesterday, on my day of birth, I reignited my love affair with public transportation. I am the proud owner of a Smartrip card, allowing me to park and ride my way through the District of Columbia with ease. I hop on in the suburbs and about thirty minutes later, I exit into the vibrant pulse of the city streets. It’s like magic.

I’m sitting now in a hip little coffee house, basking in the city glow. However, this post isn’t about my beginning adventures into the city, but rather about epicenters of powerful energy. There are certain points in the world that exude a spirit with the ability to dance in time with the sacred mantra, Om. They’re kind of like metaphorical hot springs. It isn’t incredibly hard to find these points amidst a lively city or out in nature, but to find one unexpectedly in the middle of an area of stagnant soul is a true treasure. Adjacent to a busy strip of asphalt, and surrounded by a lack of true scenery, rests one of these trembling points of energy in my very own suburb, and no one would even know it. Today, I went to visit it, hoping it might give me the spark my gas stove of creativity needs to ignite.

DSCN2096Resting outside of the Original Parish Church of St. Mary’s lie F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda Sayre — masters of language with lives tossed and tumbled through endless adventure, extraordinary love, and crippling pain. Their lives did not exist within the box, but rather drawn in and out and all across all of the lines, lightly dusted with mental illness and passion. I find the idea of their exciting, yet tragic story romantic. The words they both wrote and the stories that created their lives ring with true emotion. Good writing inspires me. It makes me try to find a way into the mind of the author, to see the actual actions they experienced that resulted in their feelings, perceptions, metaphors, and adjectives.

Serendipitously, I stumbled upon an intriguing F. Scott Fitzgerald compilation the night before, while I was exploring a small bookstore in Dupont Circle. It is titled On Booze and contains a collection of Fitzgerald’s best drinking stories, chronicling his on the edge, and often over the edge, relationship with alcohol. I brought this little book of stories with me to the gravesite of Fitzgerald and Zelda. Under the hot sun, I opened the book to a section of stories related to their relationship, and I read one from the summer of 1934.

We are married. The Sibylline parrots are protesting the sway of the first bobbed heads in the Biltmore panelled luxe. The hotel is trying to look older.
The faded rose corridors of the Commodore end in subways and subterranean metropolises—a man sold us a broken Marmon and a wild burst of friends spent half an hour revolving in the revolving door.
There were lilacs open to the dawn near the boarding house in Westport where we sat up all night to finish a story. We quarreled in the gray morning dew about morals; and made up over a red bathing suit.
The Manhattan took us in one late night though we looked very young and gay. Ungratefully we packed the empty suitcase with spoons and the phone book and a big square pin-cushion.
The Traymore room was gray and the chaise longue big enough for a courtesan. The sound of the sea kept us awake.
Electric fans blew the smell of peaches and hot biscuit and the cindery aroma of travelling salesmen through the New Willard halls in Washington.
But the Richmond hotel had a marble stair and long unopened rooms and marble statues of the gods lost somewhere in its echoing cells.
At the O. Henry in Greensville they thought a man and his wife ought not to be dressed alike in white knickerbockers in nineteen-twenty and we thought the water in the tubs ought not to run red mud.
Next day the summer whine of phonographs billowed out the skirts of the southern girls in Athens. There were so many smells in the drug store and so much organdy and so many people just going somewhere … We left at dawn.

I lifted my gaze and tried to imagine what my surroundings looked like and felt like during Fitzgerald’s lifetime. I imagined Zelda prancing around in eclectic styles, the two of them racing off to endless fabulous parties, soaking in the youth of life. The edges of my surroundings became less clear in this vision; they began to blend and smear, becoming an arcane composition of cursive written manuscripts and piled creative endeavors intended to fill in the holes. Fitzgerald’s words were so eloquently quilted. I could see every one of them. My heart swooned for them both, as I looked at their headstone, which was inscribed with the last line of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Standing at this point, my mind felt engaged and delighted and my being felt peaceful and calm. I stood, grounded, on this humming site of knowledge, creativity, legend, heartache, imagination, connection, and prose. I could feel the sweat begin to form on my face, as I stood soaking it all in, wrapped in the air’s heat. I want to write a book, something that might touch someone, but what? Maybe I will continue to make pilgrimages to this site and maybe eventually something will click and I’ll know how to make the energy attained from this location workable. If anything, at this point I know that Fitzgerald’s work was so moving because it was largely based deep within experiences. And I think that’s basically the reason why I’m out here now; I’m adding experiences to my library to draw upon when the time is ripe.


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