101 years old. It’s Birthday Time.

This Monday marked the seventh year that Ian and I have visited the grave on his birthday, exactly a week before mine, 5 days after my sister’s, and the same week as L’s and K’s. F Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24th, 1896, and Jason, Ian, (and a series of girl/friends), and I have visited almost every year on this day since college started.

F Scott Fitzgerald’s gravestone

Sometimes tradition is who you are, sometimes it’s who you were… but it always brings you to that place somewhere in between. It’s like how when you visit family it’s easy to regress to childhood roles. Hanging out with Ian, reading This Side of Paradise aloud, it was so easy to dip in and out of college and the nostalgia of those days.

The dance scene that we belonged to, that I still frequent, has changed a great deal (no more late night diners, no more Hollywood vs Savoy). Jason’s an attorney in Atlanta, I’m doing too many things, and Ian’s, well, still hoping to meet that foreign language requirement at Maryland… But when it comes to the grave and the week of birthdays, it’s more about looking back than looking forward, or at least trying to reconcile the two.

I’m not the same ebulliently happy person I tried to be back then. But I still question things in much the same way that Ian, Jason, and I would do late at night at school. F Scott’s writing is just as poignant and applicable.

This time last year I was somewhat complacent. Now is a time when many things are starting, when there’s no settling, when I’m about to get busier than I want to. I’m not fully contented, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that you can’t choose the timing for when things are going to heat up. Well, here’s to the next year, and to getting a little rest before it starts.

The last light fades and drifts across the land — the low, long land, the sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down the long corridors of trees; pale firs echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour.

F Scott Fitzgerald, at 23 years old, in This Side of Paradise


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