There is a new movie coming out with Leonardo DiCaprio, an adaptation of the Great Gatsby. A novel I feel a weird connection to because like Fitzgerald I too went to Princeton and saw the decadence of the very rich. A world behind closed gates, a world of cooks and servants a world so apart from my own I'd though it was make belief had I not seen it with my own two eyes.
Seeing it, I felt like a voyeur, peeking indiscreetly into someone else's intimate affairs. And in many ways that is what the novel Gatsby is about. I read it in high school and I barely remember reading it, I think I probably gave up on it and watched the film at some point. I think this book is incredibly important because it truly chronicles an important period in America's life, but it can be hard to digest as a teenager. You read about love and obsession like space travel as something interesting that has no connection to you, something that you will probably not do -- a teenager is too young to understand. But as an adult one can get the emptiness of achievement and that deep longing to recapture a past, a moment, an instant lost to the smoky remembrances of the past. And one can be so seduced by these desires by this nostalgic entrapments, as to get pulled into it. I think of the times I foolishly failed to do something with a girl that in retrospect really liked me, or things that I didn't understand, opportunities I missed, it is like the perfect kiss you'll never have and the girls in your mind more beautiful than they really were. Now as an adult, I understand Gatsby, the mastery of the novel, the blinding enchantment of the times.
Next week is my 15th class reunion in Princeton. I have made no plans to go, though in the back of my mind there is a desire to go. The fair fields, the people playing tennis the rich students, the poor students now liberated from the crushing student loans I had to content with when I was there, it seems a world of make belief, a world of faux accomplishment, smoke and strange traditions. But my memories are as distorted as Gatsby's were of his precious love.