I stumbled upon Ernest Hemingway as a seventeen year old. Late at night, undercover and under the covers, I devoured the three books I’d been secretly gifted with reverance usually reserved for seforim. I imagined myself in tropical sea scenes, snow-covered chalets in Europe or strolling next to the Seine arm in arm with a dashing lover.
When I came across a Hemingway quote while looking up something entirely unrelated (thanks, Google), my heart lept into my throat and memories of who I was at the time rushed over me. I was in the bedroom again. I can picture my sheets and furniture and water next to my bed. I remember the loneliness of that time, the sadness and introspection I lived in.
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
It’s not a profound existential quote, but when I read it I felt both sad and happy. I was 33 years old before I tried my first oyster (love them now). I’ve strolled along the Seine, white river rafted and climbed mountains… All in my 30s. There was a large amount of time which wasn’t mine, and I feel frustrated by that.
I’m equally happy that I’m doing this now. Walking down a Manhattan street recently and taking in the rankness and opportunity in the air… Perhaps youth is a moveable feast?