I have always been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I feel that because we are all exposed to his The Great Gatsby in high school, it is easy to find him stale, overrated, and repetitious. However, it has always been the repetitive theme of his novels and short stories that draw me back. Most of his books begin with an introduction explaining why Fitzgerald wrote this particular novel — as in, what particular life event occurred in order for this one to be written.
Majority of the short stories and novels echo his marriage to Zelda Fitzgerald. And I think that is why I find myself attracted to his writing.
While Scott suffered from alcoholism, Zelda suffered with Bipolar Disorder. (According to most historians, she was initially misdiagnosed as having Schizophrenia.) There is something incredibly heartbreaking, yet all the while fascinating, about his interpretation of her mood swings from mania to depression and depression to mania. Take for instance his book Tender Is the Night. Fitzgerald writes of expressing his affections for someone else younger than he, while creating small pockets throughout the book to introduce his wife’s deteriorating mental health. I was confused and I feel that helped me see his confusion, too. His infidelity cannot be justified in any of this, and I think (/hope) that he began to see how his actions did not help.
Reading through Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald only confirmed the reality of Tender Is the Night for me. Her version of events — her own honesty and recklessness added to the story — brought everything full circle. I think what I am trying to say or ask is this: How often do we take the tragedies of our own lives and feel like it can only make sense when sentences are strung together or a picture is painted?
Currently, I find myself in the heartache of watching someone I love so much walk through the darkest valley. I’m tiptoeing behind him, praying and hoping for him and with him. I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, laying aside the alcoholism and bad judgment, and I see a human loving a hurting human. How heartbreaking that ache must have been.
I have read his words many times in his books, and have read Zelda’s loosely biographical story, only to conclude that love is deep and wide and hard and heavy and, my God, it is looking someone in the eye and saying, “Hey. No matter what, it’s going to be OK. OK?”
And my heart kind of squeaks along in the reality knowing it’s going to be hard, but in the end … OK.