The world only exists in my eyes, I can make it as big or as small as I want. I'm not sure what I'll do. I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow, I want to live where things happen on a big scale and someday I want excitement; and I don't care what form it takes or what I pay for it, so long as it makes my heart beat. I'm going to find somebody and love her and love her and never let her go.
I looked at her the way all women want to be looked at by a man. It's hard to sit here and be close to her, and not kiss her. My heart beat faster and faster as her face came up to my own. When she saw my face, our eyes met and everything was all right, everything was wonderful, she knew I was beginning to fall in love with her. The helpless ecstasy of losing myself in her charm was a powerful opiate. So I waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then I kissed her. At my lips' touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
Beauty has got to be astonishing, astounding. It's got to burst in on you like a dream, like the exquisite eyes of a girl. She had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life, that understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that at your best you hoped to convey.
All she wanted was to be a little girl, to be efficiently taken care of by some yielding yet superior power, stupider and steadier than herself. She wanted to crawl into my pocket and be safe forever. We slipped briskly into an intimacy from which we never recovered. "Think how you love me, " she whispered, "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember that somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight. Let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me."
I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone and everything was gone. I was gone. My dream must have seemed so close that I could hardly fail to grasp it. I did not know that it was already behind me. Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away. The beauty of succulent illusions fell away from me. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.
I have traded the fight against love for the fight against loneliness, the fight against life for the fight against death. I am tired of knowing nothing and being reminded of it all of the time. Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes. I realized that what I was regretting was not the lost past, but the lost future, not what had not been, but what would never be. Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of us. The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.
Life is so damned hard, so damned hard. It just hurts people and hurts people, until finally it hurts them so that they can't be hurt any more. That's the last and worst thing it does. Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss. Everywhere we go and move on and change, something's lost, something's left behind.
Long ago there was something in me, but now it's gone. Now that thing is gone, it's gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will be back no more. All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don't come back. There's only one lesson to be learned from life...that there's no lesson to be learned from life.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Acknowledgments: F. Scott Fitzgerald.