It’s been a month of deep crushes, crushes that couldn’t be resolved in requited love. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m reading works reviewed by Fresh Air contributor Maureen Corrigan, and this month the Carlsbad library contributed with her latest book on Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” called “So We Read On.” Sometimes Corrigan can be a little narcissistic in this book (“Look what I did!” is always a red flag for us Midwesterners), but the sheer amount of love for Fitzgerald and Gatsby lit me up like I used to be lit up at university. I would walk out of my literature classes at Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State) floating a little. The campus wasn’t naturally beautiful (the pretty campus in that area was College of the Ozarks, south of Branson and nearly on the Arkansas border), but I would read great stacks of books by Camus or Dostoyevsky or Austen or Melville and go into the classroom on a commonly-known bland canvas and walk out of the classroom into Disneyland. My heart on fire; after re-reading Gatsby, and reading Corrigan’s book, I felt like I got to go back to those classrooms for a little while, a fantastic vacation of the mind from the conservative, unimaginative desert that I live in. Summer on Long Island! Boats! Roadsters! Slinky 20’s dresses! And either Cole Porter or Jay-Z, depending on if you watch the Coppola version or the Baz Luhrmann version.
All of this was tuition-free, too; the Corrigan book was from the library and I had the rest of the materials already.
There is a general belief here: “Why do you need to escape San Diego? It’s beautiful here.” Maybe I feel this way about San Diego in parallel to the reasons Nick feels about New York; oh, yes, I can’t argue with the glory, but it ain’t my glory. My kind of glory isn’t plastic building blocks that lock together or captive killer whales or brewery after brewery. (Sadly, the only beer my body won’t reject is stout…a small portion of what’s concocted here.) Well, then, the argument returns, what about that beach, that ocean…with the rest of the millions and no shade? Ugh. I need forests, fog, tolerance, green methods of getting around. My sun, like Nick’s glitter, blinds and stupifies after prolonged exposure. I need my brain coaxed out of this bleached sand assault.