I want to feel the tingle when the era romances me. I don’t want to find it in a book, but I want to fall into it one day, find some kind of secret door that takes me there, like a wardrobe takes children to Narnia. I want to be blinded by the rose-colored buildings on the French Riviera. I want to fight my hips a little before giving into the swing music. I want the melody to be nearly hushed by Hemingway’s cursing that the booze only makes louder. I want to look to see what annoys him so and find Zelda Fitzgerald doing something half mental, half charming from inside her drop-waisted dress. I can’t wait to hear what she spouts back at the gifted lush with her muttled southern accent that perfumes the room in both Alabama and Carolina drawls. I want to see F. Scott in the corner shaking his head at himself more than her. For he is the one who chose her, because he is addicted to her more than anything else.
When back to the homeland I want to buy liquor fresh off a smuggler’s wagon. I want the driver of the wagon to have an accent like Al Capone, and vanish like an apparition as soon as the whiskey bottle touches my lace-gloved hand. I’ll throw some back with the brown paper bag still wrapped around the bottle, and wink at the police officer across the way after I do it. I think I’ll like prohibition actually, because it will give me a reason to be scandolous.
I will only want to stay for a second, though, in this era that draws me like a fly to honey. I have to know how fleeting it was myself to get the full effect…that lost generation. It just teetered on the edge of things it couldn’t get enough of…maybe because enough was too much, and killed everyone off who wanted it. Maybe that’s why the generation of poets, artists, musicians, and novelists were know as the lost ones…I never fully will understand that though. Their influences haunt me so.
I like to believe because I am from Asheville, North Carolina, that somewhere in the 20s, maybe when the Fitzgeralds were stumbling out of a fancy restaurant a little too drunk for a classy joint, Zelda brushed the arm of my great-grandmother, who was walking home with an armful of groceries. Maybe something, some particle of the magic fell onto my ancestor, that was carried through the wombs of the women before me until it embedded in my skin. Now it is soaked in, and I can’t get it out. I understand something about it, and breathe it a little bit. That lost generation is somewhere, and I’m thinking maybe, it’s somewhere inside me. The lost, they are still roaring indeed.