While Visiting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Grave
Several summers ago, I asked my boyfriend to drive me 230 miles to visit another man’s grave—someone I’ve never even met.
“Whose?” he asked. “And why?”
I then explained for several minutes that I spent most of my time that year reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, from The Great Gatsby to The Beautiful and Damned to “May Day,” and I had to pay my respects because the man was obviously a genius and he changed my life.
“Ok,” my boyfriend said, “but only if we visit D.C. while we are down there.”
And so we went. I was afraid my excitement would be rude—I mean, what kind of person goes to a cemetery giddy with excitement, searching feverishly for a tombstone, and then shouts “Here it is!” when she finds it? But I did. And while standing over the dusty tombstone, which was littered with dead flowers, pennies, and candle stumps, I cried, because I knew this would be the closest I would ever be to him in this lifetime. And when we went to a nearby florist to pick out flowers to leave on his grave, the owner, a small, white-haired woman, smiled at us.
“Maybe I can help,” she offered as my (ever so patient) boyfriend and I eyed the selection carefully. “Who are the flowers for? What occasion?”
“They’re for F. Scott Fitzgerald,” I said. “I love him.”
For a moment, her smile faltered, and she looked at me like I was insane. “Oh,” she said, “well, I’m sure he will love anything you pick.”
“I guess you’re right,” I said.