Always, There is a Woman

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When I was younger, if I found an author I enjoyed, I would begin by reading his first novel and then each in succession until I had read the entire work. (Fortunately, or maybe not, particularly prolific authors, like, say, Shakespeare, never caught my eye.)

I had given up this kind of focus and diligence when I discovered Hemingway. I’d had to read The Old Man and the Sea in high school, and I basically closed the book, turned my head to the side and said, “Scott, darling, I’m all yours.” Mr. Fitzgerald kept me company for a long time after. But on a summer vacation, beneath the rustle and smell of pines, I read For Whom the Bell Tolls while my children hiked alone on a well-known mountain. I was captivated by his language and his energy.

I read more of his books, but not all and certainly not in order. I was past that by then. Then, a few years ago, I read and reread all of Hemingway’s novels from start to finish in an effort to discover if men love as intensely as women.  I figured that if a man as committed to machismo as Mr. Hemingway could show me the tenderness of his heart and the helplessness of being in love, that it could be true.

I’ve had this conversation with a few men in the last couple of years.  Their familiarity with Hemingway varied, but each replied in his own way, “More.” The outward signs being so few, I found this hard to believe.  Though Hemingway had convinced me of men’s ability to love with intensity, I have lots of dog-earred pages marking clues of the differences.

I was reminded of this this morning as I read Nicos Anastasiades, the president of Cyprus’s, words, “Always, there is a woman,” as he spoke to the press about the hijacking of an Egyptian plane.  While I am sympathetic to the passengers and Mr. Mustafa’s mental and emotional state, the story of this man making such a large gesture for the love of his wife was a small dose of elixir for my skeptical heart.

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13 thoughts on “Always, There is a Woman

  1. Generalizations are dangerous, but I’ll make one anyway, based on what a man told me once. He said that many men don’t understand how to ride the wave of feeling and emotion and so block or deflect their feelings. It seemed to ring true to me, and I’ve tried to keep it in mind. My own husband’s tendency is to pull away rather than confront–something we’ve worked on together, since I am the opposite. Interesting post, BTW.

    1. I think getting that perspective was impressive in and of itself. I had someone tell me once that I was basing my expectations on movies and books and that real life simply isn’t like that. But what I’ve found being around more creative people (both more people who are creative and people who live more creatively) is that this crew does express themselves more openly. It’s been an interested piece of the puzzle.

  2. Hi Patricia,
    Fitzgerald is still one of my favorite authors of all time.
    As for men and their depth of love, in my own experience, there seems to be some truth to the Mars vs Venus concept. It seems to be in the ways men express (or don’t) their emotions.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Featuring Artist Scott McBee

  3. Well, after having read the article, I’m not quite sure Mr. Mustafa’s motives could be compared to the heroes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but I loved the phrase, “Always there’s a woman”. I, too, read all of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, along with Sinclair Lewis, while in high school, for my own pleasure. Those characters and authors have traveled with me through this wonderful adventure called life.

      1. There’s a great piece by Tim Kreider, “The Creature Walks Among Us” about coming undone over love. In it is a line, “We’ve all worn the diaper,” which I think of every time I read a story like this. I’m careful not to judge.

  4. Sadly, it seems a lot of men are either embarrassed to show their emotions or, worse yet, fearful about letting their guard down. (I don’t know; maybe they’ve been burned one too many times.)

    And yet, those same men can clutch your heart with beautiful music and lyrics, unashamed when they sing.

    Always interesting, always a joy….just watch one of them eat an ice cream cone and they’re 7 years old again in my eyes.

  5. I thought about this for several days. I’m reminded of the advice that “women can have it all, just not at the same time” to explain the biological push to the career pull. I have had three husbands, but married only once. We’ve been married 42 years. The first years were US, the next 38 were career and family, and now my husband—who retired in December—is rediscovering himself. For years I’ve been buying him books to read “when he has time”. And now he does. There is a dear, sweetness to him as he has laid down the need to make money for our future. Our future is now. So as we watch movies, talk about the books we’re reading, even discussing well written sports stories, it’s back to US.

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