Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dealing With a Personal Apocalypse

By Rex Hurst

In December of 1922 Ernest Hemingway was in Switzerland covering the Lausanne Peace Conference for a Canadian Newspaper. While there he met with an editor who liked his material and requested to see more. Hemingway cabled his wife in Paris to come immediately and bring all of his stories. With admirable thoroughness his wife complied, scooping up all of his work, including the carbon copies, and went down to the station to hop a train. She settled into a berth then, before the train left, went to buy a bottle of water on the platform. When she returned the suitcase was gone.

It was never recovered. The whole of his literary work went up in smoke. How did the world look to Hemingway when he found out? This is a personal apocalypse which is nearly impossible to put into words. Can you imagine? Can you relate?

Yes I can.

At the end of June I was on vacation. The plan was to go down to Florida for a little family reunion with my mom, brother, and his five kids - a direct flight from Charlotte to Florida. I had packed two bags for the trip. A big one, which contained all of my clothes, and a smaller carry-on in which I stowed a couple of books, some candy, personal toiletries, and the handwritten draft of the book I was working on. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

I woke up late and had to rush up to Charlotte, skipping breakfast. It took about an hour and a half. I opted to leave my car in one of the long-term lots and ran to a kiosk to wait for the airport shuttle. As I’m waiting, my phone rings, so I put my bags down to answer. It’s my mother, making sure that I had arrived on time. As I’m talking to her the shuttle arrives and I get on taking only the large bag. It wasn’t until I was physically getting onto the plane that I realized the smaller one was missing.

The material lost was about 140 pages, around 6 chapters, totaling 4 months work. I called the airport lost and found, but nothing had been turned in. During the entire vacation I had stress dreams about the bag. Like Tantalus’s grapes, it floated in front of me and zipped away when I tried to grab it. Once I realized that all hope was gone, depression crashed over me and I probably became the worst houseguest my brother had ever had, not wanting to do anything or even leave the bedroom.

So what does a person do? 1. I had to put aside all work on the book for now, I can’t even look at it without becoming depressed. 2. Store up the feelings and squirrel it away for use in some other work. Everything can be material. You never know when it might come in handy- such as in writing this blog.


1 comment:

Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

Computer. Write on a compyoooteer.