There is an article in the last issue of Vanity Fair about Hemmingway’s letters, which includes a few from a forthcoming collection. I found this more interesting than I might normally have, because I recently finished a novel about his first wife, Hadley, called The Paris Wife.
One sentence in a letter to his mother in 1922 particularly caught my attention. He wrote “Paris...satisfies something in you that is always hungry in America”, in explaining why he wanted to live there.
These words express something that I have not been able to put into words about living in Europe. (They also work with reading rather than watching television, since the former is more satisfying.)
I cannot explain, but there is something about living and traveling in Europe that feels different than the United States or other parts of the world. As much as I like Asia, I would not want to live there. And, travel feels different. The sensations of crossing the Alps and descending into Italy, for example, is different than crossing from New York into New Jersey, and not merely because of topography. To take the night sleeper to Bordeaux and peer out the window at first light at vineyards cannot be replicated anywhere. To enjoy an opera in the ancient Roman coliseum in Verona is the only way to experience such culture. The list goes on...
I imagine that few even know that they are “hungry” and most are not, because they have never been away or are too easily satisfied with their lot. Discontent is impossible without an actual comparison; imagining does not work, even for those clever enough to try. I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it is certainly better than being dissatisfied with life.
I feel fortunate to have fulfilled my hunger...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.