There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I've heard it said that "Love is blind," but it's taken me years to fully realize the depth of that short aphorism.
Love can lead you blindly into a situation you normally would be able to judge safely. Love can blind you to reality.
Jay and I were both blind, at some point. Jay was blinded by love. He told me he didn't care about everything else in life, that I was all he cared about; if that was true, then he was blind to all the other good things in life.
Me? I was blind to love itself. I didn't appreciate the rarity of true love, the kind you might only find once in a lifetime. I thought Jay could let go of me as easily as I let go of him – that's not to say it was easy for me, I did miss him both before and during my marriage, but I felt I had moved on.
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
I've always thought that summer has a kind of dream-like quality. Its days are long and drawn out, but they slip away faster than you want them to.
I had two summers with Jay: in 1917, and in 1922.
The first time, I knew it wouldn't last, not forever. I knew my family wouldn't accept him – that was a good built-in excuse, my family's lack of acceptance rather than my own. I made a point of telling him that I did love him, and it wasn't that I didn't want to be with him, I just couldn't. And I thought he understood.
We made all kinds of promises. He swore he'd never love another woman. I vowed to wait for him until he came home from the Great War. I think we both knew that if he fought in the war, then he would be someone I could be proud of. I could say that my beau was fighting for his country.
I imagined that Jay would return, proud and strong and fresh from the war, having proved he was worthy of me. I was the princess and he was the lowly knight; but he would come back for me.
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted
"Ain't We Got Fun." I had heard that song once or twice before, but I never understood it until I heard Ewing Klipspringer play it on the piano in Jay's West Egg mansion. For a moment I wondered if Jay had chosen it on purpose, to a prove a point to me.
I couldn't believe he had spent almost half of his life preparing to see me again.
I was touched. I doubted that Tom ever loved me enough to go to such great lengths as Jay had.
And just seeing Jay stirred up so many old, sweet, heart-wrenching memories. For a moment, I did believe that the past could become the future.
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
I've never told anyone, of course, but sometimes, I feel ashamed. I don't know why. What do I have to be ashamed of? How I felt? What I did? What I didn't do? Who am I more ashamed of hurting, Jay or Tom?
Somehow, I have a strange feeling that Nick blames me. That's why he hasn't had contact with us since we left East Egg.
I still see Jordan sometimes, but we're not really friends anymore. She felt awkward around us, and she was a painful reminder to Tom and myself of that sad summer. I can't figure out whether or not she blames me.
I blame myself for being indecisive and letting Jay think that it could actually happen, that we could be together.
I blame Jay for asking so much of me. He wanted to pack up my whole life to be with him (while he had built up his whole life for me). He didn't seem to realize just how much could change in five years.
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
People say I'm careless. Maybe they're right. But it's not that I don't care; I care very deeply about some people, and Jay Gatsby was one of them. I'm just not as graceful as I usually am, when it comes to making decisions and facing consequences.
At some point, I did mean to leave behind Tom and move in with Jay.
Maybe I'm a coward. The only things that Jay had and I didn't, were courage and determination.
Maybe I was pessimistic – a direct contrast to Gatsby's hope and optimism – but I had something that Jay lacked: realism. He couldn't accept the circumstances of the present, choosing instead to try to live in the past.
What was the right thing for me to do? Would it be selfish of me, to leave my husband and child for an old beau? What would have become of Pammy? Maybe she would grow up to be just like me – a beautiful fool. Another aphorism: "Be careful what you wish for."
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I swore I would never tell Pammy about Jay Gatsby. Why should I? There was no need to distress her with the ugly truth.
But when she started to get older, and boys and men started falling for her, I decided to tell her just part of it – how I had known Jay and loved him, but had to let him go. All I did was disillusion her before life did.
I don't want her to get hurt, or hurt anyone, the way I have.
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.
Author's Note: I think the song "I Dreamed A Dream" better describes Gatsby's dream of being with Daisy; but it's sung from a woman's point of view, and I wanted to examine Daisy's character. When I read The Great Gatsby for English this year (as part of our unit on "The Disillusionment of the American Dream"), I felt bad for Daisy, and frankly I thought that Gatsby was asking too much of her. The reader is supposed to not like her, but I don't think she's bad at heart; at least she's more likable than Tom. Please, let me know what you think!