I first encountered Ernest Heming way in my sophomore year of high school where he swept me of my feet like his archetypal Code Hero. His terse but detailed prose embedded shrapnel into the stone resolve I held against American literature and wore away at it until it crumbled to ruin. To this day he is one of my favorite writers. Even more so since I read about his time in Paris - the city of lights and the setting of my traveling dreams.

An expatriate of the United States, picking up and moving to Paris, Hemingway integrated himself into the group of artists dubbed the Lost Generation. Lost because they were endlessly searching for something: inspiration, creativity, culture, freedom. For Heming way, he was looking for something authentic and real. Paris showed him what was grand and magical (but not always real), which he contrasted with the realness of his writing. But don't think I'm an expert on Hemingway. His memoir: A Moveable Feast (about his time in Paris) afforded me knowledge on his life during that time and how he grew up, becoming disillusioned and the modernist we know him as today.

"People who interfered in your life always did it for your own good and I figured out finally that what they wanted was for you to conform completely and never differ from some accepted surface standard and then dissipate the way traveling salesmen would at a convention in every stupid and boreing way."

Being surrounded and consumed by the rich expatriates he said he would never be like, Hemingway ended relationships in order to help distinguish himself as a writer. But these profitable relationships with the rich and their connections didn't represent the truth he was striving for. Not everyone is going to be looking our for your best interests. Half of them may not even be thinking of you at all. And, even though as young adults or kids we want to believe that everyone is good and not out to hurt us, that isn't always the case.

"Nobody climbs on skis now and almost everybody breaks their legs but maybe it is easier in the end to break your legs than to break your heart although they say everything breaks now and that sometimes, afterwards, many are stronger at the broken places."

We lose friends, those who we are close to, and it takes time to heal the hurt that comes with the truth. When you find out that someone no longer cares for you, or never did, it doesn't heal with an x-ray, cast, and bed rest. Broken legs mend, broken plans can be remade, broken plates can be glued back together, even broken governments can be reformed. These are all relatively easy to repair, unlike someone's heart, someone's mind, someone's spirit. The pain in those culminate into an ache that may never go away, but can only be dulled with time and appreciating the experience for having grown from it.

"But then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good, you could only fill it with something better."

After you've taken the broken pieces and made them stronger, and you've become disillusioned by the scars left behind, and you've removed the toxic people from your life, emptiness inevitably finds itself alongside the scars. Another part of discovering that everything has the potential to hurt you is that everything does hurt you in one way or another. Whether it's from loss or anger and regret, the good memories hurt just as much as the bad.

Hemingway's time in Paris was magical. How could it not be? It's Paris. But it was also a complicated phase of his life where additional disillusionment, not of war but of people, dawned on him and made him into the modernist we know him as today. I recommend his memoir A Moveable Feast (the restored addition) to anyone who is a little lost and trying to find their way.

Published by Anne Long