You are on page 1of 4

August 14, 1922 All life is just a progression toward, and then recession from one phrase- I love

you. -F. Scott Fitzgerald (The off-shore pirate, Saturday Evening Post, 29 May, 1920) Dear Diary, Today, I didnt wake up with the same feeling of loneliness. I didnt have the same dream I had been having night after night. Memories flashing of us together on repeat. Its been three years since the war has ended and four years since I last saw him. And still not a day goes by that I dont think of him. I dont hear his name anymore; so every night before I go to sleep I repeated the words William M. Lawrence to myself lest I forget what it sounds like. Some days just the memories of endless nights of sneaking out to the movies watching one after another were enough to keep me up at night. It didnt seem to have an end. But today was different. I still missed him but my heart didnt seem to hurt as much. Something had changed inside me and I suspected it had to do with last nights events. Yesterday, after having Clara begging for ages to allow her to set me up, I finally gave in over the telephone. I thought it might do me so good to get out of the house, and my mother was sick of me wallowing in my grief. I had turned on the radio, hoping it might help with the nerves. Before leaving I got all dolled up, piling on the war paint, preparing myself for a long night. I wore a gold, beaded dress cascading in waves of crystalline fringe giving me an impression of a boyish-figure, something that was necessary to fit in. There were strings of pearls wrapped around my swan-like neck. Before leaving, I carefully selected my weapons and placed them in gold mesh evening clutch: vamp-red lipstick, silver powder compact, tortoise shell comb and an ivory cigarette case. With a dab of perfume into the crease where my shiny bob skimmed my neck, I was out the door and into an automobile.

August 14, 1922 My dates name was Marcus and he was a nice enough man with golden-boy features, sharp cheekbones and jaw and a permanent smirk on his face. Trustworthy. Swoony, even. We found the speakeasy entrance exactly where was instructed, between the tailor and barber. After knocking three times exactly, a tiny slit in the boarded up door opened. It was a man who said, whats the password, doll? of course by this time I was frozen. It was the moment I spent hours practicing in front of mirror for. Not to mention that my dress-which Id only bought the day before- that one gust of wind could turn me from flapper to flasher like that. The hemline shorter than anything I ever wore before! Eventually, after a few tries we entered, Marcus leading the way. I didnt bother to tell him that it had been a very long time since I been out. For some unknown reason I wanted him to like me. It was as if I walked into the rebel side of heaven. A dense cloud of smoke hung near the ceiling of the windowless room-everyone seemed to be holding a cigarette, smoke eaters puffing out upwards. There were men everywhere, in the plush green booths along the wall where they sat managing to look menacing as they chewed on hamburgers and slapped down cards. And moving among the men had been slim woman, curtsey of the new food trends that were no meat all vegetables, flitting about in glittering flashes: flappers. I know thats what todays independent women called themselves. They support female equality, something I was very passionate myself. They all looked like they were ripped straight out of a fashion spread in Vogue or the set of some extravagant Hollywood movie starring Clara Bow. Some with hand cuffs on their hands while others were bare and some had cloches on their heads while others had huge feathers expertly placed. They looked like beautiful, exotic birds. Oh dear, I felt so out of place; it was whole different side of Chicago that I had never seen. And there was so much skin! More exposed skin than I have even seen at the beach. Marcus and me continued pushing our

August 14, 1922 way through the large mass of bodies; we had to shout at each other because of the loud jazz playing. A tuxedoed waiter passed by and I grabbed a glass at random. And thats when it went downhill. It was a sharp burning sensation as it went down my throat and I recognized the taste as alcohol. I wheezed and tears leaked from my eyes as Marcus pounded the back of my chest, laughing as he did so. I made an utter mess of myself! It hit me about two minutes later. Everything began to spin and I hardly recognized myself as dragged Marcus and myself to the dance floor. We joined the Charleston-crazed dancers, dancing to the melody. Everyone was very close together, their bodies moving with blissful abandon. Marcus later excused himself saying he had business to do and would be back later in a few minutes. It didnt register at the time as I was too busy dancing but if I had looked closer I would have realized he was all-wet! When I finally dragged myself away to visit the powder room, I saw men in blue pinstriped suits, tilted up fedoras, and clouds of cigar smoke. With one look, I knew these were most definitely gangsters and Marcus was standing next to them! These were men who worked in the bootlegging business, illegally producing bathtub gin for jack. They had no regard of the prohibition and were able to do anything they wanted. I went into the powder room where I could hear girls throwing up their dinner, dizzy from the dancing. After dabbing my head with a wet towel and fixing my hairstyle, I walked back out, carefully avoiding Marcus. I resided to just stand in a dark, corner and survey the room, smoking a cigarette when I realized something. The Flapper Way was all about style, the way a hand moved or a chin was thrown back in laughter or the way a girl sipped a drink with a dark smile and a sidelong glance at her date. It was about peering into someone elses eyes and letting the hot jazz say what words did not. Could not. As I contemplated, I let my mind slip into forbidden territories. I thought about William, something I didnt let myself do very often. I thought about the day I found out

August 14, 1922 that he was dead. I thought about the agonizing months filled with waiting. I would wake up in the morning not knowing if it was the day I received bad news. I thought about the few letters that I read myself to sleep over and over again. But then I thought about the times before all that. When we spend night together just talking about anything and everything. I think thats when I left the old Gloria behind, William would have wanted me to be happy and I couldnt keep going about the way I was. I had changed that day when William was announced dead but I never allowed myself to believe that. I was afraid of change and in a society where everything was changing, that was not possible. The old Gloria would have left the moment she saw Marcus talking the bootleggers but a new Gloria would have joined the dance floor for a round of black bottom dancing. Which is exactly what I did. I mingled, drank and in general danced the whole night away. I decided that while I love and will always love William, I had to move on. The times were changing and things were different and if I didnt want to get left behind, I better let my past go and move with the future. I learned how to live by Carpe Diem, seize the day; a saying that allows me to enjoy my life and to just let go of the pain while keeping hold of the joy and good memories that I had. So, I say carpe diem as I move onto a new chapter, a new beginning of my life. Jazz, booze and boys, its going to be a dangerous combination. Sincerely, Gloria Dyer