It was all exactly as he left it. That was the most surprising thing about my visit to Hemingway's house, about an hour outside of Havana. The day was hot, humid. The sun shining. But as we left the city behind and neared the house clouds started to roll in. The air was changing.
It was expensive to get through the front gate (probably the same price as a month's local wage) and all you could do was look through the open windows and doors. If it started to rain the guides and workers would set about closing them until the rain had absolutely stopped. We looked up at the sky and kept our fingers crossed.
I approached the front door and peered in. Feeling like a trespasser. Everything was exactly as he had left it in the late 50's. In a matter of months he would kill himself.
It was good taste incarnate. None of the beautifully designed (often especially for him and this house) would have looked out of place in a home today. And it struck me; the wealth, the freedom, the society. He had the world at his perfectly perfunctory feet. Constantly being, allowing himself to be, and actively wooing the whose who of the times. There was a small wooden bowl in the dining room with the engraving "From Mr and Mrs Roosevelt" (not Mr and Mrs President).
The magazine rack brimming with Time and literary journals.
And he often wrote standing up. This was something I didn't know. But then I don't think I was the fan I am now since seeing the house. I don't know if it was the air, the light, the impending storm but seeing the house left me with a silence; one that I am still unable to articulate. Perhaps a feeling of the impossibility of it all.
One of the best things in the house ... his daily record of his weight neatly inscribed just inside the bathroom door.
Another one of his writing perches ... chair positioned with his back to the window. Which to me seemed odd. I love nothing more than to face out the window. But then maybe that's why I haven't written a master piece yet. One of the items on his desk is a letter stamp that reads "I never write letters". Apparently he would return letters unopened with this defiantly emblazoned across their chests.
The room at the top of the look out tower where he only did his editing.
The old Corona that sits on that desk.
A walk through the pet cemetery and past the empty pool brings you to an awaiting Pilar under her canopy. Much bigger than I had imagined she would be. In my mind maybe all boats related to Hemingway are small with old men sitting in them.
The thunder rolled out just as our guide was finishing up with her last tit bit. As we exited the compound there were houses and huts built almost to the front gates and I wondered if it had been like that when he lived there?
And the heavy air followed us all the way back to Havana where I thought about how any of our lives must look from the outside, or the inside, of a home. How strange it is sitting there locked in another decade. In it's brilliance and isolation.