— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Neverthless, they fell in love — and on her terms. He no longer joined the twilight gathering at the De Soto Bar, and whenever they were seen together there were engaged in a long, serious dialogue, which must have gone on several weeks. Long afterward he told me that it was not about anything in particular but was composed on both sides of immature and even meaningless statements — the emotional content that gradually came to fill it grew up not out of the words but out of its enormous seriousness.
It was sort of hypnosis.
Often it was interrupted, giving way to that emasculated humour we call fun; when they were alone it was resumed again, solemn, low-keyed, and pitched so as to give each other a sense of unity in feeling and thought. They came to resent any interruptions of it, to be unresponsive to facetiousness about life, even to mild cynicism of their contemporaries. They were only happy when the dialogue was going on, and its seriousness bathed them like the amber glow of an open fire. Toward the end there came an interruption they did not resent —
It began to be interrupted by passion.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Rich Boy”
— Audre Lorde
The original Hans Christian Anderson story is the Mermaid must kill the Prince. The deal was if he fell in love with her she could be human forever—but he didn’t. He fell in love with someone else. The Mermaid is told she can only return to the sea now if she kills the Prince. She goes into the room where he and his lover lie sleeping and they look so beautiful and happy together that she can’t do it.
That’s why she kills herself. And because it was a noble act she returns to sea as foam.
One moral of the story was that women shouldn’t fundamentally change who they are for love of a man, and in theory Han Christian Anderson wrote it for a ballerina with whom he fell in love. She was marrying someone else who wouldn’t let her dance.