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Christine Hall Volkoff
Published: 2009 Tag(s): romantic bisexual Paris lesbian "coming of age"
TRAVELS THROUGH LOVE AND TIME Journeys beyond our selves… By Christine Hall Volkoff
Part 1: NOSTROMO One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing spread your wings and take to the sky… DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin “Summertime” Day One
It had started as such a good day. As I sat on the bluff amongst the pines, looking at the entire view of the island all around me, the cicadas were so loud that I could hardly hear myself think. The sea was calm, with a few white sails here and there. I could see the little harbor, with pieces of the village around it. I recognized the Navy fort to my right, and the white beaches to the North, and tried in vain to spot my parent’s house off the Chemin du Langoustier. It felt so good to be out there in the warm breeze, taking in the scent of hot pine sap, the sweet loneliness of being up there with myself and my dreams. One day, I would be up here with someone I loved, and we would kiss in the shadow and protection of the maritime pines, we would own the world. I got up, and went back to my clunky bicycle. The brakes were so bad, that my friends and I had bought some cheap sandals with high cork heels at the Porquerolles market, so we could drag our feet and use the heels as brake pads in order to slow down. I cautiously started down the trail, bouncing the tires over the pine needles and roots. I was on the island for the summer. My parents were both gone, typically in their separate ways, my father in Italy and my mother somewhere in Scandinavia. I enjoyed having the house to myself. Not quite to myself since I had Simone, my governess to take on all the hard work and boring tasks in the house, and take care of me. It was a great deal, and I appreciated every minute. The freedom was palpable, almost unbearable, and I could only hope I could summon the experiences to make it unforgettable. I rode through the village, still bouncing on all the rocks, and took the one paved road to the left, back to the house. I had worked up an appetite, and was looking forward to sitting out in the courtyard, eating Simone’s delicious food and looking at the bees dancing around the wisteria. I was reading a mystery. I always liked to read while having lunch. At night I would usually discuss the day with Simone. I parked the bicycle in the service entrance, and knew right away something was wrong. Simone looked worried. “Your mother called!” she said. Oh no. “Is she coming?” I said, with a mixture of hope and fear. I was hopeful that maybe she was taking enough of an interest in her progeny to come and spend some time with me. I was afraid that she would be coming home and start taking away my precious freedom. -No, but she has invited Mrs. d’Alessi to stay here for a week. -What?!
and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. She was married to Marco d’Alessi. a producer who was much older than her. Right now. Mr.Today. Since my father was working in the film business. Some of the films. This was a double whammy! . and always found them to be extremely boring in person. very blue eyes. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. especially from the point of view of a kid. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00.You mother said she had business in France. but I had seen some of her movies. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca. however. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion.Shit! Whatever…I said. . She looked good in black and white though. I still could not believe it! One whole week! . as Simone frowned at the word. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself.Oh right.I was crestfallen. She had dark skin. I regularly gave them looks that could kill. I had never met her. and she wants be incognito. I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years. slightly above my head.Why. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave. The idea of having to contend with “La d’Alessi” for a whole week made me want to pull out all of my mother’s roses and trample them until there was no trace left of them. though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. I hated her. and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. that she needed the rest. and ran away to my room. were I have to admit. . I decided that I would not have 4 .When is she coming? . I thought she was beautiful. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career.
I hopped on the bike. After all our exertions. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. So it was really Ondine and me and the boys. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. The canoe leaked. Let him or her go free. and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. I had a crush on Bambi. and off we went. did not return my feelings. We made 5 . whose nickname was of all things. making shopping lists. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. and that always fell in front of his eyes. He had blond hair that was curly in places. My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica. turn it over to empty it and start all over again. I was furious at my mother. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys.anything to do with her. and I loved to watch him. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. It was me and “the girls”. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. Bambi. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. as he always yelled at me. and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. I made my escape. This was probably what attracted me. I liked them all. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. who were brothers. and the manners of a bad boy. Ondine and Veronica. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. Then. He was skinny. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. At 2:30. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. We played a game where we would pull out the old canoe that we had hidden at the Plage d’Argent. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. and did not join us very often. I ate my lunch distractedly. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. So there. as possible. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. we will know for sure who done it. Once they are all dead. He had the looks of an angel. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer. working hard. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. to the latest news.
grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on. . that somehow pulled you in.fun of the people we called tourists. those who lived on the island all year round. Francesca wanted to be incognito. As she looked up. I took a shower. see you tomorrow morning! Good night. They were blue. luminous. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village. Today was a good day. I shook her hand.Yes. but you are welcome! . . .Indeed.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. we did not stay in hotels. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter. I will! I was relieved not to have to face the awkward situation of whether I was welcome to eat with Mrs. ignored the Italianization of my name. . good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents. She extended her hand to me. I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest. Day Two The next day was a little cloudy. and went out into the patio for some breakfast. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. d’Alessi or not. as usual. I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some 6 . I woke up late. I’m Francesca. buttering a slice of toasted bread. Obviously. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies.OK. as close to midnight as I could. so I felt I had to respect that. I was struck by the color of her eyes. A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me. and told her I would not be home for dinner. as I usually did on cloudy days. We had houses. but I did not say who it was. but there was something about her demeanor. Simone was not free to talk. yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. other than mocking or yelling.Is she here? . Francesca d’Alessi was there. and sat down at the table.Is she going to have dinner at home? . and biked home as slowly as I could. . we were locals.Thanks.You must be Christina…happy to meet you. like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin.
and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion.Mrs. . I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone. she said. and besides you cannot get lost on the island.coffee. but Francesca started in.Not far. even less obtained as a result. actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question).Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. to get to the harbor. and they let me join in. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help.Yes I do. . . I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? . and then she changed the subject. and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. but sweated a little more for the math.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . and her English was definitely superior to my Italian. I aced the spelling dictation as usual. I replied yes. It’s too small. When I arrived at Ondine’s. .No.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . .Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. She spoke to me in English. . He will be here for two nights. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry.I am meeting a friend at 10:30. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. 7 . A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes.So. she was doing summer homework with her tutor. but had recently become mine.
Sure… And off we went. and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents. Besides. on our bikes. and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom. I know.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame. and snorkel gear. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned.She is supposed to be incognito. 8 . Bambi had brought a fishing gun. . I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing. .Her boyfriend? Said Bambi.And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine. Fishing meant hunting down the fish. I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back. and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues. . .We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch. but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident. Do you want to come? . Sometimes. I had learned from a local kid how to turn the head inside out and beat out the ink before handing the octopus to the chef for lunch.Hey you guys! What are you up to? . and sat on the beach. She is actually staying at our house. and did not want to go back to the house and look for it. .Nothing…what are you doing today? .Oh. I had borrowed mine from Veronica. Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite.Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning. Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. I said sighing. Bambi started the conversation. as I did not remember where mine was. we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day.
I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together. intense.She’s not a dyke. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. We were all soaring above white clouds. Her boyfriend came today. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. little old you. This had driven the paparazzi crazy.I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. infinite ocean. it was still early. happy and comfortable. Selena Hirschberg was the dark.Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents. know that?! . At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure. but I was already dozing off. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed. When I arrived back at the house. that broke into a long. I was hanging on to one of them. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins. intense with sweetness. I went back to my room. Argentinian star who had created a sensation at the last Cannes Festival after her film won the Palme d’Or.You better beware. feeling lighter than a feather. I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds. The move broke my balance. like blue herons. mysterious. and picked up my mystery book. No one was there. prolonged moan. of all people. and I started falling. Suddenly. men sized sneakers there. finally interested in the next clue. and below us was the blue.What? Come on! How could you.. with long necks. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. and the 9 . I woke up suddenly from my dream. cuff links here. I could still hear the bird sound. said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… . repeated moaning. This was no bird. It was a soft. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip. his name is Tomaso. Things were quite messy in there. by refusing all the interviews. like seagulls. . The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. .
There was silence for a while. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast.wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall. Without warning. more voices. I could see stars and some clouds. listening. with that racket going on. the sound of laughter. Then. I got up. . and I got up and joined them in the patio.Christina. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. Safe in the warmth of my bed. His smile was disarming and contagious. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided.Come on. My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night. The loneliness was palpable. and realized it was going to get cold. wearing nothing but shorts. and went outside. Someone got up. and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. following their movements. wake up! . I heard water running. and the moaning started again. to the point where tears came to my eyes. 10 . come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. Outside. They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me. I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. Francesca greeted me. When I did not respond. the door opened slightly.What? I was wide awake by now. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing. punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. where I could not hear anything. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. He left the room. Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. I crossed the patio and went back to my room. No way could I sleep. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly. feigning sleepiness. I started sniffling. Shivering. whispering in Italian. The light was turned off. an immense sadness came over me. It took a while. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. . I stayed awake for a while. realizing they had left the door open. and Tomaso introduced himself. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it.
Not a cloud in the sky. We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. He was so energetic. the misty coast beyond. Francesca’s smiling face. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. dark green towel. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue. I thought. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. the sky. and there I was walking with them. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. on a large circle off the coast. The day was gorgeous. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. said Tomaso. finally sipping that Pastis. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. I said to myself. or even with anyone. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. After I climbed back on the boat. The captain Mr.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing. so engaging. the wake. he said. and I managed to get up on the skis. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. At night. This is how people eat it in Rome. bobbing by the wharf. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. on my way to spending the day with them. We had wine. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. This is how real people live. There I was. After I had spent some time enlightening 11 . a Riva speedboat. being part of them. We had melon. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me. ready to take his turn with the mono ski. I declined the drink until later. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. Tomaso looked like a Greek God. I will remember this always. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults.
Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. said Francesca. I was laughing so hard. I had tears in my eyes. We waved goodbye. I listened. We had to jump off the boat into the water. and wait for him in his room. Day Four As I woke up. Now that they were my friends. I listened into the night. heard some cats meowing. I fell sound asleep. I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. but I could not fathom what was so powerful that those who did it could lose control of their voices and their movements as if caught in a current stronger than their will. Once in my bed. and Mr. and their conscious beings. and listened over the crickets. said Francesca.Well. Eventually. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor. he doesn’t know what he’s missing. they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi. Running across the living room. . . I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. we got back into the boat. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. everyone!”. After we were done drying the floor. as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. said Tomaso. and splashed around as we ran toward the house. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom. “Buona Notte. After dinner. . 12 .them on his name and nickname. Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. and joined her. lifting her glass. I knew the facts of life of course.Wrap yourself up with cellophane.
had changed. we had sandwiches for lunch. tan and fearless. I just know she’s not a dyke. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer. a celebration in all of France. I would rather have died on the spot than shared anything I knew from the time I had spent with Francesca. . I would suddenly be tall. We worked for a while. She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand. thinking about the cellophane. because you do. Today was the 14th of July. as his wisecracks about Francesca were beginning to get on my nerves. “the little deer”.I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me. it was as if the world was coming together. looking at his back and the blond curls in the back of his head. I threw some sand at him. When she looked at me. Bastille Day. . She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. I was less in awe of the new chrome zippo. I used to be visiting that beach. that’s all! 13 . it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. Afterwards. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. My confidence had also increased. Even Bambi. After all. .Nothing. We usually did not have fireworks on or near the island but some people took the boat to Hyeres to watch them. the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils.Oh. As a matter of fact. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys. and I actually did better in math this time. but I was also chuckling to myself. I noticed that everything around me had changed. I still enjoyed looking at him.You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. I waved back and grabbed my bike. I am the one who felt irritation. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. now I secretly owned the beach.
obviously obsessed by Francesca. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. 14 . and smiled. She looked tan. Good” and singing it in French. There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. over in the far corner. of course. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake. We had a great time.Mrs. Veronica.You know me? And do I know you? . He came over. We could already hear the music from the terrace. I know you… . as I went over to join Ondine. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti.Lay off her. . and one of the sailors spotted her. and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us. said Bambi. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry. Couples and kids were dancing. She took in the scene. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags. Her presence was hard to ignore. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. was playing “Johnny B. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. . .And on we went… That night. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort. Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. and no makeup whatsoever. will ya? . and took off his hat. Francesca had a way of drawing people out. Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. to thank her for taking such good care of us.Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. and younger than her thirty something years. Simone’s favorite and mine as well. with electric guitars and accordions. aren’t we protective…. Some local band. that Francesca agreed to join them.No you don’t…yet…but will you do us the honor of joining us for a drink? The sailor seemed so nice and so respectful. Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church.My. d’Alessi. on the village square. rum “baba”.
. We all got up to dance with her. so we danced like zombies together. sometimes. and some tourist amateur photographers. 15 . Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. and soon he and I. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s. The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. and twirl me around. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses. That’ll make a nice front page.I guess it’s OK with her. I don’t think Francesca was counting on this.Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors. I should have spotted the photographer and warned her.What’s going on over there? . and she was supposed to be incognito. I got up to greet her. and Francesca said “Oh. . pick me up in his arms. executed in zombie like jerks. Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. and it made me extremely proud and happy. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends. you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me.Yes I am. and we all started dancing in a circle. but I had not been paying attention.Christine! You’re almost cool. and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off. So he finally stopped. . and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy. She nodded yes without answering. After a while. She walked over to our table. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography.Is everything OK? I asked. and some of the sailors joined us as well. and seemed to be having a great time. Francesca was a good dancer. But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. I said…still a little worried. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration. .. I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. until he finally had to laugh. if a little subdued and controlled. I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. I looked around for Francesca. I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors.
carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow. She kissed me on my right cheek. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much. la media luz de amor…la la la”. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight. so I could guide her on the trail. “Y todo a media luz…” Francesca was singing in Spanish “que es un brujo el amor”…then she hummed to herself for a little bit “que suave terciopelo. We could still hear the music coming from the square. . and we started walking home. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes. and then was quiet all the way back.Buona notte. You just wait and see… She looked excited. . We got back to the house safe and sound. But my interest in who could possibly be the murderer had waned considerably since I had first taken it up… Day Five I could hear Simone’s voice in broken English behind the door as I was getting ready to come out for breakfast. .But Mrs. I did not want to leave Francesca alone. Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water! 16 . she took my hand. It was very dark and still warm. Myriads of stars were out.I need to go home.Christina. .I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. no moon yet. so I waved at my friends from afar. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. and twirled away back to her room. and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango. At some point. sweetie… . and we could hardly see. As we said goodnight. as if at some grand event.At some point.
it would be fine with her to take the Nostromo out. but it was a beautiful. She was smiling and joking. for the boat? I did indeed. less than 30 feet long.As I walked out. Felipe says you can handle working the jib. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. un minuto per favore…”she said. She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe. with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. I had not stayed overnight on Nostromo since I was about five years old! Felipe was coming over to help us with the big bag and with some groceries. The big duffel bag is where we kept all that was needed for an overnight on board Nostromo. sheets. After my parents separated. sure. pillows. wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. but she added that if Mr. and a striped sailor shirt.Yes. is this true? . I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. “Felipe. . and we were packing essentials for overnight. seaworthy. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women. my mother decided she hated the sea. blankets.Do you know where the “big bag” is. and taking me with her. . She turned to me. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. Then. Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother. Felipe agreed.She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. Francesca looked ready. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities. including my mystery book of course. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor.Christina. I’ve done it before…I had done it. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then. It lived in the harbor. some pots and pans. and she instructed me to go and get it. As I was finishing breakfast. I had a few occasions to go out on the boat. my parents’ sailboat. says Francesca. it looked like it was all set. The Nostromo was small. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me 17 . . My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel.
and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. and we were off. drinks in hand. She was a smooth. We dropped anchor. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. Francesca started the engine. There were very few other boats around. and swam around with Francesca. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. she was all fluidity and elegance. he pulled out the plank. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. with skin the color of light rosewood. I tried not to stare at her. ideal for apprentice sailors. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. This put the breeze at our back. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. and she 18 . with calm seas and a soft breeze. I poked around in the cabin for a while. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. it was time to sail.everything step by step. and nothing seemed to come easily. waved at him. I was nervous. as I had not been sailing for a long time. In the water. in a tribute to her natural beauty. When she came up from diving. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. almost alone with her. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. and then I jumped from the bow. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. It looked like a perfect day though. The shackles were rusty with salt. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. but also intimidated to be out there. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. On the boat. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. Fortunately. Then he helped us open the duffel. easy swimmer. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. I felt privileged. We did one clumsy port tack. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. Once we passed the jetty. Finally. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. She was slender and strong.
but I have read the novel by Jules Verne. Not to be on public display like that… . .But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play. they are not foreign to me. . she truly talked like an Italian. it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly.Well. Francesca was asking: . have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? .Christina. with all kinds of hand gestures. and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream. other than yourself. And all they see is love…the light of love. . But it’s all right… 19 .I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. that they miss the ray altogether. and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds.What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. Does it bother you when people recognize you? . to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray. they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings. I’ve known them all.No.You seemed to be OK last night. Coming back up. The sun was half way gone. When she explained something. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands. the good ones.And do they get to see it? I looked at her.The common wisdom is that acting is great. In it. And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes. the scenery was breathtaking. It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time. The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood. the icky ones. . Too many people… .made Pastis for both of us. But I always think my job is to act. because you can be many different people. the desperate ones. though. She handed me my drink.No. . I’ve had them all at one point or another. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting. watching the sun go down. They are so into each other. and we sat on the deck side by side.
Yes. I wanted to know everything about Francesca.I don’t know for sure.Hmm…sometimes. I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . Then. I do. but no green ray was showing up. Just like in the story. Francesca looked genuinely moved. but he is not the marrying kind.. to find that the sun was at the green ray point.Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? .Well. but we are not really physically in love with each other anymore. She got up and decided to make dinner.Che bello…what a beautiful story… We were quiet and looking into each other’s eyes all of a sudden. She had made another batch of Italian pasta. but most of the time we live in Malibu.And he doesn’t mind? . She had mentioned her husband. . while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove. I love him very much. let me see… 20 . I was the one who looked away first. people like me and my husband love each other.No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then. . and it opened the door to more important questions. He is a good friend and a great lover.Do you still live in Naples? .Does your husband know about Tomaso? .Do you…huh…do you love your husband? . I have Tomaso. My father and I would go sailing all the time. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind. So. I was sailing alone when I was about your age… . . . but it was only something from a book.What is it that makes someone a great lover? . .My family lives near Naples. I love Tomaso. California.Yes he does. I was determined to direct the conversation. and I had a little bit of rose wine.How come you know how to sail like that? .
. I was remaining silent. it feels very good…but I think in the long run. you know. trying to wrap my mind around all of this. make love with Selena and all that stuff? . believe me. You are not left alone out there. . fiery. . and Indian.Yes.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it. And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! . . You would love her too… . I am. She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me.You love a lot of people.Is that good or bad? . . don’t you think? . however. .She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! . 21 . but I think he read it somewhere.Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . I was still on the attack.Yes.Yes.Well. Anytime I can. She is beautiful. she is…too good maybe. so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me.You’re in love with Selena? .Bambi says you sleep with her. I do.Do you.Well.Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive.I don’t know. . That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her. I’m in love with Selena.What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question. but I appreciated her effort. like.What about Selena Hirschberg? . I said. Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are. it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you. .
. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me. Rigel. this was the life…indeed… 22 . I could hear night birds flapping their wings. Arcturus. that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. We swam a little far from the boat. . I could not see her very well. and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual. the Little Bear. . On saying this. Vega de la Lyre. she suddenly got up. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium. Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me. She laughed.Yes now! Come on.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm. Orion. There were so many stars. . and floated on our backs looking at the stars. . I was floating too. I thought…I’ve got to do it. I could see Francesca floating on her back. There I was. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. the Medium Bear. you know. Francesca was listening intensely.. the Big Bear.Yes sweetheart. Out from behind the cove. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves. at least some of them… I started naming them. my heart is full…but there is always room for more. I do. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this.Tell me more… Sirius. Cappella. looking at the sky. and to dive head first from the boat into the night.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting. but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. I was saying the names in French.Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . Betelgeuse.Yes. hardly making a splash. I took off all my clothes as well. and the stars began to fade. It all seemed like a dream. . So. Oh. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters. The water felt incredibly warm.Let’s go for a swim! . she proceeded to take off all her clothes. Goldilocks… I was making them up. all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid.
Once the moon was up, the cool breeze also rose, and we decided to get back onto the boat. Fortunately, I had left the little ladder unfolded at the stern. Francesca went up ahead of me. The drops of water on her body were like glitter in the moonlight. I could see the chain around her waist. - Do you know where the towels are? I did, and I got them for both of us…We dried off inside the cabin, and closed the door. Inside, the light was soft, and since we had already made the bunk beds, they looked cozy and inviting. I went into the little bathroom to brush my teeth, and then settled down in my bunk with my book while Francesca took her turn in the little bathroom. The boat was gently rocking, making creaking sounds and I could hear the waves licking at the hull. I liked that a lot. I was imagining that we were miles away from civilization. Me and Francesca, we were alone on the ocean. She came over and sat on my bunk, she was still naked, her shoulders wrapped in her towel. She took my hand. - You are a wonderful kid, she said. Then she bent over and lightly kissed me on the lips, lingering just a little. When she stopped, I was bathing in the light of her smile and my heart was beating faster. She was still holding my hand. Without thinking, I brought her hand to my lips and kissed it. - You need to be happy, my sweetheart… As she said that, my eyes started blurring with tears. I could feel uncontrollable sobs welling up in my throat. She lifted me from the pillow, and held me for a long time. “…there… there…” she was saying, rocking me gently. “There, my angel…May your dreams guide you to happiness”. In between sobs I kept trying to say “but I am happy”, but I don’t think anything intelligible came out. When the storm finally subsided, I realized her neck was drenched with tears, and I pulled back. I used a corner of her towel to dry her, and she gently patted my swollen eyes with another corner. We were so close; I could feel the warmth from her skin like a heat lamp. She took a tissue from the little night table in between the bunks, and handed it to me. I blew my nose, and greedily grabbed her hand again as I lay back down. I was looking at her face in wonder. I was taking in her beauty and trying to slow down my breathing. She stroked my hair and my cheeks for a while. Her touch was calming and electrifying at the same time. She kissed both my eyes and my
lips, soft as a feather. Then she kissed my hand, as she was letting go of it to get up from my bunk. I was still trembling, as she lay down on her side and turned off the light, whispering “good night, sweetie…go to sleep…lots to do tomorrow!”. I turned toward the wooden wall in my bunk. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, and the water against the hull. My breathing was still shallow and I was shaking for no reason that I could think of. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, I settled down, and turned around to face inside the cabin. The moon had risen even higher, and moonbeams were crisscrossing through the portholes. I could see Francesca sleeping with abandon, looking so vulnerable with her arms up on the pillow like a baby. She had kicked off the sheets, and her body seemed to be translucent in the moonlight. I would have given anything to have the nerve to cross over, and lie down next to her, holding her tight, and feeling her skin against mine, her hair against my face. I watched her sleep for quite a while. As she shifted in her sleep, each movement was one more expression of beauty. How can anyone be so perfect and not be cruel, obnoxious, or dead? I caught my eyes closing on their own, and I eventually drifted off into sleep with dreams of ocean waters and endless voyages through comfort and love. Day Six When I opened my eyes, it was late. The hatch was already open and sunshine was pouring in. I could see part of Francesca’s leg outside, she was already up. I could smell coffee in the little kitchen area. The boat was gently rocking and I could tell it was going to be a slightly cooler day. I got up, folded the sheets and put them and the pillows into the duffel bag. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then went up to meet Francesca in the bright light of the morning. “Good morning, amore mio!” she said, “here is some breakfast for you”. She had cut melon and strawberries into little cubes, made some toast and buttered it, and arranged everything neatly for me on the placemat on the folding table. As we prepared for departure, I was literally floating…not cautiously stepping on the deck, but gliding, swinging around the rigging like in a Hollywood musical. Francesca and I smiled at each other a lot. At some point, I hoisted the jib and dangled from the deck to undo a line that was caught. I saw a look of concern on her face but I looked back and waved. She smiled and blew a kiss in my direction. She kept calling “amore, let’s
go, ready about!” “amore mio, let’s do another one”, and with every call, I turned into a better sailor. The sea was a little rougher on the Western side of the island, but by then, we were a well tuned seafaring team. She was my skipper, and I was her first mate. I was flying about the deck adjusting this, tying that, tightening, loosening, until the boat was steadily breaking the waves, full and by, panting at a good clip. Francesca held the wheel with her feet, and leaned back into the sunlight. I lay down on the cushions in the wheelhouse, and rested my head on her leg. I could see the white mainsail and the sky, and with every lift of the boat, I could feel the pressure of the muscles in her thigh. Every now and then, she would gently stroke my hair. I would look up at her and she would smile at me. It was like time had stopped, and the world was nothing but this infinite sky, dark blue sea and the wonderful isolation of our small sailboat… “Amore, it’s time…one last starboard tack to home…” I got up, she sat up at the helm, and we executed our last tack perfectly. I sat at the bow with my legs dangling, watching the harbor approaching as we encountered more boats and waved at them. I started furling the jib, and then we brought down the mainsail as the boat was gracefully turning in a circle. She started the motor, and we entered the little harbor, as I was lowering the bumpers. We had been gone for weeks, it seemed. I was arriving in a foreign country, an exciting new land. The small harbor master’s building, the small flotilla of white fishing boats once familiar, were like a discovery…a quiet side entrance into a new life. There was a large motor yacht in the harbor, the “Orion”, flying the colors of Greece in the guest slip at the far end of the dock. I busied myself doing all the chores I remembered from the last time I had sailed on the “Nostromo”. I folded the jib into the sail hold, and Francesca helped me wrap the mainsail into its blue protective cover. As I was swabbing the deck, a man was helping Francesca with the gangplank. He was dressed like a sea captain in a light opera, with white pants, a blue blazer and a white cap that he took off when he started talking to her. They were speaking English, but I could not hear what they were saying. As Felipe was walking toward us to get the keys, I took our bags out, locked the last hatch, and watched as the man hopped on a little golf cart, and sped off toward the Orion. I had left the big duffel in the cabin. Felipe said he would bring it over later, and we walked off toward home. I was windblown, my skin was sticky with salt, my hair matted, but Francesca still looked like she had just stepped out of a giant clam shell like Botticelli’s Venus.
Ah. without having to walk the bike. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. as Bambi would say. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion. and almost made it to my favorite spot. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. I was not a lesbian. the Greek billionaire. The production company would love for me to give him a little push. I loved Francesca. good…should be fun. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. and I could still feel her lips on mine. I would much rather stay with you. he is on the list to finance my next film. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys. but could I imagine sleeping with her as a lover? I just liked the way she was so physically affectionate with me and called me all these beautiful Italian names. I was pedaling with a vengeance. I was distressed. I brushed off the pine needles. I loved the look of her skin. mainly about love. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there.Sweetie. and maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat. and I was not even truly an adult. We would have talked about all kinds of adult things. that was Stavros Spanodakis. and how I had hoped she would never pull away. her eyes.Ah. . I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. and walked over to where I could look at the little coves on the South side of the island. her hair. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. There we had been. . I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper. I lay down for a long time. a dyke. This was my last evening with Francesca.. There we had 26 . He came to the island on the Orion every now and then. carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked. I slept for a while. She would have taken my hand. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment.You know Christina.
in a white evening gown that brought out her tan. Spanodakis. The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle.Oh. I am purser for Mr. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor. possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it. standing by the golf cart. with me walking 27 . She walked toward me. I will let her know. After dinner. I could not really see anything and I went back home. the phone rang. on foot. When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. At around eleven. all right. I saw Francesca. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. No one can take this back. . and turned and waved at Demosthenes. Simone and I had dinner together.Allo? This is Demosthenes.La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. I could not help but smile… . a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying. as I got off the bike and we started toward home. At the gate to the pier. I was sure of it. Next to her was Demosthenes. I said yes.spent the night together. She was breathtakingly beautiful. and gold sandals. But I could see there was light on the yacht. and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. There we had truly loved each other. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner. she will be there right away! I did not have to tell Christina to jump on the bicycle and ride like the wind to the harbor. . It was almost dark when I finally came down the hill and I realized that I had waited so Francesca would already be gone by the time I got home. Simone went to her little bungalow. She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo. She was wearing turquoise earrings.Yes? . It could be my mother. Instead. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca.
I got some ice water from the refrigerator. . what do you think!? . Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier. I reached for her hand across the table. do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? . . then follow it.Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. She was giving me no details.Christina.So. She held mine in return. This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school. and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more. But you see. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness. It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… . as a matter of fact he did.Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time. Follow it all the way and don’t look back.It was good. I chose the best glass for Francesca.Christina! No. of course not.How do I know when something is really good? 28 . I wanted to take care of her.Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. . I am very thirsty.Yes.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. . My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone. how was it? I asked. back to the house. .Sweetheart. and poured her a nice tall glass. So we sat in the kitchen. a red crystal one with cut designs. . The first thing she did was take off her shoes. . If it does. please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked. . I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie.the bike. not really wanting to know… . and I was feeling possessive.No. I can say no. in mock annoyance. You can’t go wrong. But she was still in charge. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide.
. it feels good. just below the ear. . come on sweetie. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. almost in a gasp.Oh my…said Francesca. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep. . and I could imagine her. Sleep was entirely out of the question. She went into her room and closed the door. that I had to breathe in and out. though you don’t always know it at first. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air.I will miss you. as she gently released me. When I joined them.. but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good. it sticks to you.I will miss you too. I could hear the night crickets. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. . I was not sad anymore. As we were walking toward our rooms. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. and it will keep. I was looking at her. The sensation was so strange and so powerful. It never goes away. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. trying to never forget. she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace. I was holding her very tight. I went out into the patio. too fast. My heart was light. but I knew she was there. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room. You drink too much. because it stays with you. my angel. you can take it with you anywhere.You know it. But what 29 . OK? She waited for my answer. the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me. it was time to go to bed. Tesoro. to remain within me forever. I said. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark.OK. You do something really good. I wanted this being that I had become today. I did too. She finished her glass and got up. trying to understand what she was saying. I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. and every sensation seemed amplified. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. She kissed my neck. a strange energy was running through me.
while she sat next to the driver in front. and whispered in my ear. when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat. disappearing behind its own wake. Mr. . The reporter from Nice-Matin was there. I looked at the speedboat. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap. and then I will fly to Los Angeles. She gave me a hug. to Toulon. I was the last one. Then she came to me. I helped load her bags in the back. When they passed the jetty. With Bambi. and I could swear I saw him blushing.Oh. but I knew that it had turned me upside down.Where are you going now? . I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. You’ll have to come and visit me… I hopped in the back of the jeep with the bags and off we went toward the harbor. . so were Ondine. Veronica and their parents. closest to the speedboat. it rose up like a rearing horse. she waved at the crowd. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. 30 . and off they went. the varnished wood. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago. then Paris. I saw Bambi. the postman. and kissed them all on both cheeks.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town. When we parked by the wharf. it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca.Well. the one policeman of the island. She went to my friends. Jean-Remy and their parents. I did not quite know what the adventure was. the chrome step. after she kissed him. the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . Next to them. At 10:30. warmer to my heart than a thousand suns. Francesca was very gracious as usual. cameras in hand.
I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. Selena was indeed very beautiful. When no one was around to distract me. go home and join her son in Vendee. walk with her. I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me. When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. We went dancing until dawn. really? The love scenes were light and tasteful.It means “I love you”. and decided that I needed a change of pace. . talk to her. to being with my friends.I had a big lump in my throat. I asked him. In St. and shook his finger at me. we sat on the crowded beaches. I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. but was happy to be able to close the house. favoring swimming and walking alone. I read it somewhere. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia. and we all went to see it.No one…no one told me.Felipe. That’s what it means. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. One night. gossiped and drove around with the older kids. I just want to know what it means… . with long black hair and very intense black eyes. I kept imagining Francesca instead of 31 . I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed. I could swim with her. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. She agreed. . Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. When my mother called. But I was determined not to cry. Simone was sad to see me go. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre. How good was she. Tropez. Tropez. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. I was in a trance. and my eyes were stinging.
and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. When you love someone who is in the public eye. Yet. and we all returned to Paris. and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. or a famous cop. the summer wound down. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. I don’t really remember… Finally. He himself also lived in Rome. and it was now time to grow up and be the best student I could be in order to leave school as soon as possible and move on to University. I went to see all her movies. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. and since I never heard from her. read about her. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. just as I had escaped the island for St. And so I did. I went back to school. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. or maybe calling her. or a saint. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. including my mother who finally came back. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. Every once in a while. Tropez two years before. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. though I very seldom spoke to him. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. There. I thought of writing to Francesca. Guillaume. Many times. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. and often saw her on television. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. I grew shy about contacting her. This part of my life was over. My mother was not very forthcoming. They were separated and they had no reason to keep them. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband.the male protagonist. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. However. 32 .
I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. and to please thank Francesca for us.Sorry. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother. I did not know what to expect or what to think. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. I had friends. their conversations and their sexual games. One morning in May. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes. to put it mildly. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. I picked it up. I picked up my ticket at the will call. as it was already time to go to the screening. she said. I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. except maybe books and films. After all these years. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. I was eighteen years old. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. put on my dress. . and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes. the phone rang. I could not believe it. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. I took a quick shower. I went to the hotel. all by myself. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. I was surprised and excited. and the idea of going there makes me sick! But you can go if you want…I bet you Francesca just wants to paper the audience. I was flabbergasted. and checked in.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. I enjoyed the drive. Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. and 33 . I wanted to look as good as possible. I did not have time to enjoy the room. and said that of course we would attend. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. on the day of the screening. I left early in the morning. and if so. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. but the task had seemed daunting. I was secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. but I hate the Festival. I had flirted.
There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. The scene inside was exciting. thinking of all she had given me. I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time. and she gave me the suite number. She was surrounded with people and photographers. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. Finally. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. the drive. and I kept bumping into people. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty. back then… As the end credits rolled. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. I got to 34 . and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. especially since she had left Hollywood. after the screening. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy. There were no love scenes. it was all worthwhile. everything. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd. She always drew people to her. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. I was happy to be there. I was only interested in one of them. It was a great success. the dress. She saw me. Suddenly. The director came to take a bow. My parents had gone often. The film was harsh and violent. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. but had never brought me with them. and she was good. Francesca was on screen most of the time. and walking on the Croisette. She was very popular in France. but none of them would ever recognize me. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. I had to cross to the beach side. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. This was my first time at Cannes. some of them I had met before. the crowd roared and applauded.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. to have come all this way to honor her. I had a brief moment of guilt. That was fine with me. some woman came over to me. and then I saw her. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. and how little I had given her in return. I remembered what she had said that evening on the Nostromo about how she acted feelings that had been hers at some point or another in her life. designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. as she walked toward the stage.
but he made me feel at ease and welcome. dressed in a tuxedo. and then took my hand. I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. She gave me a hug. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful. She asked me if I felt good about it. and a charming manner. and found the suite without getting lost. with straight longish brown hair. and asked me if how I knew Francesca. . about California. She had to move into the next room.You must be Christina! He said… I feel like I know you already! Come on in…I am Marco d’Alessi. They were going to distribute the film. and we started talking about the film. I found him very attractive. she called…come say hello to my Christina. and we had a few private minutes to talk. I knocked on the door. and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. He was extremely handsome.Christina! Oh. . . At the second glass of 35 . She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her. We both reached out for the same one. I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. He looked at me and we both laughed. and our hands touched.the hotel. Dio mio. . carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne. He sat next to me on the couch. and various appetizing canapes. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human. He held out his hand. She caressed my cheek briefly. Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. surrounded by people holding champagne flutes.Sorry. At some point. and did not offer any more details. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older.Oliver. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything. look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together. His name was Oliver Schneider. Oliver. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood. and an elegant older man opened it. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me.
This dashing young man was taking me. and we 36 . and I did not see Francesca. and I could not imagine better circumstances. on this most anticipated adventure. I was looking at him as he was driving. but I took it in all the same. I wanted it to happen. he said to me. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. he would turn to me. Most people had left. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. in a convertible Bentley. I was a little bit nervous. Everything was perfect.Nah. I said yes.Come with me to my hotel. I said I would be there. then turned away to go back to the living room. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. little old me. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. He opened it. I grabbed my jacket. Every now and then.champagne I was beginning to feel good. of course not. he said. Ten minutes later. “You are so sophisticated!”. We arrived at Eden Roc. and looking into each other’s eyes. . We were reclining on the couch. right by the water. He came to us. You’ll see. It was a suite. I rented it…the company pays for it. I knew he was wrong. I felt so glamorous and grown up. We were standing very close to each other. . and gently stroke my arm. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. smile. the breeze was cool but not cold. He took his key and we went down to his room. Isn’t it great? It was. and said goodnight. We got up and went out on the terrace to look at the row of palm trees and the ocean sparkling in the moonlight. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. and he kissed me very lightly. I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people. He said that Francesca was very tired. and went down to the lobby with Oliver.Is this your car? . I kissed him back.
Oliver was kind and gentle. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. He undid my dress. I got up. I was sorry that the lights were out. Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. and then turned off the light as he undressed and I took off my underwear. .Are you taking birth control? He asked. I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position. I am not. he said. because I wanted to see everything. I was shivering in the water. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it. . There was enough light from the hotel above to see that there were rock steps going into the water. he got up and went into the bathroom.went out on the deck. The water was cold. and went outside. I felt numb and detached. we drank. Afterwards. Oh well. it had been very enjoyable. . “You have beautiful shoulders”. I felt sticky and afraid to move. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. I was getting really cold. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat.Here’s to us. I went back to the room. I was for a time. and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. I started drifting off and isolating myself. as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries. Our glasses clinked for the toast. I thought. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air. he said. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep.No. . There were no stars. whatever that was. He got back into bed. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. and then he kissed me. know everything and be fully present. at the critical moment. turned away from me. The pain was not too bad.Don’t worry…I will be careful. At first. exciting sensation. but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight. 37 . But then. and the clouds were attacking the moon. and I went down. So this was what made the world go round.
last night. and all kinds of trivial questions. The sky was overcast. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. But can you come at 8:00 for breakfast? We realized we could get on a flight directly from Nice to Rome instead of going through Paris.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. when he was returning to California. I wanted to hide it from her. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. and rushed to my room. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. and off we went.Oliver was still asleep. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. and we need to be at the 38 . I got up and was mortified to see that there was a blood stain on the otherwise pristine white sheets of the prestigious Eden Roc Hotel. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. dressed in tennis whites. asking him where he was going. Somehow. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. I went into the bathroom. I know it is early. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. So he took me to the Martinez. under the covers. I picked it up. He did not argue very much. I picked up my key. this is Francesca. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. He noticed my expression of dismay. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. and put on my travelling clothes. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. it was already eight o’clock. This morning. It was five minutes to nine. so we left the top up. . We exchanged phone numbers. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. and I did not linger. but my mind was already with Francesca. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. and ran hot water all over myself. When I woke up to the sound of the shower. Oliver came out smiling and handsome. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. I led the conversation. I took a shower.
Sorry Francesca. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. sweetie…go for the good life.Ciao Christina! . and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. . and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. The words came out of me on their own. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. way out there on the Croisette. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. out of breath and disheveled. Oh my God! I had missed them…It was 9:05…Maybe there was still a chance…I rushed down the stairs without waiting for the elevator. Francesca was calm as usual. as now my cheek was right against hers. Marco was waving at me from the other side. I was relieved.Don’t be sad. The window started going up. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. once at the sign. The tinted glass was too dark. I was holding her very tight. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. but rushed and fell into her arms. and she disappeared behind it. to not have to wait for the red lights. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. Please come. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. I looked over to the other side.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca.airport at 9:30. . Finally. We can’t afford to miss this plane. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. There. Francesca spotted me immediately. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. . I crossed over on the beach side. I could not see inside. uncontrolled. Christina…but we need to go. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. then glided on toward Nice. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . I must have grown.
now that I was not only older. driving to school. way back then. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use. I had to find out her address. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio. I finished school eventually. looking despondent. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. I was so stunned. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. with some other family members that I did not know. after she had invited me. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. I did not have my passport with me. then I would insist that we do something about it. I could swear in one of the newscasts. but did not see him. but a real woman. I looked for Tomaso. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. I saw Marco. I had to return the car to my mother. I was in my car. I guess. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. I hated taking birth control pills. Why was I so eager to lose my virginity that night of all nights? Why did I insist on changing at the Martinez. and not mine. I was just alone. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. and now. I found solace in playing music and singing. I don’t think they would have been very supportive. aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. I stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. It was during a week of finals for me in California. and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. thus reducing to one minute what was to be my very last encounter with Francesca? Why didn’t I move Heaven and Earth to try to get her address or telephone numbers during those four years? Why the hell did she have to go to Ostia that night? There was a memorial service. But I did not do it of course. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. I think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. I did not attend. As it turns out. And if so. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. I was in the middle of finals. full of regret and unanswered questions. My mother did not attend.with each other. a languid feeling would come 40 . Besides. Sometimes. taller. Francesca was their friend.
In my case. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away.Francesca. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. way back then… Part 2: MODERATO All Dharma is a dream… Tibetan Proverb Chapter One Cafes are genuinely important to the quality of life in Paris. . no.over me to assuage my loneliness. In California where I live. with friends or alone. order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 . and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California. I had come to Paris. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way. and an eventual movie. There is no implication of the place being special. or read a book. amore. . athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. there are cafes.Life is good. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. Francesca would be there with me.No. tell me life is good. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. tell me in Italian! . even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. perfect. or cool. and to a semi-Californian it is always amazing to see and feel how animated the Paris streets are and how the passers-by.I do…I love you. or inhospitable for any reason. on that warm day in June. It was a beautiful sunny day. You can sit on the terrace and people watch. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. or even write one if so inclined. in the chic part of Silicon Valley. to visit family and old friends. across from Le Bon Marche department store. -Tell me that you love me… . Here in Paris. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. and I would imagine our dialog… . where I was born.
weathering flashes of interest. I don’t believe they were really interested either. leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. or even in San Francisco. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. I knew a lot about them. it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. started interfering with my side of the conversation. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. whether it is between women. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times.the crowds in Hollywood. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. wavering. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. Besides. like grey fruit ready to be picked. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. and Marie liked it. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. and the thought of her. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. insidious. After she left me. 42 . But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. show or otherwise. There were pigeons everywhere. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. men or whooping cranes.
Marie had a straight Greek nose. We were sitting at the narrow end of it. at the terrace of the Babylone. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. and even though it was not really elegant. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”. I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. He hates it. The woman was thin. She got up and went inside. She was drinking a café-crème. The anecdotes kept pouring in. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. Her expression was soft and bright. unlike Marie. She sat down. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. She came back very soon. and how I had met her. huge green eyes. across from the doorway. The terrace was fairly empty. and to be present in the conversation. and she had beautiful. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. She did not look like Marie in the least after all. I started telling the story. as if I was on stage. as if during an intermission. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. it made her face look exotic. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. the woman looked remotely like Marie. here it was again. I felt some relief. make it wild and funny. She looked at me very briefly. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. Her book was still there. a woman was sitting. and pursued the conversation. Unbelievably. which I did with some success. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. put on her Ray Bans. facing the rounded sidewalk. George and Francine were in stitches. Next to us. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. she was smiling while looking in my direction. She was reading a book. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. I had seen the movie long time ago. and the audience hates it too.I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. 43 . willing my thoughts away from California and back here. and they could do no wrong. He was asking me questions about a common friend.
and white tennis shoes. beige oversize canvas handbag.My heart started pounding. as if in a dream. in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. ready to 44 . Then before I even knew it. There I was right here in the land of my youth. George and Francine were getting ready to leave. But that was precisely what attracted me. grey sweater. But the train was prompt and ready. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain. I got up too. This is ridiculous. old people. their favorite mode of transportation. in this café. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. Just like that. in Paris. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. and I rushed into the station. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out. that I would have these feelings here. and shady characters. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. The insane. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. We came back. We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. Here. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. and the woman this time did not look up. nuns. I took in the white collar. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. I thought. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. We said goodbye again. secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. I am in love. tight black pants. I hopped on. and my mind was racing all over the place. we were gone.
here I am. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. Maybe I am attracted to the woman because I don’t know anything about her…Alison style…But what if she was a friend of somebody I knew? Shudder…What if. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. what if? Chapter Two The train. She is tres amusante!”. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. By the way. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. I automatically assumed the woman was French. which would also make me very uncomfortable. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. In a foreign language. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. for the first time since losing Alison. I’ve read all her books. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. where I belonged. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. What to do? What if I came back to the café. Besides. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . and it was all for a reason. and if things did happen for me. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. Everything happens for a reason. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone.
Up the stairs…No. I’ll have a café crème.running. she will be gone. and I bought the band where I live.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. and that is good. He does not seem to recognize me. but I have lived there for twenty years. I can’t aim properly in Turkish toilets (how do real people do it?) and it would not do any good to come back up with wet shoes. she can leave anytime. I said in English also. but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it. I was all wrong. God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. Someone gave me the face as a present. at the same table where I was with George and Francine. She still has not looked up. I come back up. I walk past her and go inside the café.Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. I’m not. Downstairs. with an empty café crème in front of her. tennis or not. Besides. pretending to make a phone call. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. She is still there. .J’aime votre montre. and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. I see the waiter bringing stuff. where does it come from? . I said in French. I sort of designed it. . mind you. s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. in California.Well. and she is reading the book. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch. It smells bad. it is dark. out into the sunlight. up. I sit down at the terrace. Up. here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. 46 . I can go twice as fast. but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before. asking me what I want.Excusez moi… She spoke to me. and said: .Quatre heures dix. I’ll run into George and Francine. In French as I feared. Ten past four. -No. It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… . The escalator. What do I do now? The waiter comes. but walking very fast. She does not look up. If I go fast. but she spoke to me! . If I go slowly. if I wait any longer.
my failed music career. I’m glad to meet you. my work at the theatres. nothing happens. I am one. she said. and whom I still cared about a great deal. and it gave her a visa. she said.Well. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends. fast and easy. I am from New York. no preparation. And then it came. The conversation flowed very easily.Oh. She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with. and it’s the end. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time. but it paid well. and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home.. it is very short. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. I introduce myself to her. She was beautiful. at the beginning of June. -Hi Christine. cheerful laugh.You speak French beautifully. seemed to have trouble swallowing. I said. I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. This man and this woman meet in a café. there was a lull in the programming. mind you. Right now. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. My name is Linda. 47 . She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. Her smile was absolutely devastating. with no warning. warm and maybe a little sad. I said in pure American ritual. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. she was from New York. an easy. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. I explained to her my situation. She took off her glasses and put down her book. Her name was Linda. -Linda. yes? . We laughed together. this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately. and I was not nervous anymore. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. no calculation. She did not look like Marie at all. . let alone working with the ones we love…She too. Linda said. I said: -Oh. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with.
wiser. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men. and come out of it all happier. and I felt so totally comfortable that I didn’t even resent the fact that the conversation started rolling on safer subjects. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. and still not die a horrible death in the end. But. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. 48 . how. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. women. I was supposed to go visit a friend. Four forty five. Here I was.Linda smiled. it’s all the same. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. I wanted to understand everything. I had come back to the café. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. or the woman who managed to be proven right. gloriously. -Not really. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. about Ridley Scott. strong and true. and said: -If that’s OK. The good part was that I had been open with her. . The street. open it up to the air. I had been brave. intelligence. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. and shook her head. So. as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. and how I liked most of his films. and kinder. these days. like movies and books. define it. I’d like to go with you. how he created the character of Ripley. I said it half heartedly. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. I looked at my mountain watch again. but I have no real recollection as to when. and who paid for what. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. and maybe I had just made a new friend. -Were you going alone? -Yes. simply. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. Courage. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine.
there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. -What happened with your boyfriend. Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. -I know the feeling. she said. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute.I was taken aback by the request. I said. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. it’s simple. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation. then he met this Italian model. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. I said that would be quite all right. The details were slim. and I might as well find out the details. Where did the train tracks use to be? I said I had no idea. the houselights went down. and we went all the time. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. I asked. Once we were seated. and now he is with her. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends. I did not feel nervous. I loved going to movies with Alison. Julien and I were together for two years. It’s no fun. but that the ground floor was probably a safe bet! It took all my energy to keep connected with the environment enough to pay for the tickets and reach our seats. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. When the lights dim in a theatre. It was very exciting. it was better than nothing. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. but it’s very recent. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. Sometimes. because I did not have any expectations. If we could be friends. My host was very sweet. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going 49 . and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. She smiled. and things are not yet very clear between us. -Oh. and the film itself was about to start. As I spoke. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. I felt always very close to her and we would hold hands and smile at each other in the darkness as the opening credits started. -Not really. I said. and I felt like visiting royalty.
but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the screen. I’m having dinner with a friend. The film was good. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. she grabbed my wrist. I have to run. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any 50 . and where anything was possible including friendship. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. and our cheeks would touch. and I held a stiff position most of the time so our legs would not touch and I could maintain an excruciating formal distance. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. It was only to look at my watch. and while the plot was progressing. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples. Equally seriously. I turned to her and thanked her too.I loved it. It was very sad. and I’m already very late. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. but I always kept it in check. it’s late. The temptation was not far. in a strange sort of way. Thank you very much for letting me come along. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes. because she stopped. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. The whole experience was strange.to movies again after she and Marie broke up. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. As we walked out into the still sunny street. you know” I did not have the time to answer. -Oops. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. Linda seemed to react. and rushed down into the Metro. She shook my hand formally. At the end of the film. -Well. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. I felt like I knew her. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . including love. nice meeting you too. violent at times. but somehow exhilarating and empowering. turned around. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them.
How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. Now. and very silently. I was. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. I did not know her last name.plans. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. stupidly. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. just to have someone to go to the movies with. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. honey. I had vanquished my own passivity. except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. let them go. for once. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. In a way. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner. They meet. She would listen to me very patiently. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. nothing happens. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. and not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. it felt to me that I could be one of these. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. nor exactly where she lived. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. it’s on theirs too!”. doesn’t appreciate you. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. How could I have lost her so soon! Chapter Three It was very difficult at home. But these days. But in a way also. So I would talk to her and try to make her see how valuable our relationship was. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. then she would have wanted to. why did I let this go? Why didn’t I have the nerve to ask when I could see her again? What could be the danger? If she was really straight. I always found this to be quite true. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. to keep my attention on anything. but it was too late. cruelty or indifference. and anything 51 . and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. and it’s the end.
Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. and you will have everything. and we had gone to a movie together. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. Be remote. she would contradict her previous statements. When Marie left her. she would be there. Yet my feelings were so strong. pleasure. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. I had an idea. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. No. and therefore undesirable. it was time for practical considerations. Bad timing. It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. Then. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. and that was why I liked her so much. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. 52 . and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. you said. Here’s to you. and that I was bound to lose every time. with a smile that electrified me and made me feel like I could conquer the world if I wanted to and therefore I did not even have to conquer it. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. I could go lurking there until she showed up. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. unattainable. Well. and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. maybe it was time for good timing now. No big deal. Above all else. and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me. I can still fall in love. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. I could see her face. If there was some truth to all this. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. you know. I always felt then. because I was open about my potential availability. What to do? And suddenly. Yes. the next day. Marie-like nose and all.
Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. Ah! But here I go again. “Village of the Damned”. I kept trying to sleep. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. and it still had that liberating. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. Sleep. rebellious aura to it. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. I’m not so hard to please after all. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. Don’t think about Alison. Maybe that was what life was all about. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. in a nondescript café. and every time I closed my eyes. There is nothing going on there. Stop. Then. 53 . but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. It was a risk to think that I could run into Linda again at the café and hope that she would want to see me there too. I am crazy. and look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. Linda…I don’t even know Linda.Or maybe she would not be there. and not take any risks. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. I could never forget it. not embark on the adventure whatever it is? It would be like pretending to Alison that I would never get back with her even if she was writhing at my feet and spitting on Marie when that was not really true. Something is going on there. that gave you some power even though you had none. which I guess soothed me a little. “Thelma and Louise”. Stop that too…One day. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. and in between movies. Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. risked. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. and the way I felt now. Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. What fun. Yet there were crazy things that could be done. It would give me something to do in the afternoons. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. uncertainty.
it was worth it. I must have slept for three hours all and all. My watch. Besides. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes. to have breakfast with my mother. At least you tried. I went down to the telephone. through the store almost running. I started feeling better. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. Besides. Out on the street. Maybe she was a regular. Create something different with life. something unique and wild. pretending again to make a phone call. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. Yes. Alison does not want me. do it all. Oh well. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. it was three thirty. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. big deal. It’s time. OK. It was there all right. 54 . I went in. spy at the TV station. I had the car today. and everything was going to be OK. She was not there. What else is there in the world than unique. look stupid and not know what to do with myself. Maybe rain was in the air this time. Marguerite Duras. and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. let’s go up and see. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. Too early. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. Ha ha. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. It was cloudy today. this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. Look up the listings. that would be fun. her loss! I will never see Linda again. and came back down to call a friend. lurk Rue de Nevers. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. wait. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. Friends were the only solid value these days. different. My mountain watch. Worried about parking. Francoise had advised me to go. I went upstairs. and stared at everybody. but not on the shelf. Maybe she was inside. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. Brick walls were not necessary. I’ll do what I can. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. She will tell you to get lost and you will. I walked up the stairs. It took forever to reach the bookstore. Five past four. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. Pocket books? Yes. No Linda.I woke up very early. Maybe he knew her. Parking was going to be a pain. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. So here I was. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. OK. go and go to the Babylone.
have lunch with some members of my family. I have too much to do. even though I did not quite understand it. Come on. and had a good time. a once in a lifetime spot. dejected. I went back down into the parking lot. drove the car out. The waiter came. It was too late. It was all a ridiculous fantasy. and I ordered a sparkling water. I went to a friend’s house for dinner. since I was so tired. I had my day organized in such a way. No one was there. That’s far enough. and schedules. and this time. and decided to go to the café. I slept better than the night before. however. theatres. I went and enjoyed the film. I was. at everything. I had parked it on the street. I had seen everything. pretending that I was someone else than I was. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: “So you are a regular here after all!” I 55 . but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. That’s that. Linda. It seemed forlorn and deserted. here it is second shelf from bottom. I bought the book. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. The next morning. I looked at my watch: four thirty. Here it is again. Alison.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. Quarter to five. on your right. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. be real. too late to go to the Babylone. I cannot wait any longer. I will not come back tomorrow. walking in that general direction. The car was the other way. I was going to be a normal person. I think from the inside of the café. furious at her. just in case. and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. The irony was just perfect now. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot. and sat at the terrace. all these figments of my fertile imagination. a fool with Linda. but what the hell. a fool all the way. I did not even look at anything. Like that. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. and just start reading it. Here’s a bookstore. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. Forget it. Let’s waste some more time. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. I checked the Pariscope for films. Twenty past four. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. I had the car again.
and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. A joke… What a joke. I was hoping to find you again. Are you a regular here? . interesting and interested. Here it was! It was late. the universe. . lugging that huge bag.I’ll tell you what. Yet here she was. .Five o’clock. and touched my arm gently. and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. . . I had forgotten their power.was too shocked to answer anything at all. It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the 56 .No. soft. I laughed. .Well. everything fell into place. What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling. all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say. . she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag. She looked great.Yes. Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating. looking straight into my eyes. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up. it was like the world.See you then! She was gone.No problem. Now is the time to enjoy things. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. I am. but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”. “What time is it?”. soothing. with no shirt collar underneath. I’ll be here! She got up.Well. I won’t stand in the way. She laughed. Her eyes were made of cool green. but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half. I knew I had bought it for a reason. and it is happening. This is what was meant to happen. intelligent. exciting. I felt so incredibly strong. Life is really starting now. I turned around. as a matter of fact. Her smile hit me again. Linda said as she sat down next to me. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. I did not know how to get in touch with you. maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! . Her manner of approach was not very varied. I have to meet someone for work now. not really.
dead wrong. Not everything should be explainable anyway. what if Alison was just a con artist and in Marie she had found a soul mate? What if I was really the intruder and did not know it? What if Linda was only using me as bait.present. I was happy to see that all and all. I guess that’s possible. but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. that woman is obscure. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. to think that one could replace the other. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. but it won a major award. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. I should know. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. Alcohol. and tried very hard not to think for a while. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. But what if. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. I liked it. God. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. and if she was. like everything else is good in small quantities. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. in some strange way. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. who was she anyway? Can we really instinctively know if people are good on first impression? I could tell from a mile away that Marie was operating on a level that was different from the one I was on with Alison. I won’t disappoint you. like Katharine Hepburn used Elizabeth Taylor in “Suddenly Last Summer”? Maybe she was trying to get her boyfriend’s new girlfriend interested in women so she would leave him alone? I was getting goofy and was thinking of ordering some alcoholic drink to calm my nerves. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . and that it was wrong. but no one can really explain to you what they are. Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. I wonder why Linda was reading it. I said to the preciousness of the moment. The narrative was ominous.
and ask me to dinner out of the blue. She smiled as if she understood. everyone is all of a sudden always younger than you. The brick wall was in place. heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. what does one do? Light a cigarette. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me.I was curious to read what you were reading. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. I did not hate it. . But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. Here’s the waiter. suddenly she was back. so I don’t have to wonder anymore. It’s OK. Everything seemed to come very easily around her. It may seem like a long time now. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. just in case I had to leave fast. she’s beautiful. I was rambling on and on. We’ve all got bad luck. Somehow. and I was careful to pay right away. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great.“Moderato Cantabile”. 58 . but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. Could I trust Linda? And trust her with what? I seem to have trusted her quite a bit already! What time? Five thirty only! Time slows down till it dies… The little park Boucicaut was getting ready for the end of the day. I was not hungry. I’m sure. Linda is coming back soon. What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. Should I prepare for good things. and then. Ah. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight. I did! What a relief. forget it. and the people were walking out of the Bon Marche with bags and packages of all kinds. But when you get to be forty. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. money and fame. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. getting slightly crazy. especially in love. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me. before I even had the time to really worry… . I was starting to feel a little bored. nothing ever works for us. Five minutes. with battlements and all.everything. that’s how long it takes. Damn! How many sparkling waters can I drink without having to use the Turkish toilet? A stroke of genius: a café crème! Another tribute to Linda the unknown… The waiter brought it. ten if you really nurse it. not thirsty. The pigeons seemed to have calmed down.
nothing. I had thought. Ricard or Pernod. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. all of a sudden.. made from various plants including artichokes. Pastis . We needed something to link us together. The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again.Oh. and I remember forcing myself to like it. why don’t we just go inside and have an aperitif before it’s time to go to dinner? I need to shift gears after spending all this time alone with Marguerite and her wishy-washy characters. This woman loves me and I love her. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. light. The thought of going now seemed impossible to me. Pastis . Alison…Alison. I offered. I was far from hungry. I was nervous. I felt shy. Linda was looking at me in a strange way. . feel somewhat connected. I had looked at her. and we had a nice conversation about these drinks. the bastard sons of absinth. Her face was soft and gentle. This is life. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. 59 . at some point during my adolescence. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant.Where shall we go? It was early still. and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. It used to be in vogue. without water or ice. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule. . . and you can make it just the right strength. We had done pretty well going to the movies. for the first time since we had met. diluted in water is refreshing. She was sitting on her haunches. Tailor made. She heartily agreed and we went inside. Linda laughed. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun.It is still early. I think I’ll have a Pastis. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet.What’s going on? I lied. I had something to lose. the liquor of oblivion. but never explained by schoolteachers. listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. but this was different.
I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. Everything was just fine. and one silver ring on the right hand. and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. and I had nothing on her.It looked like mud. and she kept pushing it back. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship. where is home now? Linda was explaining something. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence.I was so busy yesterday. everything was always new and exciting. I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. trimmed nails. Work was not really work. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends. with long. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye. tell me more about yourself… 60 . I can only kiss your shadow. daring and devastatingly original. “As the room is softly fading. I said she could never have a Fernet ever. It was getting dark. Her hands were beautiful. Alison was home. smiling. describing it all with great hand gestures. thin fingers. saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. poems. because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. I worked for ten hours in a row. . as far as I knew. at least in my thoughts. I was letting myself stare at her. I was amazed at the effect she had on me. She was looking up. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. Hell.So. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. It felt great to watch her do that. Songs. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. I said. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. I’m glad I had some time today. and still live a perfectly happy life. Yet. Home…I guess California was home to me now. In the open. or will she send me a note ten years from now. But what was she really thinking? Do people really do this sort of thing? Did she feel lonely for some American or semi-American company? What was really going on? Will I ever find out. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles. .
as if anything we shared 61 . Both her parents were still alive. who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . So.Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. Christopher. I need the other person to be a part of it too. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. I’m not a power seducer. to meet me halfway. I only had my mother. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. not at all. patron saint of transportation. . There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns. As I was telling her everything I could think of. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas.No. third generation American. and the drinks were giving us a nice buzz so we decided it was time to go to dinner. and she learned some about me. Hell. We paid and got up. as she asked me about my parents. where we went to school. Sorry. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin. Linda. For some reason at first. and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”. as in St. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… . That’s the fun part. One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her. and religions are full of them. but I didn’t go. Take a couple of steps. oh no. so I have none to tell.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. It did not really matter to us whose family had money. give me some clue… . On and on we went. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. but that I would do it for her sake. and all that. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. I just like all these legends and stories. the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless. I felt better than I had in years about them.Oh. where they came from. and her last name was Christoforos.Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . I learned bits of trivia about her. as my father had passed away a few years earlier. an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ.
and the best was yet to come. always seem to win out. But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. as if we were saving ourselves for later. I shall love who loves me. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. whom I love more. as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. How is it that our lives are so strange? That proclaiming that we are screwed up is like a final pronouncement that leaves us feeling like half beings. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. because they don’t already know me like you do”. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing anything. our familiarity the kiss of death. We had the evening ahead of us. as we were walking into the Closerie. Could it be this straight woman stepping into this restaurant with me with no history at all behind us? Does history matter one way or the other? Shame did not seem to be part of Linda’s experience. and I knew it was the beauty from inside. I would reply that I could go either way. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. convention. and if it is not you it won’t be you. history.contributed to bring us closer. staring at me softly with no fear. It meant “Your love is a waste of time. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. and I would go home feeling powerless. Can you read 62 . the mahogany and green. and will never lead to anything”. our history was like a curse. Getting to the car. or “I won’t”. we were laughing at everything. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. I had no history with Linda. It seemed that to her. She looked just fine. but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. She would shut me up. unable and unwilling to change and create new possibilities? We can do anything if we learn to notice and appreciate our gift for happiness. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. yet none of it meant anything to her. the one that was beyond looks. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. Alison.
which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night. We decided on oysters on the half shell. I was trying to overhear their conversation. but a regular if expensive commodity here. and were given a very nice table on the verandah. salads. Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other.it too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat. and I had developed an aversion to them. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way. a great luxury in California. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. . .Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! .Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out. and we are both going to leave and say goodnight. Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne. as if things were getting a little hard to handle. The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic. Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary. Yet this time. and he was talking directly to me. and Linda turned back to me smiling. he said au revoir. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky. 63 . The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. Finally. the pianist was playing “Crazy”. Next thing I know. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening. Linda was looking at the menu. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. but with a desperate sigh. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. a song I could definitely identify with.What’s happening? I asked. after discussing the weather.
knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting.Well. Come clean. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. I was puzzled at myself. nothing. that’s how friends call me. Why did I have these feelings.Yes. . come clean. designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. that’s Pierre. accentuating the nickname humorously but still quite rudely because I was irritated that in the first place she had said “My friends call me Lindy” as if I could never dream of being accepted amongst this very exclusive group. that’s the only way out of this.Oh. I don’t happen to know you very well. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time. . I sighed and got a grip on myself. . and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be.You know. and had not even introduced me to him.. even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time. Also.What do you mean Lindy? I said. She kept looking at me as she was drinking. that’s just it. it sort of hurt my feelings. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. you know. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. 64 .Here’s to the weirdness of life. she said. He is a friend of Julien’s. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. which did include a little bit of anxiety. . it’s funny. the evening might degenerate into a weather report… Linda started laughing and her eyes filled up with tears as she raised her glass of champagne. . and that look set everything back on track for me. . I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look.He calls you Lindy? . I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now. I like it better than Linda Louise.
was she? . Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet. so he can help.. as if anything he had to say would hurt me. He sees Julien all the time.But were there ever times when things were good? 65 . care.She was when she would start saying that she had no free will and that Marie was somehow pulling her strings even though she made her feel miserable.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case.You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… . and delicate handling. But. It felt as if she was already dead. or worse. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday. as usual. . manipulative. Don’t. superficial and boring. like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. he did not say anything more about it. It all sounded so familiar. just removed. He just talked about himself. and especially why they did it. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. solid. whether it is romantic or not.I guess I am still angry at them. I shared some of these thoughts with Linda. encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse. and beautiful. as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter. Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues. I feel that we all need each other’s help. as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. . and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole. It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone.But Alison was not boring. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. Still. his own problems with his girlfriend. But they don’t want the case solved. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. . and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude.
could fuel the present with spirit. if they were good and true.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. mainly marijuana. pure. and came out of it all sweet. Everything became magical. was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. unemotional. Sexually. I stopped talking. But when she was herself and connected. as if the memory of past loves.Does it worry you that you liked it? 66 . and full of questions.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly. Alison. . and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. she could be a hedonist. I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. leaning her head to the side. . generous and seemingly invincible. She was not eating but was swallowing hard. I told her about Yosemite. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. Alison was often languid. emotionally unleashed. She did have a gift for happiness. For some reason. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. always mysterious. about Alison’s good sides from our past. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. beyond conventions. in whole. though… . vulnerable. she became soft. . Linda was staring at me intensely. the way her face would light up with youthful energy. I can’t say I did not like it. and her voice was getting so low I was terrified that I was not going to be able to hear what she had to say. and an endless belief in the goodness of this world. wonderful madness. and was interested in everything. the food arrived. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there. .As she said that. a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective.It was hurried. before Marie. passion. with unbelievable beauty. passionate and elegant at the same time. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. that of the soul within.You know. and maybe this is why wine was invented after all. I described my joy at seeing her. she said.
and all that. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. this and that. It was wild. You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”. and I just went on my merry way. . but I was more involved with the other one. movies. Her name was Lisa. I ran into her at a party. There was no music playing anymore. It was a little sad. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them. to hide my fear of vulnerability. The first one only once. disturbing dream. The champagne was almost gone.. but I decided that being honest and straightforward was the only way I was going to make the evening end well one way or the other. two. we were afraid to cross a certain threshold. . After all.How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured. with a very loud laugh.A little bit. Somehow. forget the whole thing.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. but we were both trying to ignore that power. . 67 . which had not in any way altered our reality. Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. I was not with anyone at the time. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances.I went back to New York. She was with some guy. I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful. We had finished our food. because she was getting married the next week. and started working for a TV station there. plays. especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. . I was threading on thin ice. I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction. I met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something.What happened after that? . She told me that she hoped I was happy. and I was kind of happy to see her. I tried to agitate some memories.Oh. I guess we did our best to communicate in a meaningful way! We stayed together at a friend’s apartment in Santa Monica for a full week. You know. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. it was in her past and not in her present.
and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. .She took her time to answer. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela.I am sorry it ended like it did. It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between.Would you want to get back with him? . Back off. . back off. but very self involved. and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment. with women it is different. Finally. and how the grass was always greener on the other side. . and say: “Hey”. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. Julien was a good guy. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . she said. She went on talking about herself and Julien. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja. We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us. I guess. Maybe if I was Marie. But I am probably kidding myself. A bad sign. That would have been a lie. Come on fate. I got it. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. But I wanted my wild horses free. give me a break this time. The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize. you know. Linda’s eyes were filling up. and how attractive they were. I realized how hurt I still was about Alison. It must have been rough on you.I don’t know. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her.Well not really. Lindy. until she finally gave in and kissed me. Of course. 68 . Knock on wood. as in reality it was seldom like that.Well. This says it all. I could not say: believe me Lindy. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. He was a journalist of some kind. I would like him to come back so I could say no. The tamer and the tamed. OK. She said it always bothered her. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. I thought. and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. loud and clear. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. maybe I don’t either! I said. and in the prairie. and plant my face in front of hers. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. Give me something. he had decided to cross over to the other side. Not in the circus.
to make this into a good. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. When the reversal finally came however. Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. I’d give anything to own it. and she did not seem too scared of it. People seemed to be having fun. so back into hell I went. anxious about the way the evening would end. She came back upstairs. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. whichever way it would go. usually for a short time. smiling and looking around too. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich. I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. how forward can I be. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers. as if we both had the same impression. just to be 69 . was like giving in to the forces of evil. and we were ready to go outside. Sometimes. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. . We were silent on the way to the car. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. it was comfortable. . and a code keypad to keep the burglars out. and you have to live with your impression after that. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. where I was to drop her off.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear. this is where I live! The building looked very old. with an old doorway. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love.Here. maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. incredibly alone and rejected.It is very nice. like a good antique. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope. sagging a little. when we connected. You have to come see it some time. I felt betrayed and cheated. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. I drove straight into the narrow passage.
None did. our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to 70 .Well. honest. It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building. She went to the door. As the door opened. I like the Babylone. she turned to me and said: . and it felt good. In a panic.Talk to you soon. The least I need to do. good night. and headed for home. She suddenly got out of the car. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on.You take care too… She was gone.Yes.Will you give me your phone number. as if I had cheated myself on something.Yes. let’s! I said. . The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. . but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers. Was there anything I could have done to make this better and clearer? Was I cautious because of a correct instinct that I had to be very careful because of the lack of obvious invitation in her manner? Was I only careful because of my natural cowardice and homophobia? After all. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment. and then gave me a good. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. dead in its tracks.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it. She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes. I got back to the car. . We have to do it again. and give me yours too. California style hug. This was a lot of fun. I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did. I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. but all the same. take care… Her voice became very soft. OK? . she said. I held her tight. it was just a hug. I felt empty and incomplete. . I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. is get her phone number this time. I did too. fished the key out of her giant purse.
and would only affect our lives negatively. But the brick wall had a breach. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. or at least a clear. by making some kind of a move. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. And also of course. who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me. Otherwise. screams. Everything that happened in the hallway. with a common toilet for the whole floor. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison. if the lesbian in charge sits there waiting for her to take the first step? I remember hearing from Alison how her first woman lover had to literally pounce on her to make anything happen. he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin. This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. hurried steps. freedom. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. The architect had thought it all out very well. But in the servants’ area. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. right next to my ear. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have. In my mother’s building. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. (I now took the liberty of calling her Lindy to myself and it felt quite good) I had found it very hard to sleep and to make any sense of the whole adventure.come out and give their names openly. How I sat there 71 . gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head. After my dinner with Lindy. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. intellectual adventure you-name-it. At times. You could hardly hear the neighbors. honest verbal overture. It could have been great. the City of Light and Glamour. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum.
Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. Paris. of all places. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. nothing was lost either. and swear to be with me forever. Other times. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. life is too short to stop yourself from doing what you want even if it is only for the moment!”. but definitely mutual. until she finally would have to give in. let’s get on with some real fun. then if nothing was gained. she had sought me out. Besides. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. In fact. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element. she had already done the infamous deed. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. and made a point of showing me that I was always the last thing on her mind…How could she not treasure what we had and want to preserve it in spite of the Marie interruption which might have been a good thing in the end. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. because it could bring us so much closer when it was over? But I guess people can’t look forward to what they are not aware of. however. On the other hand. She would come to me when she was ready. with somebody else. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. There was some history that I had to contend with. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. If she did not. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. as long as I kept the messages true.laughing at her crude approach. if not always clear. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. So far. Yet to me. even if she knew what could happen between us. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. Maybe it was just 72 . and how unexpected…In Paris.
Why should I wait for her to call? Telephones work both ways…I wish I could talk to Ruthie right now and get some encouragement…What would she say? The same thing Francoise had said. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. The days went by. These devices are great. American in Paris. there is only one way to find out. Go ahead. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it. Should I give up on the whole thing? Why hasn’t she called? I kept wishing that I had an answering machine in Paris. and she hadn’t called. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. Ruthie says: you might not win. Here it was…An answering machine. talking to them. still nothing. you have nothing to lose. as I had in California. Sunday came and went. I kept myself busy. husky. I cannot come to the phone right now. after our dinner. this is Linda. saying only as much as was safe to say. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. All right. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. Ruthie. more movies. lay off. “Hello. A bonanza for shy people. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. and started applying my methods for not thinking. all right. I was dialing her number. seeing friends and family. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. Have a good time. I felt discouraged. tsk.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. I’m going to do it. but it’s like the Lottery. and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. but if you would like to leave a message 73 . without much success. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. and leave a lot to the imagination. No such luck. You could prepare your message in your head. and I almost had a couple of accidents. straight woman in tennis shoes. If you don’t play. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. yet totally unaffected. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. Lindy Christoforos. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. and leave it on the machine.
Again. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. and tucked her cold feet back in. I had come back to the café all right. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. No call the next day either. and leave it to fate. please do so after the beep”.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. and that there was none to waste. If she claimed not to be interested. “après le bip sonore”. It would be a waste. she is just like Alison. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart. And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it. Once you had mastered step one. I hope everything is OK. Waiting for phone 74 . Please call me”. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. I said. I had not asked to start this. Two days later. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. She had picked me up. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. Please call me in the mornings. First. the machine answered. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. things became more manageable. Second. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. and to not give in to disguises. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. then to dinner. and how terrified I had been that I was going to become one of those infamous lesbians forever if I did as much as admit that I was in any way attracted to her. we’ll see. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. but there was nothing I could do about it. as she repeated the last part in French. Oh well. just like Alison. And at least. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. well I just had to go with that. I hung up. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. attractive voice she had. Once more. reluctant to leave my room. there was no other word for it. and later with Angela. “Hope to hear from you soon. and I don’t get anything out of it. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly. I left my message in English. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. cover ups and rationalizations. I was going crazy. Hopefully. “I think we should talk about things a little more. What an exotic. The thought was infuriating me. I found myself dialing her number again.
are you kidding? This is great. deciding at times. Don’t call us. with a lot of Alison dreams. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… . Then. but after all she was not French. of disconnection. especially now that I have your phone number again.I would love to.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. early in the morning. I kept myself busy all day again. she does not want me. . It was Lindy. Dream on. adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.You mean tomorrow? . 75 . “Same here” she said very sweetly. we’ll call you. Saturday as in tomorrow.Yes. the phone rang while I was still half asleep. It is the daily grind of the betrayed.No. Sometimes. just for old time’s sake. We hung up. I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. ha. dreams of rejection. Once more.Fine. . Well. and that was it. I enthusiastically agreed. if she does not want me. How are you? . I slept with great difficulty.Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . . “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . A little early for a French date. of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams.Well. ha. She does not know what she’s missing. and you are not listed. that there was no more hope. But things could be arranged… . she was ahead of me and surprised me. I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband.Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. Right. I said goodbye.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. She did not seem afraid or disturbed. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being.
and that it was very seldom the other way around. after a sleepless night. threatening to rain. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. After lunch. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation. In my mind. it gave her a more assertive attitude. The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. I took my mother with me to see a movie. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. Neither of us really liked it. a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. The weather was overcast. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. and who knows.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. I was going to have the car. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. I called Francoise to reschedule our plans for the next day. normal people. as a friend. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. extremely noisy. had much cleaner. and the stigma had stayed with me. it was much more fun to go there. The clocks once more. I felt that other people. and inviting her was out of the question. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays. How was I going to spend the day. I had lunch with some friends from high school. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. Besides. seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. I knew something had to be done and that the situation had to evolve fast. I decided not to 76 . if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated.
The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. I went back onto the quay.Lindy? . At the end of this drive. Is that you? I described my predicament. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. and left in the still crowded evening. It was locked. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. She was on the last floor. She looked 77 . she said without questioning my use of the nickname. there is Lindy Christoforos. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now. and told me it was on the fifth floor. Sorry… She hugged me. I punched in the code. . an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. I needed to get to a phone and call her.Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. and searched the side streets to no avail. Here we go. think of the time it will take to find a parking place! I said goodnight to my mother. I started feeling present and alive again. I could be fashionably late. life was beginning to make sense again. as I went into the apartment.Allo? . Seven twenty five. unlucky in parking saying after all. Everything was all right. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge. feeling much better. and finally found a place on the other bank. I realized I did not have the code. It felt and I felt a little bit slanted. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. which was definitely worth checking out. she sounded very sweet. Oh. Smiling. I cultivated my anger at Alison.Yes. I had to make change and go downstairs to call. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. . welcoming. left. and leave everything to the moment. and tried to open it. As I drove. It was almost a quarter past seven. She answered. I walked back. the tangled webs… I drove all the way into the Rue de Nevers. waiting for me. I arrived at her door. I decided to cross the bridge. and did not know where the apartment was. as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy. Fortunately. the carrier of Christ. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love. and started going up the ancient staircase.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. She gave me the code.
stunning in the golden light, at home barefoot and in jeans, a white shirt, and a proprietary air about the place, that gave her even more presence and beauty. The apartment was an attic with beams, and a whitewashed ceiling. The floor was covered with antique red hexagonal tiles, with a Navajo rug here and there. The floor was at a different level in each room, and the walls were decorated with paintings by unknown painters, the Picassos of the future, a great investment for her friend Igor. The windows were looking out on the roofs and the river. The night was misty, soulful and mysterious. Lindy was taking me into the kitchen, which was not really a kitchen, but opened up into the large living room. The lighting was soft and subdued, with candles and dimmed lamps. She had some Slavic women’s choir softly playing on the stereo. I was expressing my enthusiasm about the place. - You can see why I’d love to have this as my own. Unfortunately, Igor is coming back this fall. - Then where will you live? - Good question. Julien and I used to live together, so I don’t know where I will end up. The kitchen looked like it belonged in a medieval castle and not this penthouse apartment. There seemed to be a whole dinner prepared on the counter, a salad bowl, oysters, clean dinner plates, and a bottle of Bordeaux. I looked puzzled. - Oh yes, she said, since this is Saturday night and it’s madness and lines everywhere, I thought we would have dinner here instead of going out. Is that OK? - I think it’s perfect… We sat down for a while on the couch and had glasses of wine. The moment was truly magical. Outside, I could hear the horns, the senseless agitation, and the meaningless frenzy of Saturday nights in a working town. Inside, there was this feeling of safety with underlying excitement. Nothing can really go wrong. It’s all here, ready to go, just enjoy the ride and don’t pretend you are not really on it. I had asked Lindy how she had been since the last time, and she was telling me. The level of intimacy had definitely risen, even though things were still quite formal between us. She had seen Julien, and had had lunch with him.
- He was all right, and making a real effort to redefine our relationship. I kept being torn between asking him about Sonja and refusing to talk about her. What would I need to know about her, except that she is richer, more famous, and more beautiful than I am? I don’t need to hear that. I wanted to tell Lindy that I thought she was quite beautiful herself, but I kept quiet, saving all my nerve for later. We went on for a while, comparing Alison and Julien, and their ways. I described to Lindy, how Alison had made a specialty of rejecting me and never missing an occasion to tell me how she never really was in love with me not now and not ever. If Alison hinted at a conversation she had had about us, I always hated myself for asking what had transpired. Somehow it came down to “This will hurt your feelings, because I don’t really love you”. Sure enough, my feelings got hurt really badly, and I hated myself for ever believing that there was more to it than “It was fun for a while, and then it was not fun anymore, so I left you for somebody who was new and more fun”. The fact that Marie was one of the most abusive people I had ever heard of did not seem to figure into her reasoning. The fact that instead of being angry at Marie for leaving her and treating her poorly she took it out on me did not seem to cross her mind. Yet, yet, there were times when I could have sworn that she loved me, that we loved each other body and soul, that we meant the world to each other. Where was the truth and where was reality? Could there really be two realities? - Don’t you think, said Lindy, that there can be two realities, one that is real, in harmony with some kind of universal flow, and one that’s an illusion…? The hard part is to decide which one will hurt us the least. I think that Julien was happier with me than he is with Sonja, however right now, he needs to do this. Somehow, it did not bother me that she sounded still so involved with Julien. I felt safe because she had not pretended to be in love with me or anything of the sort. We had a clean slate. I was still nervous because I felt my grip on reality had been loosened by my experience with Alison, and I was not sure that my instincts were in any way to be trusted. It was a little bit like driving a Mack truck on a mountain road in the fog while blindfolded. How good a driver was I really? Did loving women always include power games and drama? Was drama really the most desirable thing in the world? I felt that the only way to protect myself against drama and meaningless pain was to tell the truth clearly about what I
wanted. At least, I could pull myself out of a game that I did not know how to play. Then, and this was the hardest part, I had to train myself to deal with the reactions to what I had said. Rejection is never fun for anyone, but I keep hoping that there is some way to limit the extent of the damage. If the reactions feel cruel, shallow or beyond the pale standoffish, then I have to realize that these were not my people and that I was mistaken to be involved with them in the first place. It was probably a symptom of my own sickness that I still loved Alison. Was Lindy a symptom of my sickness, or a definite sign of recovery? The only way to find out was to level with her, and I was committed to doing just that tonight. There are moments in life when some kind of weird strength takes over, and you just know that the truth is the only thing that will do. We can’t afford to mess with lies, when we only have three weeks to express ourselves…Indeed we should never mess with lies at all, because what can seem like an extensive lifetime does not feel much longer than three weeks when the time comes to leave graciously… We decided to have dinner. There was a table, set French style with a tablecloth, right in front of the largest window, and it was overlooking the slate roofs above the Rue Guenegaud. As we were taking dishes and stuff out of the kitchen, we would touch slightly by accident as we would reach to get something from the counter. The power of the feeling scared me, and I wondered if she experienced the same thing. Yes, Ruthie, I am still wondering. After all these years… Lindy was sitting at the table across from me. We were talking about absolutely everything. Julien and Alison were of course recurring subjects of our analysis, but somehow, I think neither of us was bothered by the reference to the other person. It was almost as if bringing it all out into the open was somehow purging, cleansing, liberating. We were eating and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. There were times when Alison and I would get together and do things, but she would often start daydreaming, or scanning the crowd for somebody she was dying to see, probably Marie and her new girlfriend. Lindy and I were talking about others, yet we were present and relishing each other’s company, at least for the time being. We were going over everything. She was actually asking me what it was like to live one’s life identified as a lesbian.
gay or straight. Brahmin or Untouchable. we checked out Igor’s bookcase. so exclusive and unreal? .. At that moment. We sat on the couch. cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. sipping some old cognac. Why? I don’t know…Maybe for the same reason someone like Gandhi thought the lowest among us were the chosen ones that would show the world the way to Truth. the world and everything else. I poured us some more wine. it would sound so horrible and abusive. I said. side by side. trying to stay relatively cool. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. and found some books in French and English that we had read. why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified. and I agreed with her.Sometimes.It sounds to me. I still think gay women should be above all this.You’re right…Of course. a tough biker type with tattoos.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however. I felt very close to Lindy. full of resentments and judgments about 81 .Oh well. I think gay women are so screwed up. that the key to all this is the same. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon. Compared to her. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. and the other ones to hate themselves in response. that I would have been better off straight. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on. and talking about ourselves. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed. After dinner. like you know. one to hate. it depends. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . . If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman. really. The straight world has gone beyond that. Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile. I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing. you’re right! But for some reason. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy. This Alison thing has made me question everything. Somehow. Yet she hangs on. I didn’t care. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. some that we had never read but wished we had. . both parties have to agree.
The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. so you can always enjoy that special moment. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. . . and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. and devoid of any expectation.everything and everyone. .Is that good or bad? . and emotional release. even though I would be at a loss to explain why. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings.And now? . in our review of the world and the past. The silences were easy.Now my mind seems empty. evaluating he changes in my mood. empty glass in hand: 82 . as it had a few times before. The magical courage came back to me. quite peaceful. Behind her I saw a clock. all I could think about when I got here was whether or not I would ever sleep with you… She smiled. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. and answers to the riddles of the world. and more of a promise of serenity.I was thinking of how. Panic seized me. protective of each other. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone.It feels good. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. yet compassionate of others. prophecies. from the simplest to the most difficult.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. We felt. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. As I was speaking.What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. . for whatever reason. Lindy. and lit an after dinner cigarette. one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. easily. There was silence in the room. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. . There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. I asked her permission. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other. ease. She seemed kind. I could hear her breathe. I should go. generously.
my heart was pounding away. and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. dream like…like life itself. and leave her cheek right there. fullest kiss one can imagine. When we finally pulled apart after quite a while. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers.Aie! Goodness. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. without pulling back. The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. and I have to be there. she had the nerve to give me a hug. I’m sorry… . Instead. embraced in a final hug. I mumbled something about helping with the dishes. and turned around to say goodbye… . We are shooting some location footage for the archives.No. I had no idea where the car was. bright as day. and she. Oh. sweetest. The cathedral was still lit. thanks to some inner pilot who was taking over my feet. and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. I felt some huge wave of unreality wash over me as I walked across the bridge. illuminating the river banks. In Paris.. I am sorry to keep you up so late. when we found ourselves involved in the softest. 83 . and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing. all was said and done. I was putting on my jacket. I did start toward the bridge. she opened it. We both laughed. I did not work. climbing up the stairs out of breath. I bounced out into the cold night. and imaging myself getting up. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. We were both rewarded for our courage. against mine. gathering my things. and I was down the stairs before I could even think of looking back to see if she was still there and catch a last glimpse of her. and had very little tolerance for the obligations of those who did work…Why did she have to get up early tomorrow of all days? The sneaky impatience was coming back. “I’ll call you” she whispered. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. but she said she would take care of it all. We walked to the door together. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. its searchlights on.Thank you. I would constantly wake up. I had a wonderful evening.
but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous. I was wondering if you could possibly come over… .Yes but… . You remember the code? . if you don’t know what I mean. . On the third night. but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable.I was hoping it was you in person too. You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar. it felt like a dream. until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor. and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… .Now? She sounded as if she was joking. drank nothing. Closing in… Suddenly. saw and heard nothing. well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” . Hi! I was hoping it was you… .What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. walk everywhere. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing.It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams. If she is home. My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations. My only comfort was to walk. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing.I think we need to help things go where they want to go… My ears were pounding with the bass drum of my heart.Well. but in dreams everything always seems so normal.Yes. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught… 84 . It was half past ten. The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado. I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times.Lindy? . How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? . I knew. I saw some friends. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number.Come only if you want to. how are you? . She knew.Well. Again.
and sat me down on the couch. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city.Sometimes. like a special favor to me.This is OK. I turned right on the bridge. and I was already used to it. right? You’re not scared or anything. and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. and escaped into the shiny night. My mind was blank. a jacket. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. jeans. things get really clear for me. I was staring at her.Hey. and I was ready for it. The monuments on the river bank were all lit. in awe of her poise. Paris never sleeps. directly into the Rue de Nevers. grabbed both of my wrists. I could never have imagined that you… . I regained my composure. She closed the door.. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations. started the car. and yet the streets were still crowded. her beauty. . 85 . The world never sleeps. Paris would never be the same again. I put on a T-shirt.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again. shoes…I was going through the motions. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. I knew exactly where I was going and why. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions. and said “All right…” with relief. In this new life. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle. Life had just become different in the past half hour. are you? . This is what I want to do right now. . It was on a weekday. and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. You know. but not like a native either. I went down to the garage. where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk. and left. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. there were no cops to give you parking tickets. I was not particularly nervous.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris.
like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. and keeping her eyes on me. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. young. making a game of folding each item neatly. carefully. I had seen it done many times in movies. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. we sat on top of the bed facing each other. the one who could share. shook her head gently and let her hair down. Then. Why hadn’t she simply called me first? 86 . No performance anxiety or uneasiness. When we were done. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship. and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. the one who savored all that life had to offer. through the skylights. We undressed slowly. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come. I asked Lindy how she could have had the nerve to ask me to come over so directly after I had spent three agonizing days of hesitation about calling her. I had a thought for Alison. It was late. Yet there was the recognition of love. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. while we were still together. but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there. it was thick. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. Sleep meant relaxing. dawn finally won over the darkness. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture. and fluid like water. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. heavy. Lindy reached behind her head. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. So we simply stuck to words for a while. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking.Suddenly. and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. We barely knew each other.
. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… . rolling around in her pleasure as in lukewarm tides of Caribbean surf…I was amazed that she did not seem to suffer the agony of “is this all right?” and the fear that every woman lover of women must feel at some point: the fear of the reversal. I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances. but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her. that will be it. If she calls me. pleased with herself. it feels like I have come home to the place that I have been wanting to visit for so long… Lindy did not seem to suffer from any fear of having converted herself to a low form of human being. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. the betrayal.It seems to me that we are on a sailboat. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear… 87 .Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. if she doesn’t call me. then it will be a sign and I swear that I will do the rest of the work. she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit. and were now collecting the fruit of our labor.You did.. who was smiling at me as she was asking the question. I guess we both had done a good day’s work. We were very different people from the night before. Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… . and I will never go back. I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. It was a crime against me and Lindy. as usual. I feel like time has stopped. We were swimming in warm waters. and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. . She was definitely innocent of any such crime.What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. Instead. the I only wanted to be friends – what have you done to me – I’d rather not see you again rite of passage. plague that can break the most wonderful attempts at liberation. and take it all the way.I’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. in a cocoon of softness.To me. rite of shame. And somehow. Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother. nor will I wish to… .
.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. On the contrary. I would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave. None of it seemed to matter one bit. this comfort. It was evident that what really counted. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies. or worse yet. Everybody else could stay in the dark. looking for my familiar insecurities. No evil could ever come of it. fear that I will turn against you. so indestructible. I could not find any. but that she would be afraid that he would ask her to bring me over to his house so he could watch us and do it with us. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. and I would have a normal day. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay. She was laughing and we felt so strong.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. or straight or anything. and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together. In fact. but I could not find that many at all. All I could find was a welling up of happiness. this freedom. We were making plans of the greatest importance.. that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. we could spend 48 hours together in a row. The day was really here. Afterwards. what God or whoever meant for us to feel. and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment.Fear of what? . We sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner. Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened. it 88 .You mean now? . which superseded and sanctified everything. was this great happiness. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. laughter. Then Lindy would go to work. maybe a little smug…Well. calm.Are you feeling any of these fears? . and the green green eyes of Lindy that were watching over me in the blue light of dawn over the roofs of the Rue de Nevers… We made love one more time. we slowly got up. Except that I knew that when the evening came.
Yet. out of place. or a Goddess.was the essence of generosity. Lindy was standing on the doorstep looking quite regal wearing a fluffy terrycloth bathrobe from a famous hotel on Cap d’Antibes that I had once visited long time ago. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. out on the street. “Hi. I had been so lucky! . I backed it up to the Quai. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel.Are you going on vacation? Hassan the taxi driver was trying to break my daydream so I could join him and bring some friendly company to his day. Someone had to make a decision. There was a God. and sped toward the darker western skies. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. I had to go. The car was still there. She had to go to work. pick up bars and gay bars. call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. Bravely. I was out in the light. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. back to the café after jumping out of the train at Sevres-Babylone… Chapter Nine The taxi was getting stuck in traffic by the Porte Clignancourt on its way to Roissy Airport. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps. with me. at the door. the magic was lingering. someone watching over me. I felt elated and shaky. 89 . and had given me the nerve to come back to her. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless. and then collected on your various calls and time online. It was light out. you are faceless. They gave you the terminal for free. It was time for me to go. of intelligence. who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. illegal. I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. singles groups.
It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs. and called a cab to leave on Sunday.No. Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. with him. while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. I was in my home 90 . Without any prompting on my part. no…thank you. . But Lindy and I had made other plans. I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. On a clear summer day. Then we closed the door on the stairs.No. I entered the code. Climbing into the taxi. Once more. Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. I usually always took the Sunday flight. I had said goodbye to everyone. and we were mellow. It was hot and sultry. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. and we were going to get our 48 hours together. There I was. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi. not really either…I guess I’m just going away..No. The bag was not too heavy. Lindy had taken Monday off. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies. Rue de Nevers. I had jumped off the train of time. She did not want to cancel. Lindy came down to help me. I had packed.Are you going back home then? . She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. I’m not. His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. on Tuesday. who lived on a barge on the river. born in Argentina. It was as if we were on a beach. I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality. the temptation…I smiled back. on my way back to California. slow and gentle. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. the streets and the city. So this time. .
seafaring lore and framed photographs. but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. to friendship and love. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall. Dinner was delicious. and the world loved us back. His paintings were abstract. The door was open on an interior full of paintings. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. happy.city. according to him. but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. Diego was a great cook. and he said he had prepared food especially for us. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. Every item had its place. we were in love with the world. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. he said. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. It was small. . Good for sex. By the window on the river side. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. yet exuded calm. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop. We agreed that while it would be great to be able to make out in the open like these people. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. We climbed aboard and right away. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever. It had a bedroom. . we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. We walked along the still crowded square.Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. We toasted to all of us. a table was set for three. He took us on a tour of the barge. with an exuberance of color. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart. young. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Antonia. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual.As long as it is temporary! Lindy said it as she leaned her head on my shoulder and stole a kiss on the base of my neck. The deck was decorated with flowers. from his mother’s ancient recipes. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. We were in love with each other. with candles and a bottle of wine. and up to the bridge. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen. lounge chairs. I laughed with him. 91 .
It was only the beauty of the full moon over the river and the bridges that held us back from running full speed ahead to the moonlit garret awaiting us on top of the Rue de Nevers. We were stunned that everything was going so well. so I did care. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. to always treasure as a souvenir. We had some coffee and some fruit. Lindy was laughing a lot.Always be good to each other. we managed to fall asleep in each other’s arms before the skylights had a chance to turn purple with the first signs of dawn. we had dulce de leche. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. we said goodnight to our host. For dessert. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”. At first we thought of going to a movie. we woke up giddy with renewed energy. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. he said. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him. and walked off into the night holding hands. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. one of the most erotic tangos ever written. but could not stay apart for too long. but it swiftly passed as our conversation continued by candlelight interrupted by the soft rocking of the barge whenever the tour boats glided by in an explosion of flood lights. Maybe that first day at the Babylone. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. Unfortunately. my friend Diego. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. exhausted and overwhelmed. So. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds. as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. The next morning. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. Finally. I had escaped with a lie. our friend and protector. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together. 92 . We finished the evening with yerba mate.. and gave us each one. That night.
and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure. I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. and now. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. the hunchback who lived in the tower. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. -You know that I love you. Going down was even harder than going up. We were pointing landmarks to each other. We entered from the side. flatly. but it was a different story to say it like that. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. sitting out on the stone steps. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side. and we needed a rest. There was nobody there. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel. 93 . She admitted hers were too. It was not very crowded up there. Neither of us had ever been up there. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her. and sat down below the stairs. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. As we were talking. and started up the stairs. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. unbelievably. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. The men had danced until dawn. and the view was sweeping and breathtaking. She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. she was in love with me. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. so we would always remember it as ours. In between the rumble of tour boats. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon.
But I was also surprised at the relief I felt. slender and graceful. 94 . hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge. and as always trying to control her hair. I was shocked. under the protection of the trees. I took a deep breath. Let's go home… We went back up the steps. Wow. Lindy was running ahead. I smiled back.Come on. -Nah.She replied softly.Now I know why you wear running shoes.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever. We stayed silent for a while. -How about…I stopped mid-sentence. we did not waste any time. I guess we had found our legs again. . and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other. I did not know what to say. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you. past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai. Once Rue de Nevers.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank. then walked briskly across the bridge. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. I could not stay in Paris. she said. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. I caught up with her. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank. but then dared to ask the hovering question. Then finally. It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. . We kissed in the shadow of the stairs. I said. We were so well tuned by then. -Yes. . you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed. .
and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. but that was just fine. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. no obligation. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand. we stayed as long as we could. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis. just live in the present and make the best of it all. I will always love you. and the ease with which we had solved our future. it will always be there. At some point. I repacked my suitcase. Even if I can't do anything about it. not eating very much. elated by the memories of our day together. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. I called a cab for the next morning. and dreamy. shooter of arrows. and we sat down to dinner. and lover of Psyche. daring and lighthearted. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. I folded the letter. All we had was champagne. and toasting to everything. It was long. -Will you always desire me? -Yes. She smiled in the candlelight. It was simple: no upheaval. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner. I said. Lindy returned. son of Aphrodite. I started with the obvious. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. We were feeling euphoric. I always will. Once done. it was also my own. She had put on a jazz CD. Then she took her turn. It was slow.Once there. -Will you always love me? -Yes. 95 .
and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. the time came. We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up. we eventually did fall asleep. I will be. A man and a 96 . I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch. the loving ahead of us. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. it was harder to let go than we expected. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. and made love for what we felt could be the last time. -Next time you come to Paris. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. The entrance to the Rue de Nevers is marked by an arch made of a more recent building that had been constructed over the narrow passage. and finished packing. I said I would do the same. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go. There was promise and regret in her tone. I think she meant the apartment. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. and soon we had to forget about dinner and proceed with all the living to be done. I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. I did not know which one to go with. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. As it turned out. One last kiss. before the next morning. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. but she could have meant Paris. Finally. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. We sealed the vows with a kiss. A lifetime had gone by. Not surprisingly. but we woke up in time without the alarm. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due.
And then. her eyes were down. She waved back. I lit a cigarette. I finished the cigarette. I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. and effortlessly walked me through it. I might come back soon. Had we missed the chance of a lifetime? But I knew that my life had completely changed already…I was a different person than I was three weeks ago…My body. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. I suddenly was exhausted. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. and had to sit down on my suitcase. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. When we pulled apart. I began… The van started honking. with such intensity. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. Lindy had taken me by the hand. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. hopping into the van and waving. I waved back. 97 . the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. We had a new take on life. or I might not. my taxi had arrived. j'arrive! She yelled back. I had never known such freedom. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. and stereotype and there was no turning back. I had never lived like this. Hearing her voice on the recording again.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. conformity. She was gone. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". -J'arrive. let the chips fall where they may. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. -Lindy. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. I had never loved like this. I realized how far we had come in those few days. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies.
They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. beautifully open. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart. After the phone call. As I entered the kitchen. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. feminine with the femininity of gentleness and intuition…Androgynous with a sense of freedom and adventure that is not tied to any of the world’s stale institutions and rules of conduct. they didn’t have it. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. but it would be a great comfort to know that Lindy and I were once again reading the Obscure One at the same time together. I went to the airport bookstore to see if by chance they had a copy of Marguerite Duras’ “the Lover”. Half way through dinner that night. and I never thought of it until I went into the kitchen to put some plates away and help my gracious hosts with some facsimile of cleanup.Lindy. of inner or past troubles. and off I went. There she was. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. There was also an aura of kinship. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. well maybe I could be more like her. drinking a little too much. No surprise there. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. Of course. If I did not end up being with her. Pure with the knowledge that she takes pleasure in the giving as well as the taking…She had enfolded me with love that was benevolent and generous. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. so we can solve all of their problems. Part 3: VON ASCHENBACH Like a gift from the heavens it was easy to tell It was love from above that could save me from hell Carlos Santana. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. 98 .
a sophisticated. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. and Minna. enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes. while he is himself about to die. Venice. I had been doing this for the last year or so. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. Gustav Von Aschenbach. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. and hoped that I would stay in touch. intelligent. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. I remembered Minna’s offer. but thought that I never would. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. California. So. I was appalled to think that at my age. I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. I thanked her. They were unconventional. This was a time in my life. in which the aging hero. So there I was…I felt good. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. It was just for a couple of days. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. I still was not worried 99 . where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. and Bethany was not a kid anymore. I liked both of them a lot. The similarity in names. active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. and well travelled. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. I was lighthearted. I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. struck me as most ominous. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. Minna had very kindly said to me that I was welcome to stay with them in Venice if I ever had to go to LA. Coming back to the dining room.
and then out on a date with her boyfriend Vijay or “VJ” as they called him. she would have to give a speech and there was no way of course that she could miss this event. and not too smoggy. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious. a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. elegant. Much to my chagrin however. Minna was very matter of fact about the award. In fact. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. and know that it was just a gift. and being one of the recipients. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. It was a beautiful day. So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. It was almost a relief to leave the house and drive on the freeway on my way to Hollywood. rich. “Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. That morning. and in love. I was plotting to make sure that our moments together would be perfect…What did that mean? I didn’t really know. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. I said. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. He was slim. His smile was broad and confident. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple.about Aschenbach. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. and yet keep it light. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. beautiful. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling. as I 100 . We had talked at length about VJ the night before. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day.
revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma. and stared at the waves for quite a while. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. guardian of our dreams and our longings. I decided it was too early. but I did not feel the same. There. People were smiling at each other. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. Then went back North and through Hollywood. Everything looked good this morning. After all these years. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. saying hello. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. It was not too different from the times. and walked into the empty house. hurtful and out of line. just for fun. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. well named Tinsel Town. free and ageless. things might go better for me. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. and went right back outside. The water was quite chilly. and I was smiling back. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe! 101 . and walked in with a spring in my step. it felt like I had finally become myself. The mist was gone. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. feeling alive. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. The meeting went very well. We even discussed a particular night. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. I felt generous. I felt better. and so did the lunch afterwards.
I went back to my dinner. Ah. and as I always like to do.Finally. when it started looking a little more like dusk. maybe she forgot something. that would be nice. . and was getting ready to warm them up. Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah. I went back to the living room. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment. and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea. . . well so did I! She did seem upset. . Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm".Come here.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion. . finding a plate. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. I think she was very flattered and looking forward to it and would not miss it short of a catastrophe involving major National Security issues. Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. She smiled. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read. when I heard the front door open and close. in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs. three shelves below. "Anna Karenina". Well. I was examining the book collection as well. 102 .D. but I wanted to be comforting somehow. I said. I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little. Then some classics.Yes. by John Wyclife. I went back into the house.I thought you were going out tonight.Sure. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before. a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm". I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. I did not want to intrude. . you never know when it might be lost or stolen. M.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered. Interesting. cooling the glass with ice cubes. Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying.
what we thought. . She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went. where we had been. . on the road.Or at the emergency room. We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001. . . The wine was delicious and light. and she flirts with everyone including him. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask.She seemed to begin to relax a little. . there is this girl Olivia Ramos. or would you rather not? Talk about it.Ah. we talked about our travels. and I was determined to help in some way.So I called his cell phone.Oh. by chance. . We talked about movies we liked. but he was not there.Well. don’t hold it in. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. in the middle of the Outback.Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. of course. but it was on voice mail. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. She was talking easily of this and that. or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better. he was there. I could picture in my mind Bethany travelling through Australia by herself and how thrilling it must have been for those who met her just like that. she’s from Brazil. For all I know. what a fiasco! She explained that VJ had called her while she was still at school to cancel their date as he was feeling sick. eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you? 103 . He always says he thinks she’s really hot. Australia. I could guess. .He thinks she’s hot.Do you have any idea where he went? . please.So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it. . going down easy and was relaxing both of us. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers. I can talk about it. It was dark outside.
amazed at her beauty. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. . . and softly chuckled.Are you kidding? . However. I looked back at her. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. At least. since yesterday.. What do you want to know? 104 .Yes. And sex is good…at least it is for me… I could picture a 14 year old Bethany studying late at night trying to decipher Dr. he’s never said it in my presence.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . We have fun together.No. like a joke. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. Wyclife's arcane instructions.Well. she laughed.Yes. and did not seem embarrassed at all. it sounds like VJ might be more into himself than he is into you…and maybe this imbalance is what makes you hang on for dear life. I have. At least that's what I would have done… . And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. maybe. I said jokingly. I do. . She looked at me with a funny little smile.Ha. from what you told me. but if outwardly you are quite stunning. I have been around the block a few times.Oh. she asked. he pays me nice compliments every now and then. but that’s just me. this might not mean much to you. I mean it. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. . . I’m not.Well. do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… . I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. smiling.Well.What do you know about this. more than one. I said it lightly. She looked straight back at me. that is of course very important… But Bethany. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. have you ever been with a man? . She looked down briefly.
All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial. one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. I said.Was that your first time? . It was as if each moment was intensified. how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? .and in a relationship with a man. I reminisced on how any time we found ourselves alone on a beach or a secluded trail was an excuse to make love. quasi erotic friendships with men. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep. even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. oil pumping ones. San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. East Los Angeles. and I suddenly stopped talking. in Redondo Beach. with a woman I had met at a cafe. I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women. and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal. and women are not always very careful with that. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. illicit and were deeply hidden. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf. and of an overwhelming 105 . being with a woman is dangerous. . I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years.Quite different. had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility.And off we went. whether I was with her or away from her. On the other hand. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. Still.No. in San Francisco’s North Beach. Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . Actually. into territories where acquaintances seldom go. I became conscious of my breathing. I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely. . the ones with the little houses and the little lawns. my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves.
wiping counters. as I am entranced by her. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. and it is strange to say. asking how school was going for her so far. filling up the dishwasher. more intoxicating than the alcohol. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. Instead. So. so a shower will be a good substitute. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. of an elegant. Bethany got up as well. Wrapped in the towel. I got up from the table.desire to kiss her. and was shamelessly taunting me. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. My head is spinning a little from the wine. Minna’s guest bathroom has one of those clear glass and tile sparkling clean showers with a huge shower head that dispenses a waterfall of warmth…there are also about 15 different kinds of shower gels and whatever else. and started gathering the dishes. and she replied that it was going quite well. The salt in the air is exhilarating. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. to find Bethany in my room. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. we went up the stairs. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. Finally. this is not quite the Caribbean. and we cleared the table. I broke the spell by making small talk. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. Tonight has been so good. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. to our rooms. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. 106 . Dying is not an option. putting away unused silverware. I luxuriate. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. I can still hear the ocean out there. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However.
and feel all. she props her head up on her elbow.Of course not… -That book you mentioned. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. where the travelers know all. . I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. enough suffering. Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey.Oh Bethany. I guess it went quite well after all. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. I’d like to get it. she kisses softly. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging. if only what’s his name could see you right now. naturally. What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience. oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder. And then. and I find it. The return is made of gentleness. to my utter surprise. She laughs. But then. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me. .a little too big for her.You know…I need to say this. a man’s robe. hours ago.Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. all the way to some strange ease. looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home. as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. where all shame and self consciousness disappear. I want to give Bethany what she wants. forgotten . . we end up kissing instead. we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation. where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. tonight…”. tenderness. 107 . I say. I don’t really care. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane. She looks flushed and smiling. I turn around. I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. along with an old business card from something somewhere. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. OK. but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not…. All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. sent back to their dark alleys.Mind if I come in? She says… . She lowers her eyes and starts .
Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. I got up. “…angel…” I say. I am in a way teaching. Bethany…I am not free anyway. But in reality. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about. I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I follow her. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. I hear the front door open.Here comes your mom. I grant you that. How easy it is to lose track of time. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. I tried to absorb myself in mundane thoughts and finally walked down the stairs in the state of mind of an astronaut on her first flight beyond the orbit of the Earth. you better get out of here. She is looking at me.. how did you sleep? 108 . My last glimpse of her as my lover is of the hummingbird tattoo on the small of her back as she throws on the robe and shuts the door behind her. Just consider this my legacy. I must have. don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible.Good morning! Said Minna. We talk softly.Don’t worry. and by now. I am not expecting anything from you. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off. As I turn off the light. . I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night. I guide her. She kisses me again lightly. and I know that the lesson only works if the teacher is prepared to trade places at some point and open up to all there is to learn. I’m not sure she would appreciate. . I am in awe of my student. though. Now dear reader. and I snap back to the world. Her beauty is overwhelming me. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions. and things don’t always have to work out that way. and tiptoes toward the door. She smiles back. . We jump off in tandem. I smile. as I realize Minna is coming home.
“Good morning!” She was smiling. looking at her. . and the conversation stayed away from my evening and how it went. dressed. By the time I was packing up to go. I was feeling quite happy with myself. -Oh. I slept very well. and I was feeling strong and gliding though life on a path of lightness and freedom. but on the other hand. chasing young things around Venice. I saw Minna wave from the terrace. I answered that it went well. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode. . I realized I had feared for a few minutes that I was not going to see her again. feeling easy and detached. but honestly. and she was a perfect hostess. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality. I walked over to her. Bethany came back just to keep me company. we got absorbed in the anecdotes from the banquet. trying to make sure that I would remember everything. energetic. even when she was sad. up. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table. My inner Gustav was somewhere else. I came down and started loading the rental car. she was always radiant.Out of the corner of my eye. I said goodbye to Minna. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality. . As I turned toward the house.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing.What can I say…my pleasure! 109 . and it was well worth the trip. . She laughed quite easily. I waved back. I couldn’t. when after what seemed to be a very long time. not wanting to be distracted from the moment. radiant. I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux. I could see Bethany.Yep. for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. I finally started relaxing.Thank you Bethany. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully. mixing stuff in the blender. and it was about to be over. At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. I said.
no response ever came. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. I had said that I did not expect anything.We both started laughing. Somehow. Relieved. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. and then decides that they have too many friends already. we had crossed a threshold beyond which there might not be room for our former relationship as the older friend who knows how to understand young people. and I felt that for her. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality. Maybe she was upset because I teased her when she said that material possessions did not matter to her happiness. to enjoying a link which would not be broken. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. For some reason. Still somewhere. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. back home near San Francisco. I wondered why Minna was not responding. hoping that she would catch up with her email. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. and finally answer me. I am not very good at blowing kisses. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. So there was a certain amount of longing. To my surprise. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. She had always been so pleasant with me. my mind was still with Bethany. 110 . in my dark little heart. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. However. and was fully expecting a response. For about a week after I returned home. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. I was looking forward to hearing from her. I walked back to the car. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. Bethany was gone. From the shadow of the house. But I didn’t really know. so far. but no pain. and to whom one can talk about just anything. Minna and I were not old friends. I think she would have been more the confronting type. It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. to knowing how Bethany was doing. this cut to the quick. so I got in the car and drove away.
I felt like I was Bethany myself. I would also have moments where I realized how silly this whole thing was. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. and maybe also shame. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. and imagined what it would be like to be her. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. and plunged me into a dark vat of infatuation and yearning. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. Some other times. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. nor really a desire. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. And it was true in a way. Now. Bethany was the angel of Death. as I was distracted most of the time. but everyone around me. This. thinking about Bethany. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. Sometimes. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. if I was alone somewhere. the local newspaper in Venice California. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. radiant of course. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. 111 . at her most…well. About two months later. and became angry at myself. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. I felt like I was really cheating. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. He was not as striking as VJ.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. regret. Often. smooching at this year’s Gala”. I had been so cool. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. Not only my partner.
to horseback rides in the hills. too unnerving. I had been aware. and that memory was with me a lot of the time. It was not dark yet. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. but the streetlights had come on. except for Bethany. They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. to sleep. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. I loved the song. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. and uninteresting. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. California. going for a sexy look. to this gorgeous world. had somehow caused an unconscious regression. and chasing after some unknown idea of success. without defenses and with a real purity of intent. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all 112 . accompanying me to work. My memory of the event however. they all looked alike. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. and could not help but start singing along full blast. But these were not tears of sadness…my throat constricted and my heart started beating a little faster…it was the joy of belonging…belonging to this music. One day. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike.was too distracting. and I had to exorcise it somehow. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. ostracized and unloved. had given of herself without fear. listening to the radio in my car. that last bastion of privacy. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice. a feeling of being vulnerable. I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. ever since I had seen Alfred Hitchcock’s eerie and suspense less “Vertigo” as an adult that it is not the mere human being that we obsess on. In the end. But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. but more the idealized image that we have of them. As I was singing and driving.
still with delight. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. When I look back at our brief moments together. and I found it deep within myself. it was our own. almost spiritual way. Maybe it was the circumstances.that was there for me. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. She found it again where she wanted to find it. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. it was like that for me. who was beautiful and brave. and we had opened that door for each other. At least. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. albeit in a more restrained. To be honest. and reminisce on occasion. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. I do owe her respect and love for who she is and not who I sometimes imagine her to be. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. As it turned out. To keep… The most important. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . The feeling was familiar. It would last. I see nothing but love. because it lived in each of us. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. but I could see clearly at that moment. and maybe it is better this way. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. was not about despair or death. I do relish the memories of that night.
www.com Food for the mind 114 .feedbooks.