Travels Through Love and Time

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?!


but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career. I had never met her.You mother said she had business in France. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion. and always found them to be extremely boring in person. I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years.I was crestfallen. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . I still could not believe it! One whole week! . She was married to Marco d’Alessi. Since my father was working in the film business. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. . very blue eyes. and ran away to my room. I thought she was beautiful. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. Right now.Today. however. I hated her. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave. were I have to admit. and she wants be incognito. as Simone frowned at the word. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. a producer who was much older than her. that she needed the rest. Some of the films. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. She had dark skin. 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. .Why. She looked good in black and white though.Oh right. Mr. slightly above my head.Shit! Whatever…I said. especially from the point of view of a kid. but I had seen some of her movies. I regularly gave them looks that could kill.When is she coming? . I decided that I would not have 4 . Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. This was a double whammy! . like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca. and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s.

did not return my feelings. whose nickname was of all things. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys. making shopping lists. and off we went. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. He had blond hair that was curly in places. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. We played a game where we would pull out the old canoe that we had hidden at the Plage d’Argent. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. Then. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. and that always fell in front of his eyes. I liked them all. Once they are all dead. who were brothers. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. I hopped on the bike. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. After all our exertions. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer. and did not join us very often. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. and the manners of a bad boy. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. So there. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. I had a crush on Bambi. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. we will know for sure who done it. It was me and “the girls”. He had the looks of an angel.anything to do with her. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. I was furious at my mother. and I loved to watch him. So it was really Ondine and me and the boys. I made my escape. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. to the latest news. The canoe leaked. At 2:30. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica. This was probably what attracted me. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. He was skinny. Let him or her go free. I ate my lunch distractedly. as he always yelled at me. and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. working hard. as possible. Ondine and Veronica. Bambi. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. We made 5 . turn it over to empty it and start all over again.

and told her I would not be home for dinner. . Today was a good day.Is she going to have dinner at home? . I will! I was relieved not to have to face the awkward situation of whether I was welcome to eat with Mrs. Francesca d’Alessi was there. and biked home as slowly as I could.Is she here? . but you are welcome! . I shook her hand. we did not stay in hotels. I woke up late. Francesca wanted to be incognito. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter. as usual. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. those who lived on the island all year round.Yes. I was struck by the color of her eyes. . and sat down at the table. d’Alessi or not. We had houses. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. buttering a slice of toasted bread. as I usually did on cloudy days.Indeed. I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest. I took a shower. and went out into the patio for some breakfast. grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on. see you tomorrow morning! Good of the people we called tourists. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies. She extended her hand to me. good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents. we were locals. Day Two The next day was a little cloudy. . like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin. As she looked up. but there was something about her demeanor. Obviously.OK.Thanks. as close to midnight as I could. luminous. I’m Francesca. that somehow pulled you in.You must be Christina…happy to meet you. so I felt I had to respect that. ignored the Italianization of my name. They were blue. other than mocking or yelling. . . I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some 6 . A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me. but I did not say who it was. yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. Simone was not free to talk.

and her English was definitely superior to my Italian. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. 7 . and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. I replied yes. and then she changed the subject. but sweated a little more for the math. .Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. even less obtained as a result. but Francesca started in. she was doing summer homework with her tutor.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . When I arrived at Ondine’s.Not far.Mrs. she said.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . He will be here for two nights. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? . actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . and they let me join in. .Yes I do. and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion. She spoke to me in English. . and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. It’s too small. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help.No. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question). I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone.I am meeting a friend at . . I aced the spelling dictation as usual. but had recently become mine.Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. . and besides you cannot get lost on the island. to get to the harbor.So.

. Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom. we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. I know. Do you want to come? . I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back. . . .Sure… And off we went. Besides. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . and snorkel gear. I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing.Nothing…what are you doing today? . Sometimes. Bambi had brought a fishing gun. Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite.Her boyfriend? Said Bambi.She is supposed to be incognito.And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine. I had borrowed mine from Veronica. and sat on the beach. 8 . . but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident. She is actually staying at our house. Bambi started the conversation.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame. Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day.Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning. as I did not remember where mine was. and did not want to go back to the house and look for it.Oh. and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents.Hey you guys! What are you up to? . Fishing meant hunting down the fish. and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues. 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. on our bikes.We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch. I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned. I said sighing.

with long necks. It was a soft. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed. I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together. and the 9 . At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden. happy and comfortable. Suddenly. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. and picked up my mystery book. Things were quite messy in there. I was hanging on to one of them. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. feeling lighter than a feather. Selena Hirschberg was the dark. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins.Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure. know that?! . Argentinian star who had created a sensation at the last Cannes Festival after her film won the Palme d’Or. like blue herons. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. intense. repeated moaning. and I started falling. I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds.You better beware. . said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… . I could still hear the bird sound. that broke into a long. intense with sweetness. like seagulls. little old you. The move broke my balance.. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. men sized sneakers there. Her boyfriend came today. the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip.What? Come on! How could you. When I arrived back at the house. finally interested in the next clue.I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. prolonged moan.She’s not a dyke. his name is Tomaso. infinite ocean. cuff links here. I woke up suddenly from my dream. . but I was already dozing off. by refusing all the interviews. This was no bird. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. We were all soaring above white clouds. of all people. mysterious. it was still early. so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. No one was there. I went back to my room. and below us was the blue. This had driven the paparazzi crazy.

I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. The loneliness was palpable. Without warning. His smile was disarming and contagious. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. I crossed the patio and went back to my room. with that racket going on. He left the room. Outside. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast.Christina.What? I was wide awake by now. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. and Tomaso introduced himself. Shivering. Francesca greeted me. come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night. more voices.Come on. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing. the sound of laughter. listening. No way could I sleep. and I got up and joined them in the patio. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided. When I did not respond. Someone got up. . Then. There was silence for a while. Safe in the warmth of my bed. They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me. I heard water running. The light was turned off. realizing they had left the door open. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. . Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. I got up. the door opened slightly. an immense sadness came over me. It took a while. wearing nothing but shorts.wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall. and the moaning started again. 10 . punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. where I could not hear anything. feigning sleepiness. I started sniffling. I could see stars and some clouds. and went outside. to the point where tears came to my eyes. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it. and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. and realized it was going to get cold. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. wake up! . I stayed awake for a while. whispering in Italian. following their movements.

He was so energetic. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults. I declined the drink until later. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. bobbing by the wharf. being part of them. and there I was walking with them. so engaging. We had wine. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome. the wake. I will remember this always. The captain Mr. he said. I said to myself. Tomaso looked like a Greek God. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. There I was. We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. Not a cloud in the sky. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. After I climbed back on the boat. This is how real people live. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back. or even with anyone. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. said Tomaso. the sky. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. Francesca’s smiling face. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. on a large circle off the coast. Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue. finally sipping that Pastis. After I had spent some time enlightening 11 . the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. a Riva speedboat. We had melon. The day was gorgeous. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing. I thought. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. dark green towel. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. on my way to spending the day with them. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. the misty coast beyond. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. This is how people eat it in Rome. At night. and I managed to get up on the skis. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. ready to take his turn with the mono ski.

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. “Buona Notte. We had to jump off the boat into the water. We waved goodbye. I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. and Mr. I was laughing so hard. I listened. heard some cats meowing. .them on his name and nickname. and splashed around as we ran toward the house. as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further.Wrap yourself up with cellophane. I knew the facts of life of course. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. said Francesca. said Tomaso. I fell sound asleep. he doesn’t know what he’s missing.Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. lifting her glass. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. everyone!”. After dinner. they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi. . Eventually. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks. I listened into the night. Day Four As I woke up. I had tears in my eyes. night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. and listened over the crickets. Once in my bed. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom.Well. and their conscious beings. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor. we got back into the boat. After we were done drying the floor. and joined her. exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. said Francesca. and wait for him in his room. Running across the living room. . 12 . Now that they were my friends.

don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. because you do. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. .I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. I would suddenly be tall. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys. Today was the 14th of July. a celebration in all of France. as his wisecracks about Francesca were beginning to get on my nerves. it was as if the world was coming together. it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. I would rather have died on the spot than shared anything I knew from the time I had spent with Francesca. tan and fearless.You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. I waved back and grabbed my bike. Bastille Day. thinking about the cellophane. Even Bambi.Oh. and I actually did better in math this time. but I was also chuckling to myself. I am the one who felt irritation. we had sandwiches for lunch. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer. . This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me. I just know she’s not a dyke. My confidence had also increased. “the little deer”. We worked for a while. I was less in awe of the new chrome zippo. that’s all! 13 . As a matter of fact. . the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils. After all. had changed. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. I threw some sand at him.Nothing. I still enjoyed looking at him. She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand. looking at his back and the blond curls in the back of his head. I used to be visiting that beach. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. We usually did not have fireworks on or near the island but some people took the boat to Hyeres to watch them. I noticed that everything around me had changed. Afterwards. now I secretly owned the beach. When she looked at me. She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in.

of course. on the village square. and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. and smiled. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake. We had a great time. Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort.My. We could already hear the music from the terrace. 14 . Francesca had a way of drawing people out. There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. Some local band.Lay off her. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti. was playing “Johnny B. that Francesca agreed to join them. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. . She took in the scene. Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. . . and took off his hat. said Bambi.And on we went… That night. Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us. and younger than her thirty something years. will ya? .You know me? And do I know you? . She looked tan. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. Her presence was hard to ignore. Simone’s favorite and mine as well. rum “baba”.Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. as I went over to join Ondine. d’Alessi. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. He came over. Good” and singing it in French. and no makeup whatsoever. obviously obsessed by Francesca. I know you… .Mrs. to thank her for taking such good care of us. over in the far corner. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry. and one of the sailors spotted her. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags.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. Couples and kids were dancing. Veronica. with electric guitars and accordions. aren’t we protective….

But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. I got up to greet her. and soon he and I. Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. . and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling. Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. . if a little subdued and controlled. sometimes. So he finally stopped. and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off. pick me up in his arms. until he finally had to laugh. and some tourist amateur photographers.Yes I am. The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. and twirl me around. and some of the sailors joined us as well. I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. 15 . I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography. Francesca was a good dancer. I looked around for Francesca. After a while. She walked over to our table. you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me. and Francesca said “Oh. and she was supposed to be incognito.Is everything OK? I asked. That’ll make a nice front page. but I had not been paying attention. and it made me extremely proud and happy.Christine! You’re almost cool. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy. She nodded yes without answering. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. executed in zombie like jerks. . I don’t think Francesca was counting on this. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends. I should have spotted the photographer and warned her. and seemed to be having a great time. and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s.Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors. so we danced like zombies together.. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration.I guess it’s OK with her. We all got up to dance with her.What’s going on over there? . I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. . and we all started dancing in a circle. I said…still a little worried.

and twirled away back to her room. sweetie… . and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango. It was very dark and still warm. . Myriads of stars were out. la media luz de amor…la la la”. We got back to the house safe and sound.I need to go home.I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. You just wait and see… She looked excited. as if at some grand event. . I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. As we said goodnight. . and then was quiet all the way back.But Mrs. carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes. Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water! 16 . I did not want to leave Francesca alone. and we could hardly see. so I could guide her on the trail. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. We could still hear the music coming from the square. so I waved at my friends from afar. She kissed me on my right cheek. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight. At some point. . 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.Buona notte. no moon yet. “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.Christina. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. she took my hand. and we started walking home.At some point.

and a striped sailor shirt. blankets. is this true? . it would be fine with her to take the Nostromo out. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities. She was smiling and joking. and we were packing essentials for overnight. less than 30 feet long. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. for the boat? I did indeed.Do you know where the “big bag” is. wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. says Francesca. “Felipe. It lived in the harbor. sheets. Felipe says you can handle working the jib.Yes. my mother decided she hated the sea. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. After my parents separated. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then. Felipe agreed. sure. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women. I had a few occasions to go out on the boat. The Nostromo was small. seaworthy. . Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement.As I walked out. but it was a beautiful. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. some pots and pans.She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. including my mystery book of course. it looked like it was all set. She turned to me. . Francesca looked ready. un minuto per favore…”she said. and she instructed me to go and get it. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. pillows. and taking me with her. I’ve done it before…I had done 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. with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. The big duffel bag is where we kept all that was needed for an overnight on board Nostromo. . I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. As I was finishing breakfast. but she added that if Mr. Then.Christina. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me 17 . my parents’ sailboat. She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe. My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel.

everything step by step. Once we passed the jetty. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. and swam around with Francesca. On the boat. she was all fluidity and elegance. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. I was nervous. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. I felt privileged. Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. I tried not to stare at her. I poked around in the cabin for a while. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. and then I jumped from the bow. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. Finally. When she came up from diving. We did one clumsy port tack. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. She was slender and strong. but also intimidated to be out there. There were very few other boats around. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. Then he helped us open the duffel. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. Francesca started the engine. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. and nothing seemed to come easily. almost alone with her. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. as I had not been sailing for a long time. with calm seas and a soft breeze. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. easy swimmer. and we were off. waved at him. in a tribute to her natural beauty. and she 18 . down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. The shackles were rusty with salt. She was a smooth. he pulled out the plank. It looked like a perfect day though. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. it was time to sail. Fortunately. with skin the color of light rosewood. This put the breeze at our back. We dropped anchor. In the water. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. drinks in hand. ideal for apprentice sailors.

that they miss the ray altogether. But I always think my job is to act. Too many people… . The sun was half way gone. But it’s all right… 19 . though. with all kinds of hand gestures. and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds.No.made Pastis for both of us.I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands. they are not foreign to me. When she explained something. and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream. She handed me my drink. . she truly talked like an Italian. I’ve had them all at one point or another. And all they see is love…the light of love.Well. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting. the scenery was breathtaking. I’ve known them all. they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings. watching the sun go down.And do they get to see it? I looked at her. it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly. In it. the icky ones. the desperate ones. because you can be many different people. the good ones. .But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play. . have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? . to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray.Christina. but I have read the novel by Jules Verne.What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. . Not to be on public display like that… . other than yourself. Does it bother you when people recognize you? .You seemed to be OK last night. It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time.No. And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes. They are so into each other. and we sat on the deck side by side. Francesca was asking: . . Coming back up.The common wisdom is that acting is great. The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood.

but no green ray was showing up. but most of the time we live in Malibu.Well. Just like in the story. .What is it that makes someone a great lover? . but he is not the marrying kind. I was sailing alone when I was about your age… .Does your husband know about Tomaso? . and it opened the door to more important questions. . I love Tomaso. people like me and my husband love each other. and I had a little bit of rose wine. Then. My father and I would go sailing all the time. She had made another batch of Italian pasta. .No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then. I love him very much. I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . I was determined to direct the conversation.Yes. She got up and decided to make dinner.. . I was the one who looked away first.How come you know how to sail like that? . but we are not really physically in love with each other anymore. So.Do you still live in Naples? . I do. . to find that the sun was at the green ray point. He is a good friend and a great lover. California. She had mentioned her husband.Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? .Do you…huh…do you love your husband? . while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove.Che bello…what a beautiful story… We were quiet and looking into each other’s eyes all of a sudden. I wanted to know everything about Francesca. but it was only something from a book. let me see… 20 . Francesca looked genuinely moved.Hmm…sometimes.My family lives near Naples.And he doesn’t mind? .I don’t know for sure.Yes he does. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind. I have Tomaso.

. You would love her too… . but I think he read it somewhere.She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! . I am.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it.I don’t know. That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her. so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with.Yes.Well. .Yes. I was remaining silent.Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive.Yes.You love a lot of people. I do. and Indian. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you. it feels very good…but I think in the long run. You are not left alone out there.Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . I was still on the attack. it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew. .Bambi says you sleep with her. I’m in love with Selena. trying to wrap my mind around all of this.You’re in love with Selena? . She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me. I said. if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are. make love with Selena and all that stuff? .Do you. but I appreciated her effort. like. you know. . . don’t you think? . however. . Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. believe me.What about Selena Hirschberg? . she is…too good maybe. 21 .What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question. fiery. Anytime I can. . .Well. And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! . She is beautiful.Is that good or bad? .

and to dive head first from the boat into the night. I took off all my clothes as well. I was saying the names in French.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting. the Medium Bear. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves. She laughed. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. and floated on our backs looking at the stars. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters. There were so many stars. but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. I was floating too. It all seemed like a dream.Let’s go for a swim! . Orion. all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. . I could see Francesca floating on her back. Betelgeuse. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me. she suddenly got up. I could not see her very well. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium. .Yes. We swam a little far from the boat. the Big Bear. and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual. So. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid. Goldilocks… I was making them up. at least some of them… I started naming them. . Vega de la Lyre. Francesca was listening intensely.Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . and the stars began to fade. I could hear night birds flapping their wings. hardly making a splash. The water felt incredibly warm. Out from behind the cove. I thought…I’ve got to do it. There I was. the Little Bear. .. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this. I do.Tell me more… Sirius. Arcturus.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell. Cappella.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm.Yes now! Come on. this was the life…indeed… 22 . you know. Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me. Oh. On saying this. . Rigel. looking at the sky. she proceeded to take off all her clothes.Yes sweetheart. . my heart is full…but there is always room for more.

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.


I loved the look of her skin. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor. the Greek billionaire. and maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat. and almost made it to my favorite spot. . he is on the list to finance my next film. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion. He came to the island on the Orion every now and then. I was pedaling with a vengeance. There we had been. without having to walk the bike.You know Christina. I was distressed. her hair. I lay down for a long time. that was Stavros Spanodakis. Ah. I was not a lesbian. 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.. and how I had hoped she would never pull away.Ah. and I could still feel her lips on mine. I slept for a while. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked. as Bambi would say. and walked over to where I could look at the little coves on the South side of the island. I loved Francesca. I brushed off the pine needles. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. She would have taken my hand. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper. . and I was not even truly an adult. but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. There we had 26 . a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. The production company would love for me to give him a little push. good…should be fun. This was my last evening with Francesca. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys.Sweetie. a dyke. mainly about love. We would have talked about all kinds of adult things. her eyes. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. I would much rather stay with you.

in a white evening gown that brought out her tan. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca. possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it. and gold sandals. Instead. 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. on foot.Oh. and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. as I got off the bike and we started toward home.Allo? This is Demosthenes. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor. with me walking 27 . a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying. the phone rang.Yes? . It could be my mother.La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. I said yes. But I could see there was light on the yacht. I could not help but smile… . No one can take this back. . When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. . The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near. At around eleven. She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo.spent the night together. After dinner. and turned and waved at Demosthenes. Next to her was Demosthenes. I saw Francesca. Simone went to her little bungalow. At the gate to the pier. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner. She was breathtakingly beautiful. standing by the golf cart. She was wearing turquoise earrings. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. I could not really see anything and I went back home. all right. I was sure of it. I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. She walked toward me. There we had truly loved each other. I will let her know. Spanodakis. I am purser for Mr. Simone and I had dinner together. 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. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle.

Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. I reached for her hand across the table. I wanted to take care of her. in mock annoyance. back to the house. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide. then follow it.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. She held mine in return. Follow it all the way and don’t look back.No. a red crystal one with cut designs. . .How do I know when something is really good? 28 . of course not.Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. not really wanting to know… . I got some ice water from the refrigerator.Christina! No. how was it? I asked. This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school. The first thing she did was take off her shoes.the bike. what do you think!? . please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked. . . But you see. I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie. So we sat in the kitchen. as a matter of fact he did. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness. My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone. I can say no. You can’t go wrong. . do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? .Christina. and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more. .Yes. Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier. But she was still in charge.It was good. . It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… . She was giving me no details. I chose the best glass for Francesca. and I was feeling possessive. and poured her a nice tall glass.So. .Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time. If it does.Sweetheart. I am very thirsty.

that I had to breathe in and out. just below the ear. I wanted this being that I had become today. come on sweetie. and it will keep. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark. . because it stays with you. though you don’t always know it at first. it feels good. I was holding her very tight. but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good.I will miss you too. . I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. It never goes away. trying to understand what she was saying. I did too.OK. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air. I was looking at her. Tesoro. I went out into the patio. You do something really good. . I could hear the night crickets. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep.I will miss you. When I joined them. But what 29 . and every sensation seemed amplified. She kissed my neck. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace. and I could imagine her. too fast. the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. OK? She waited for my answer. I said. As we were walking toward our rooms. The sensation was so strange and so powerful. I was not sad anymore. almost in a gasp. a strange energy was running through me. My heart was light. it sticks to you. you can take it with you anywhere. to remain within me forever.. .Oh my…said Francesca. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. my angel. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me.You know it. Sleep was entirely out of the question. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. She finished her glass and got up. You drink too much. She went into her room and closed the door. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room. as she gently released me. trying to never forget. it was time to go to bed. but I knew she was there.

Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva. Veronica and their parents. I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. and off they went. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap. when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. Next to them.Well. I looked at the speedboat. it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. the one policeman of the island. disappearing behind its own wake.Oh. the varnished wood. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago. and kissed them all on both cheeks. Mr. 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. At 10:30. and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. then Paris. but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . to Toulon. When they passed the jetty. the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. . I was the last one. and then I will fly to Los Angeles. She gave me a hug.Where are you going now? . and whispered in my ear. The reporter from Nice-Matin was there.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile. the chrome step. With Bambi. while she sat next to the driver in front. I saw Bambi. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat. warmer to my heart than a thousand suns. and I could swear I saw him blushing. but I knew that it had turned me upside down. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. She went to my friends. so were Ondine. she waved at the crowd. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. the postman. cameras in hand. after she kissed him. I helped load her bags in the back. When we parked by the wharf. Francesca was very gracious as usual. Jean-Remy and their parents. and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town. I did not quite know what the adventure was. 30 . . it rose up like a rearing horse. closest to the speedboat. Then she came to me.

I had a big lump in my throat. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed. I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. gossiped and drove around with the older kids. When my mother called. favoring swimming and walking alone. I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed.It means “I love you”. I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . and my eyes were stinging. How good was she. but was happy to be able to close the house. I could swim with her. go home and join her son in Vendee. talk to her. to being with my friends.Felipe. I asked him. I read it somewhere. Selena was indeed very beautiful. we sat on the crowded beaches. I kept imagining Francesca instead of 31 . When no one was around to distract me. walk with her. and we all went to see it. I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia. and decided that I needed a change of pace. Simone was sad to see me go. When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. and shook his finger at me. . Tropez. I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. One night. . I just want to know what it means… . In St. Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. We went dancing until dawn. with long black hair and very intense black eyes.No one…no one told me. She agreed. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. really? The love scenes were light and tasteful. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg. I was in a trance. Tropez. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. But I was determined not to cry. That’s what it means. in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre.

Many times. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband. though I very seldom spoke to him. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. or a saint. I don’t really remember… Finally. and often saw her on television. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. I thought of writing to Francesca. When you love someone who is in the public eye. I went to see all her movies. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. I grew shy about contacting her. and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. and we all returned to Paris. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. read about her. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. However. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. There. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. Tropez two years before. And so I did. I went back to school. or a famous cop.the male protagonist. 32 . and since I never heard from her. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. This part of my life was over. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. He himself also lived in Rome. Every once in a while. They were separated and they had no reason to keep them. just as I had escaped the island for St. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. the summer wound down. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. Yet. My mother was not very forthcoming. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. including my mother who finally came back. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer. Guillaume. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. 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. or maybe calling her.

I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. on the day of the screening. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. . She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. put on my dress. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. I took a quick shower. I did not have time to enjoy the room. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. After all these years. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris. and if so. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes.Sorry. I picked up my ticket at the will call. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. and to please thank Francesca for us. and checked in. except maybe books and films. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. to put it mildly. but I hate the Festival. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. I was surprised and excited. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. I went to the hotel. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother. 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 secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. I left early in the morning. I had friends. their conversations and their sexual games. the phone rang. all by myself. as it was already time to go to the screening. she said. and said that of course we would attend. and 33 . I wanted to look as good as possible. One morning in May. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. I had flirted. I picked it up. Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. I was eighteen years old. I could not believe it. I was flabbergasted. I enjoyed the drive. but the task had seemed daunting. I did not know what to expect or what to think.

She always drew people to her. but had never brought me with them. but none of them would ever recognize me. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. The film was harsh and violent. designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. and I kept bumping into people. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. She was surrounded with people and photographers.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd. and walking on the Croisette. everything. some woman came over to me. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty. I got to 34 . I was happy to be there. and how little I had given her in return. Suddenly. after the screening. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. and then I saw her. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. I had to cross to the beach side. She saw me. to have come all this way to honor her. some of them I had met before. There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. I was only interested in one of them. My parents had gone often. That was fine with me. the crowd roared and applauded. 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. The director came to take a bow. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. There were no love scenes. and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. She was very popular in France. especially since she had left Hollywood. only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. it was all worthwhile. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. the dress. and she gave me the suite number. Finally. I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. as she walked toward the stage. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. This was my first time at Cannes. back then… As the end credits rolled. The scene inside was exciting. Francesca was on screen most of the time. the drive. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. thinking of all she had given me. I had a brief moment of guilt. It was a great success. and she was good.

and a charming manner. He looked at me and we both laughed.Sorry. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. but he made me feel at ease and welcome. carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne. about California. and we had a few private minutes to talk. She asked me if I felt good about it. and we started talking about the film. and asked me if how I knew Francesca.the hotel. His name was Oliver Schneider. . look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. I knocked on the door. I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. He held out his hand. and our hands touched. They were going to distribute the film. . dressed in a tuxedo. He was extremely handsome. Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room. and then took my hand. Dio mio. I found him very attractive. and various appetizing canapes. She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her. surrounded by people holding champagne flutes. .Oliver. and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human. She gave me a hug. Oliver.You must be Christina! He said… I feel like I know you already! Come on in…I am Marco d’Alessi. At some point.Christina! Oh. and did not offer any more details. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older. and an elegant older man opened it. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. with straight longish brown hair. She caressed my cheek briefly. We both reached out for the same one. She had to move into the next room. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together. I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. and found the suite without getting lost. . she called…come say hello to my Christina. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. He sat next to me on the couch. At the second glass of 35 .

and gently stroke my arm. He opened it. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. and we 36 . and I could not imagine better circumstances. but I took it in all the same. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. of course not. Everything was perfect. and he kissed me very lightly.champagne I was beginning to feel good. he said. . Every now and then. I wanted it to happen. I kissed him back. . He came to us. I was looking at him as he was driving. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. It was a suite. Ten minutes later. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. in a convertible Bentley. I was a little bit nervous. I said I would be there. and said goodnight. the breeze was cool but not cold. smile. and looking into each other’s eyes. on this most anticipated adventure. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. You’ll see. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. Most people had left. right by the water. and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview. We were reclining on the couch. Isn’t it great? It was.Come with me to my hotel. little old me. We were standing very close to each other. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. he would turn to me. I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. I rented it…the company pays for it. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people.Is this your car? . This dashing young man was taking me. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. He took his key and we went down to his room. He said that Francesca was very tired. he said to me. and went down to the lobby with Oliver. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. We arrived at Eden Roc.Nah. then turned away to go back to the living room. I felt so glamorous and grown up. 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 I did not see Francesca. I knew he was wrong. I said yes. I grabbed my jacket. “You are so sophisticated!”.

Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. . he said. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep. I went back to the room. I got up. He got back into bed. exciting sensation. I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me.Don’t worry…I will be careful. Afterwards. The water was cold. At first. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. I was for a time. Oh well. and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. 37 . and I went down. . whatever that was. and then he kissed me. which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight. He undid my dress. There were no stars. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little.Are you taking birth control? He asked. I felt sticky and afraid to move. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. I was sorry that the lights were out. “You have beautiful shoulders”. as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries. but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. I am not. I thought. I started drifting off and isolating myself. The pain was not too bad. and went outside. turned away from me. I felt numb and detached. There was enough light from the hotel above to see that there were rock steps going into the water. I was shivering in the water. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air. it had been very enjoyable. But then.Here’s to us. Our glasses clinked for the toast.No. . . and then turned off the light as he undressed and I took off my underwear. Oliver was kind and gentle. I was getting really cold. he said. he got up and went into the bathroom.went out on the deck. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. at the critical moment. we drank. because I wanted to see everything. know everything and be fully present. and the clouds were attacking the moon. So this was what made the world go round.

and put on my travelling clothes. Oliver came out smiling and handsome. and off we went. We exchanged phone numbers. and we need to be at the 38 . The sky was overcast. It was five minutes to nine. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. under the covers. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. asking him where he was going. This morning.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. When I woke up to the sound of the shower. last night. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. 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. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. I wanted to hide it from her. and rushed to my room. I picked it up. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. He noticed my expression of dismay. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. Somehow. dressed in tennis whites.Oliver was still asleep. I led the conversation. but my mind was already with Francesca. and all kinds of trivial questions. I went into the bathroom. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. . so we left the top up. I picked up my key. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. it was already eight o’clock. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. when he was returning to California. I know it is early. and ran hot water all over myself. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. So he took me to the Martinez. and I did not linger. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. 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. I took a shower. He did not argue very much. this is Francesca. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc.

Don’t be sad. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. uncontrolled. The window started going up. I could not see inside. I crossed over on the beach side. way out there on the Croisette. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. Marco was waving at me from the other side. We can’t afford to miss this plane. The tinted glass was too dark.Sorry Francesca. Please come. Christina…but we need to go. “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. Finally. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. 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. I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. but rushed and fell into her arms.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca.Ciao Christina! . not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. as now my cheek was right against hers. I was holding her very tight. Francesca was calm as usual. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. . I looked over to the other side. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. out of breath and disheveled. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. then glided on toward Nice. I was relieved. sweetie…go for the good life. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. to not have to wait for the red lights. There.airport at 9:30. and she disappeared behind it. The words came out of me on their own. . . Francesca spotted me immediately. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. I must have grown. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. once at the sign.

I was so stunned. but did not see him. I looked for Tomaso. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio. looking despondent. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. I could swear in one of the newscasts. a languid feeling would come 40 . driving to school. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. I did not have my passport with me. after she had invited me. taller. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use. 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. Francesca was their friend. but a real woman. I stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. way back then. and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. I had to find out her address. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. and now. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. I finished school eventually.with each other. I don’t think they would have been very supportive. But I did not do it of course. Sometimes. now that I was not only older. Besides. I did not attend. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. I was just alone. then I would insist that we do something about it. and not mine. with some other family members that I did not know. And if so. I guess. It was during a week of finals for me in California. I found solace in playing music and singing. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. I think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. My mother did not attend. I was in the middle of finals. As it turns out. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. I saw Marco. Why was I so eager to lose my virginity that night of all nights? Why did I insist on changing at the Martinez. I had to return the car to my mother. full of regret and unanswered questions. I was in my car. I hated taking birth control pills.

-Tell me that you love me… . athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. tell me in Italian! . But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way. to visit family and old friends. There is no implication of the place being special. 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. tell me life is good. It was a beautiful sunny day. or even write one if so inclined. . I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. and I would imagine our dialog… . even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. amore. no. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California.I do…I love you.Francesca. In my case. 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.over me to assuage my loneliness.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. and an eventual movie. or inhospitable for any reason. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. across from Le Bon Marche department store. In California where I live. there are cafes. order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. or read a book. with friends or alone. Francesca would be there with me. You can sit on the terrace and people watch. perfect.No. where I was born. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. I had come to Paris. in the chic part of Silicon Valley. Here in Paris. .Life is good. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 . on that warm day in June.

Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. After she left me. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. and the thought of her.the crowds in Hollywood. started interfering with my side of the conversation. I knew a lot about them. Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. There were pigeons everywhere. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. whether it is between women. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. 42 . men or whooping cranes. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. weathering flashes of interest. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. Besides. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. like grey fruit ready to be picked. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. wavering. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. insidious. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times. show or otherwise. and Marie liked it. I don’t believe they were really interested either. or even in San Francisco.

I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. 43 . I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. she was smiling while looking in my direction. it made her face look exotic. She was reading a book. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. Unbelievably. which I did with some success. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”. and how I had met her. We were sitting at the narrow end of it. Next to us. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. She was drinking a café-crème. The anecdotes kept pouring in. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. and even though it was not really elegant. I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something. She got up and went inside. I felt some relief. Her book was still there. and they could do no wrong. and to be present in the conversation. The terrace was fairly empty. George and Francine were in stitches. I had seen the movie long time ago. make it wild and funny. She did not look like Marie in the least after all. a woman was sitting. and pursued the conversation. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. put on her Ray Bans. She came back very soon. She looked at me very briefly. the woman looked remotely like Marie. across from the doorway. unlike Marie. and she had beautiful. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. The woman was thin. Marie had a straight Greek nose. facing the rounded sidewalk. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. and the audience hates it too. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. She sat down. as if I was on stage. as if during an intermission. at the terrace of the Babylone. He was asking me questions about a common friend. He hates it. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace. Her expression was soft and bright. huge green eyes. I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. here it was again. willing my thoughts away from California and back here. I started telling the story.

I am in love. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. grey sweater. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. The insane. that I would have these feelings here. and I rushed into the station. ready to 44 . in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. Then before I even knew it. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. nuns. There I was right here in the land of my youth. Just like that. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain. beige oversize canvas handbag. But that was precisely what attracted me. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. and white tennis shoes. George and Francine were getting ready to leave. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. I got up too. But the train was prompt and ready. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat. We came back. I hopped on. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. and shady characters. tight black pants. their favorite mode of transportation. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. we were gone. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. as if in a dream. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball. and my mind was racing all over the place. Here. in this café. and the woman this time did not look up.My heart started pounding. old people. I took in the white collar. I thought. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. This is ridiculous. We said goodbye again. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. in Paris.

you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. and if things did happen for me. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. where I belonged. 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. for the first time since losing Alison. She is tres amusante!”.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. Everything happens for a reason. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. I’ve read all her books. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. 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 assumed the woman was French. Besides. What to do? What if I came back to the café. By the way. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. here I am. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. and it was all for a reason. In a foreign language. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . which would also make me very uncomfortable. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. what if? Chapter Two The train. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life.

The escalator. here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. out into the sunlight. I walk past her and go inside the café. pretending to make a phone call. asking me what I want.Quatre heures dix. If I go slowly. but she spoke to me! . at the same table where I was with George and Francine. -No. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. Someone gave me the face as a present. I sit down at the terrace. Downstairs. but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before. and said: . I see the waiter bringing stuff. I’m not. up. but walking very fast. in California. but I have lived there for twenty years. I said in English also. but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps. I can go twice as fast. if I wait any longer.J’aime votre montre. . I sort of designed it. Ten past four. Up the stairs…No. 46 . and she is reading the book.Excusez moi… She spoke to me.Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. with an empty café crème in front of her. and that is good. where does it come from? . and I bought the band where I live.Well. and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. It smells bad. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it. mind you. She does not look up. What do I do now? The waiter comes. .running. Up. She is still there. 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. I said in French. In French as I feared. She still has not looked up. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch. I’ll run into George and Francine. If I go fast. I come back up. Besides. tennis or not. she can leave anytime. s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… . God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. I was all wrong. it is dark. I’ll have a café crème.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. she will be gone. He does not seem to recognize me.

nothing happens. an easy. She took off her glasses and put down her book. I said. but it paid well. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. 47 . this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately.You speak French beautifully. And then it came. my work at the theatres. and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home. it is very short. and it’s the end. and whom I still cared about a great deal. warm and maybe a little sad. I said in pure American ritual. This man and this woman meet in a café. and it gave her a visa.. no preparation.Oh. yes? . with no warning. She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations. -Linda. She was beautiful. cheerful laugh. I am one. she said. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends. she was from New York. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. mind you. .Well. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with. My name is Linda. my failed music career. seemed to have trouble swallowing. I am from New York. Right now. -Hi Christine. I said: -Oh. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever. let alone working with the ones we love…She too. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. she said. I introduce myself to her. Her smile was absolutely devastating. Linda said. I explained to her my situation. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. there was a lull in the programming. and I was not nervous anymore. The conversation flowed very easily. We laughed together. no calculation. I’m glad to meet you. fast and easy. Her name was Linda. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with. at the beginning of June. I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. She did not look like Marie at all.

as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. about Ridley Scott. But. and still not die a horrible death in the end. intelligence. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. Four forty five. how. I wanted to understand everything. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine. . I said it half heartedly. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. gloriously. and said: -If that’s OK. strong and true. I looked at my mountain watch again. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task. and who paid for what. and how I liked most of his films. and come out of it all happier. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. simply. how he created the character of Ripley. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men. and shook her head. Courage. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. and maybe I had just made a new friend. like movies and books. the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. and I felt so totally comfortable that I didn’t even resent the fact that the conversation started rolling on safer subjects. -Were you going alone? -Yes. -Not really. open it up to the air. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. it’s all the same. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. I had been brave. The street. I’d like to go with you. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. or the woman who managed to be proven right. The good part was that I had been open with her. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. wiser. So. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. define it. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model. and kinder. I had come back to the café.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. these days. Here I was. 48 .Linda smiled. I was supposed to go visit a friend. women. but I have no real recollection as to when.

I was taken aback by the request. Julien and I were together for two years. I loved going to movies with Alison. I said. It was very exciting. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. it was better than nothing. The details were slim. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. but it’s very recent. -What happened with your boyfriend. 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. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends. 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. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute. then he met this Italian model. As I spoke. I said. -Not really. If we could be friends. When the lights dim in a theatre. Once we were seated. -Oh. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. It’s no fun. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going 49 . and the film itself was about to start. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural. Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. because I did not have any expectations. My host was very sweet. I did not feel nervous. and I felt like visiting royalty. Sometimes. and things are not yet very clear between us. she said. I said that would be quite all right. I asked. it’s simple. and we went all the time. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. -I know the feeling. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. She smiled. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation. 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. there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. and now he is with her.

and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . nice meeting you too. but I always kept it in check. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any 50 . she grabbed my wrist. It was very sad. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone.I loved it. -Well. Linda seemed to react. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. violent at times. I felt like I knew her. and where anything was possible including friendship. and while the plot was progressing. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. At the end of the film. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples. As we walked out into the still sunny street. and our cheeks would touch. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone. turned around. you know” I did not have the time to answer. but somehow exhilarating and empowering. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. 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 only to look at my watch. The temptation was not far. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. it’s late. She shook my hand formally. The film was good. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. because she stopped. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them. but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the movies again after she and Marie broke up. Thank you very much for letting me come along. I turned to her and thanked her too. I have to run. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. Equally seriously. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. -Oops. and I’m already very late. I’m having dinner with a friend. and rushed down into the Metro. The whole experience was strange. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. including love. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. in a strange sort of way.

plans. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. Now. to keep my attention on anything. and anything 51 . for once. and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. doesn’t appreciate you. But in a way also. 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. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. I always found this to be quite true. and very silently. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. But these days. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. She would listen to me very patiently. stupidly. it’s on theirs too!”. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. I did not know her last name. except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. honey. nothing happens. How could I have lost her so soon! Chapter Three It was very difficult at home. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. In a way. and not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner. just to have someone to go to the movies with. cruelty or indifference. I was. then she would have wanted to. and it’s the end. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. but it was too late. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. So I would talk to her and try to make her see how valuable our relationship was. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. nor exactly where she lived. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. let them go. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. it felt to me that I could be one of these. They meet. I had vanquished my own passivity. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by.

pleasure. and you will have everything. and we had gone to a movie together. the next day. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing. Yet my feelings were so strong. I can still fall in love. and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. you said.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. she would contradict her previous statements. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. No. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. What to do? And suddenly. 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. because I was open about my potential availability. and that was why I liked her so much. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. Be remote. I had an idea. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. I could go lurking there until she showed up. Then. it was time for practical considerations. If there was some truth to all this. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. No big deal. 52 . Above all else. I could see her face. Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. maybe it was time for good timing now. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. I always felt then. Marie-like nose and all. Bad timing. Here’s to you. It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. and that I was bound to lose every time. Yes. and therefore undesirable. When Marie left her. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. she would be there. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. unattainable. Well. you know. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow.

Stop that too…One day. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. and not take any risks. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. and the way I felt now. Linda…I don’t even know Linda. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. There is nothing going on there. Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. and look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. risked. and it still had that liberating. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. 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. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. I am crazy. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. Sleep. rebellious aura to 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. which I guess soothed me a little. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. I could never forget it. Yet there were crazy things that could be done. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. “Thelma and Louise”. 53 . Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. Maybe that was what life was all about. Ah! But here I go again. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. and in between movies. but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. I’m not so hard to please after all.Or maybe she would not be there. Stop. It would give me something to do in the afternoons. Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together. What fun. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. that gave you some power even though you had none. and every time I closed my eyes. “Village of the Damned”. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. uncertainty. in a nondescript café. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. Don’t think about Alison. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. Then. I kept trying to sleep.

and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. Five past four. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. but not on the shelf. It’s time. Yes. different. 54 . So here I was. It was cloudy today. I’ll do what I can. She will tell you to get lost and you will. My watch. Pocket books? Yes. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. through the store almost running. It took forever to reach the bookstore. this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. OK. something unique and wild. lurk Rue de Nevers. big deal. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. I went upstairs. Brick walls were not necessary. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. I went down to the telephone. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. wait. it was three thirty. Maybe rain was in the air this time. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. Alison does not want me. pretending again to make a phone call. her loss! I will never see Linda again. I had the car today. go and go to the Babylone. Besides. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes.I woke up very early. Maybe he knew her. OK. that would be fun. to have breakfast with my mother. Friends were the only solid value these days. do it all. No Linda. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. let’s go up and see. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. Too early. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. At least you tried. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. My mountain watch. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. I must have slept for three hours all and all. Francoise had advised me to go. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. spy at the TV station. Worried about parking. Parking was going to be a pain. and stared at everybody. it was worth it. I went in. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. Maybe she was inside. look stupid and not know what to do with myself. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. I walked up the stairs. Create something different with life. Besides. Oh well. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. and came back down to call a friend. Ha ha. What else is there in the world than unique. It was there all right. Out on the street. and everything was going to be OK. Marguerite Duras. Maybe she was a regular. She was not there. I started feeling better. Look up the listings.

Quarter to five. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. too late to go to the Babylone. It was all a ridiculous fantasy. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content. I checked the Pariscope for films. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: “So you are a regular here after all!” I 55 . at everything. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. however. I went and enjoyed the film. on your right. since I was so tired. I had the car again. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. and sat at the terrace. I went back down into the parking lot. pretending that I was someone else than I was. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. and this time. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. Here it is again. I had my day organized in such a way. Linda. walking in that general direction. a fool with Linda. I was going to be a normal person. have lunch with some members of my family. I went to a friend’s house for dinner. I had seen everything. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot. a fool all the way. and just start reading it. Twenty past four. The next morning. That’s far enough. theatres. I slept better than the night before. No one was there. The irony was just perfect now. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. The car was the other way. I had parked it on the street. I cannot wait any longer. even though I did not quite understand it. all these figments of my fertile imagination. be real. here it is second shelf from bottom. I have too much to do. and decided to go to the café. just in case. and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. Alison. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. and schedules. furious at her. I will not come back tomorrow. and I ordered a sparkling water. Forget it. Like that. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. I did not even look at anything. dejected. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. It seemed forlorn and deserted. I was. I think from the inside of the café. but what the hell. That’s that. It was too late.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. Let’s waste some more time. drove the car out. Here’s a bookstore. a once in a lifetime spot. and had a good time. I looked at my watch: four thirty. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. The waiter came. careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. Come on. I bought the book.

Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating. I turned around. as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag.Well. I had forgotten their power. Her smile hit me again. I knew I had bought it for a reason. I’ll be here! She got up. Her eyes were made of cool green. “What time is it?”. with no shirt collar underneath. Now is the time to enjoy things. and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. looking straight into my eyes. Linda said as she sat down next to me. Her manner of approach was not very varied. I felt so incredibly strong. . . but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half.See you then! She was gone. all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say. and touched my arm gently. but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”. everything fell into place. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up. not really. lugging that huge bag. soft. maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! . What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling. I am. . . Life is really starting now. exciting. I have to meet someone for work now. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. A joke… What a joke.Yes. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the 56 . Yet here she was. She laughed.Five o’clock. I was hoping to find you again.Well. she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. . I laughed. the universe. . I won’t stand in the way. as a matter of fact. intelligent. Here it was! It was late. Are you a regular here? . and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. She looked great. it was like the world.No problem.No. soothing. I did not know how to get in touch with you. interesting and interested. and it is happening. This is what was meant to happen.I’ll tell you what.was too shocked to answer anything at all.

but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. that woman is obscure. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. I liked it. I wonder why Linda was reading it. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. The narrative was ominous. 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. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. 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. I should know. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . but no one can really explain to you what they are. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. 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. to think that one could replace the other. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. I was happy to see that all and all. and that it was wrong. in some strange way. like everything else is good in small quantities. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. I said to the preciousness of the moment. Not everything should be explainable anyway. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. But what if. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. and tried very hard not to think for a while.present. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. but it won a major award. God. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. I guess that’s possible. and if she was. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. Alcohol. dead wrong. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book.

Everything seemed to come very easily around her. nothing ever works for us. she’s beautiful. The brick wall was in place. and ask me to dinner out of the blue.everything. everyone is all of a sudden always younger than you. I’m sure. 58 . I did not hate it. It may seem like a long time now. 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. with battlements and all. not thirsty. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me. getting slightly crazy.“Moderato Cantabile”. heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. forget it. that’s how long it takes. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. But when you get to be forty. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight.I was curious to read what you were reading. Five minutes. Should I prepare for good things. Ah. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great. and then. Here’s the waiter. I was rambling on and on. money and fame. so I don’t have to wonder anymore. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. We’ve all got bad luck. just in case I had to leave fast. Linda is coming back soon. and I was careful to pay right away. But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. She smiled as if she understood. I was starting to feel a little bored. Somehow. I was not hungry. The pigeons seemed to have calmed down. suddenly she was back. It’s OK. before I even had the time to really worry… . What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight. . ten if you really nurse it. especially in love. what does one do? Light a cigarette. 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. I did! What a relief. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. and the people were walking out of the Bon Marche with bags and packages of all kinds. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating.

Alison…Alison. and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. Her face was soft and gentle. I felt shy. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy. I had thought. This is life.What’s going on? I lied. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up. the bastard sons of absinth. We needed something to link us together. made from various plants including artichokes. The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. 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. Pastis . and we had a nice conversation about these drinks. . but never explained by schoolteachers. I was nervous. She heartily agreed and we went inside. I had looked at her. without water or ice. and I remember forcing myself to like it. We had done pretty well going to the movies. listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. I think I’ll have a Pastis. for the first time since we had met. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. 59 . and you can make it just the right strength.Oh. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant. light. I was far from hungry. the liquor of oblivion. Ricard or Pernod. at some point during my adolescence. Pastis .It is still early. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. feel somewhat connected. I offered. It used to be in vogue. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule.Where shall we go? It was early still. This woman loves me and I love her. She was sitting on her haunches. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again. nothing. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun. I had something to lose. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet. all of a sudden. . The thought of going now seemed impossible to me. diluted in water is refreshing. but this was different.. . Linda laughed. Tailor made. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. Linda was looking at me in a strange way.

I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. I was amazed at the effect she had on me. “As the room is softly fading. I was letting myself stare at her. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. I can only kiss your shadow. smiling. In the open. Home…I guess California was home to me now. Alison was home. It was getting dark. 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. where is home now? Linda was explaining something. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it.It looked like mud. everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. and I had nothing on her. I’m glad I had some time today. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye. and one silver ring on the right hand. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. She was looking up. and still live a perfectly happy life. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. at least in my thoughts. It felt great to watch her do that. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles. as far as I knew. poems. because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. everything was always new and exciting. or will she send me a note ten years from now. Her hands were beautiful.So. describing it all with great hand gestures. . I said she could never have a Fernet ever. Songs. Hell. Work was not really work.I was so busy yesterday. I said. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. . and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. with long. tell me more about yourself… 60 . Everything was just fine. saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. and she kept pushing it back. Yet. trimmed nails. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. daring and devastatingly original. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends. thin fingers. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship. I worked for ten hours in a row.

patron saint of transportation. Both her parents were still alive. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin. I learned bits of trivia about her. Take a couple of steps. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. as she asked me about my parents.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ. as in St. . oh no. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… .Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . as my father had passed away a few years earlier. On and on we went. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. and religions are full of them. third generation American. but I didn’t go.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant. give me some clue… . so I have none to tell. and the drinks were giving us a nice buzz so we decided it was time to go to dinner. I just like all these legends and stories. As I was telling her everything I could think of. I only had my mother. not at all. where we went to school.No. One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her.Oh. and she learned some about me. and all that. For some reason at first. I felt better than I had in years about them.Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. We paid and got up. So. Hell. but that I would do it for her sake. I’m not a power seducer. There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. Linda. I need the other person to be a part of it too. and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”. the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless. to meet me halfway. That’s the fun part. Sorry. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. where they came from. and her last name was Christoforos. who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . Christopher. as if anything we shared 61 . It did not really matter to us whose family had money.

But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. as we were walking into the Closerie. It meant “Your love is a waste of time. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. the mahogany and green. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing anything. or “I won’t”. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. Alison. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. We had the evening ahead of us. Can you read 62 . as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. we were laughing at everything. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. It seemed that to her. but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. as if we were saving ourselves for later. the one that was beyond looks. history. staring at me softly with no fear. She looked just fine. and the best was yet to come. always seem to win out. and I knew it was the beauty from inside. 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. and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. our history was like a curse.contributed to bring us closer. convention. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. yet none of it meant anything to her. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. because they don’t already know me like you do”. She would shut me up. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. 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 if it is not you it won’t be you. unable and unwilling to change and create new possibilities? We can do anything if we learn to notice and appreciate our gift for happiness. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. Getting to the car. I had no history with Linda. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. and I would go home feeling powerless. and will never lead to anything”. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. our familiarity the kiss of death. I shall love who loves me. whom I love more. I would reply that I could go either way.

I was trying to overhear their conversation. The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. a song I could definitely identify with. made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other. the pianist was playing “Crazy”. We decided on oysters on the half shell. . after discussing the weather.What’s happening? I asked. a great luxury in California. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. Linda was looking at the menu. and I had developed an aversion to them. Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary. and Linda turned back to me smiling. . Yet this time. as if things were getting a little hard to handle. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky. Finally. Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night.Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! . and were given a very nice table on the verandah. but a regular if expensive commodity here. salads. he said au too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten. Next thing I know. but with a desperate sigh. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic. 63 . The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar. and we are both going to leave and say goodnight.Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out. but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way. and he was talking directly to me.

that’s the only way out of this. . I sighed and got a grip on myself. that’s Pierre. I don’t happen to know you very well. and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. He is a friend of Julien’s. 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 usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now.Oh. . Linda looked at me with a puzzled look.Well. remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. . . 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.Here’s to the weirdness of life.He calls you Lindy? . Also. Why did I have these feelings.You know. . My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting.. you know. and that look set everything back on track for me. 64 . . and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers. it sort of hurt my feelings. and had not even introduced me to him. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time.Yes. nothing. even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time. I like it better than Linda Louise. I was puzzled at myself. Come clean. which did include a little bit of anxiety. come clean.What do you mean Lindy? I said. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. that’s how friends call me.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. She kept looking at me as she was drinking. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. it’s funny. that’s just it. she said.

But. Still. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case. was she? . because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter. like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude. and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole. He sees Julien all the time. and delicate handling. he did not say anything more about it. as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. He just talked about himself. encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues.But were there ever times when things were good? 65 . I shared some of these thoughts with Linda. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. . superficial and boring. manipulative. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet. whether it is romantic or not. . Don’t. care. or worse. just removed. It all sounded so familiar. as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. . and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend. It felt as if she was already dead.You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… .But Alison was not boring.. and especially why they did it. Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse.I guess I am still angry at them. But they don’t want the case solved. solid. It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone. his own problems with his girlfriend. as if anything he had to say would hurt me. and beautiful. as usual.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. I feel that we all need each other’s help.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. so he can help.

the way her face would light up with youthful energy. always mysterious. that of the soul within. Alison. Sexually. For some reason. she became soft. though… . and an endless belief in the goodness of this world.It was hurried. wonderful madness.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. . Alison was often languid. generous and seemingly invincible.You know. beyond conventions. and was interested in everything. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. . She was not eating but was swallowing hard. she could be a hedonist. was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. . mainly marijuana. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. the food arrived.As she said that. passionate and elegant at the same time. before Marie. I told her about Yosemite. and maybe this is why wine was invented after all. as if the memory of past loves. vulnerable.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly.Does it worry you that you liked it? 66 . I described my joy at seeing her. I can’t say I did not like it. Everything became magical. and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. Linda was staring at me intensely. 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 full of questions. I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. could fuel the present with spirit. the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there. I stopped talking. unemotional. passion. She did have a gift for happiness. leaning her head to the side. she said. if they were good and true. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective. about Alison’s good sides from our past. in whole. with unbelievable beauty. pure. . But when she was herself and connected. emotionally unleashed. and came out of it all sweet.

I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful. It was a little sad. She told me that she hoped I was happy. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction. but I was more involved with the other one. The first one only once. which had not in any way altered our reality. I ran into her at a party. movies.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances. Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them. with a very loud laugh. and started working for a TV station there. I was threading on thin ice. this and that. two. plays.How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. . We had finished our food. . and I just went on my merry way. . 67 .I went back to New York. and all that.A little bit. we were afraid to cross a certain threshold. it was in her past and not in her present.Oh. I tried to agitate some memories. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something. Somehow. It was wild. and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way.What happened after that? . . The champagne was almost gone. There was no music playing anymore. You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”. I met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. forget the whole thing. Her name was Lisa. especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. You know. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. disturbing dream.. to hide my fear of vulnerability. and I was kind of happy to see her. I was not with anyone at the time. because she was getting married the next week. 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. but we were both trying to ignore that power. 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. After all. She was with some guy.

but very self involved. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. This says it all. and how the grass was always greener on the other side. and plant my face in front of hers. until she finally gave in and kissed me. and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. I guess. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her. I could not say: believe me Lindy. and how attractive they were. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela.She took her time to answer. It must have been rough on you. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. and say: “Hey”. as in reality it was seldom like that. Of course. Knock on wood. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . Linda’s eyes were filling up. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. and in the prairie. Not in the circus. you know. Come on fate. loud and clear. Maybe if I was Marie. A bad sign. I got it. back off.Would you want to get back with him? . The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. give me a break this time. OK. 68 . Finally. maybe I don’t either! I said. She went on talking about herself and Julien. But I wanted my wild horses free. Give me something. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment. .Well. It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja. But I am probably kidding myself. We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us. and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. That would have been a lie. Lindy. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. she said. She said it always bothered her. I would like him to come back so I could say no. He was a journalist of some kind. with women it is different. Julien was a good guy. . I realized how hurt I still was about Alison. I thought.I don’t know.I am sorry it ended like it did. The tamer and the tamed. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. Back off.Well not really. . he had decided to cross over to the other side.

and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. where I was to drop her off. . and you have to live with your impression after that. just to be 69 . and she did not seem too scared of it. We were silent on the way to the car. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear. I felt betrayed and cheated. and a code keypad to keep the burglars out. it was comfortable. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. . Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway. so back into hell I went. sagging a little. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. incredibly alone and rejected. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope.It is very nice.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. You have to come see it some time. whichever way it would go. this is where I live! The building looked very old. usually for a short time. with an old doorway. as if we both had the same impression. I’d give anything to own it. She came back upstairs. I drove straight into the narrow passage. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. When the reversal finally came however. was like giving in to the forces of evil. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love.Here. how forward can I be. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot. and we were ready to go outside. People seemed to be having fun. that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. Sometimes. like a good antique. I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich. when we connected. anxious about the way the evening would end. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. smiling and looking around too. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. to make this into a good.

Talk to you soon. but all the same. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it. It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on. . and then gave me a good. I got back to the car. is get her phone number this time. and headed for home. and it felt good. I felt empty and incomplete. honest. We have to do it again. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment. California style hug. She suddenly got out of the car. our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to 70 . The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. take care… Her voice became very soft. This was a lot of fun. I like the Babylone. She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours. I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did. she turned to me and said: .Well. dead in its tracks. She went to the door.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here. . and give me yours too.Will you give me your phone number. OK? . let’s! I said. good night. I did too. she said. but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers. As the door opened. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. I held her tight. In a panic. it was just a hug. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building.You take care too… She was gone. fished the key out of her giant purse.Yes.Yes. . I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. The least I need to do. as if I had cheated myself on something. None did. . 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. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes.

the City of Light and Glamour. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison. The architect had thought it all out very well. with a common toilet for the whole floor. But the brick wall had a breach. Otherwise. 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. At times. intellectual adventure you-name-it. or at least a clear. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum. And also of course. (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. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. After my dinner with Lindy. who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me. he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. How I sat there 71 . You could hardly hear the neighbors. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway. But in the servants’ area. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. screams. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. In my mother’s building.come out and give their names openly. honest verbal overture. This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head. It could have been great. right next to my ear. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. by making some kind of a move. Everything that happened in the hallway. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. and would only affect our lives negatively. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. hurried steps. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. freedom. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have.

it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. She would come to me when she was ready. if not always clear. If she did not. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. but definitely mutual. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. Other times. 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. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. of all places. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. she had sought me out. and how unexpected…In Paris. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. with somebody else. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. however. she had already done the infamous deed. Paris. Maybe it was just 72 . even if she knew what could happen between us. In fact. then if nothing was gained. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. So far. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. and swear to be with me forever. until she finally would have to give in. There was some history that I had to contend with. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element.laughing at her crude approach. nothing was lost either. as long as I kept the messages true. On the other hand. Yet to me. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. 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!”. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. Besides. 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. let’s get on with some real fun.

Have a good time. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. and started applying my methods for not thinking. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. but it’s like the Lottery. there is only one way to find out. and leave a lot to the imagination. and I almost had a couple of accidents. Here it was…An answering machine. seeing friends and family. this is Linda. yet totally unaffected. after our dinner. and she hadn’t called. I kept myself busy. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. These devices are great. without much success. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. The days went by. I was dialing her number. No such luck. Should I give up on the whole thing? Why hasn’t she called? I kept wishing that I had an answering machine in Paris. I cannot come to the phone right now. If you don’t play. I felt discouraged. tsk. Lindy Christoforos. still nothing. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. more movies. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. Sunday came and went. “Hello. but if you would like to leave a message 73 . I’m going to do it. all right. Ruthie says: you might not win. saying only as much as was safe to say. you have nothing to lose. Go ahead. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. Ruthie. You could prepare your message in your head. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. and leave it on the machine. A bonanza for shy people. 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. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. talking to them. straight woman in tennis shoes. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. as I had in California. lay off. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. All right.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. husky. American in Paris. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it.

she is just like Alison. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. “Hope to hear from you soon. the machine answered. Hopefully. reluctant to leave my room. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart. we’ll see. It would be a waste. and that there was none to waste. I left my message in English. there was no other word for it. And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it. No call the next day either. If she claimed not to be interested. What an exotic. “I think we should talk about things a little more. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. And at least. I had come back to the café all right. I was going crazy. attractive voice she had. Again. Second. First. as she repeated the last part in French. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. and I don’t get anything out of it. and later with Angela. I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. 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. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. then to dinner. and to not give in to disguises. things became more manageable. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. and tucked her cold feet back in. and leave it to fate. Please call me”. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. but there was nothing I could do about it. Once you had mastered step one. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. She had picked me up. Two days later. “après le bip sonore”.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. I had not asked to start this. The thought was infuriating me. well I just had to go with that. Waiting for phone 74 . she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. I said. please do so after the beep”. cover ups and rationalizations. Please call me in the mornings. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. Once more. Oh well. just like Alison. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. I hung up. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. I found myself dialing her number again. I hope everything is OK. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly.

Sometimes. we’ll call you.I would love to. adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. that there was no more hope. She does not know what she’s missing. and that was it. especially now that I have your phone number again. . I slept with great difficulty.Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. and you are not listed. early in the morning. I enthusiastically agreed.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. with a lot of Alison dreams.No.You mean tomorrow? . deciding at times. . I kept myself busy all day again. A little early for a French date. I said goodbye.Fine. She did not seem afraid or disturbed. she does not want me. I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. It was Lindy. . the phone rang while I was still half asleep. I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. are you kidding? This is great. if she does not want me. she was ahead of me and surprised me. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. 75 . of disconnection. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… .Well. “Same here” she said very sweetly. Don’t call us. Then. Saturday as in tomorrow. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. just for old time’s sake. Once more.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again. but after all she was not French. Right. Well. How are you? . dreams of rejection. I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being. But things could be arranged… .Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . Dream on. ha.Yes. We hung up. “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams. ha. It is the daily grind of the betrayed.

a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. I was going to have the car. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. The clocks once more. as a friend. seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. threatening to rain. After lunch. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. How was I going to spend the day. if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated. I knew something had to be done and that the situation had to evolve fast. The weather was overcast. it was much more fun to go there. Neither of us really liked it. I called Francoise to reschedule our plans for the next day. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. and who knows. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. I had lunch with some friends from high school. I decided not to 76 . nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. had much cleaner. The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. and the stigma had stayed with me. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. extremely noisy. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. normal people. In my mind. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. Besides. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. and that it was very seldom the other way around. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. and inviting her was out of the question. it gave her a more assertive attitude. I felt that other people. I took my mother with me to see a movie. after a sleepless night.

I walked back.Yes. an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. She gave me the code. It was locked. It was almost a quarter past seven. she sounded very sweet. Smiling. 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. As I drove. At the end of this drive. life was beginning to make sense again. I needed to get to a phone and call her. welcoming. as I went into the apartment. waiting for me. and told me it was on the fifth floor. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. Sorry… She hugged me.Allo? . and tried to open it. She looked 77 . I could be fashionably late. she said without questioning my use of the nickname. there is Lindy Christoforos. The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. Everything was all right. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. . which was definitely worth checking out. I punched in the code. She answered. and started going up the ancient staircase. Fortunately. Here we go.Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. I had to make change and go downstairs to call.Lindy? . I decided to cross the bridge. left. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. and finally found a place on the other bank. Is that you? I described my predicament. and left in the still crowded evening. as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy. Seven twenty five. I went back onto the quay. I realized I did not have the code. and leave everything to the moment. She was on the last floor. and did not know where the apartment was. . Oh. the tangled webs… I drove all the way into the Rue de Nevers. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. I arrived at her door. unlucky in parking saying after all.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. I cultivated my anger at Alison. the carrier of Christ. and searched the side streets to no avail. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now. feeling much better. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. It felt and I felt a little bit slanted.

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.


. you’re right! But for some reason. I felt very close to Lindy. and talking about ourselves.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . full of resentments and judgments about 81 . I poured us some more wine. I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing. one to hate. it would sound so horrible and abusive. 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. I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon. and I agreed with her. Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. that I would have been better off straight. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy. I still think gay women should be above all this. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified.It sounds to me. I think gay women are so screwed up. the world and everything else. Compared to her.. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. The straight world has gone beyond that. and the other ones to hate themselves in response. both parties have to agree. sipping some old cognac. Yet she hangs on.Sometimes. some that we had never read but wished we had.You’re right…Of course. trying to stay relatively cool. cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. . and found some books in French and English that we had read. like you know. we checked out Igor’s bookcase. so exclusive and unreal? . a tough biker type with tattoos. side by side. gay or straight. We sat on the couch.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however. Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed. This Alison thing has made me question everything. it depends. really. After dinner. I didn’t care. that the key to all this is the same. Brahmin or Untouchable. If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . Somehow. I said.Oh well. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. At that moment.

quite peaceful.everything and everyone. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. and emotional release.And now? . whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. yet compassionate of others. As I was speaking. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. Lindy. empty glass in hand: 82 . The magical courage came back to me. unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. . We felt. There was silence in the room. I asked her permission. and answers to the riddles of the world. Behind her I saw a clock. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. I should go. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other. generously. easily. so you can always enjoy that special moment. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. . even though I would be at a loss to explain why. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. and devoid of any expectation. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. for whatever reason. . ease. and more of a promise of serenity.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. I could hear her breathe.It feels good. in our review of the world and the past. She seemed kind. prophecies. as it had a few times before. protective of each other.Now my mind seems empty. .What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone.I was thinking of how. The silences were easy. from the simplest to the most difficult. and lit an after dinner cigarette. .Is that good or bad? . Panic seized me. There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. all I could think about when I got here was whether or not I would ever sleep with you… She smiled. evaluating he changes in my mood.

. gathering my things. when we found ourselves involved in the softest. “I’ll call you” she whispered. I’m sorry… . and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. sweetest. she opened it. bright as day. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. I did start toward the bridge. without pulling back. and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing. dream like…like life itself. against mine. and I have to be there. The cathedral was still lit. climbing up the stairs out of breath. fullest kiss one can imagine. but she said she would take care of it all. I felt some huge wave of unreality wash over me as I walked across the bridge. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. I would constantly wake up.Aie! Goodness. thanks to some inner pilot who was taking over my feet. I had no idea where the car was. We were both rewarded for our courage. When we finally pulled apart after quite a while. Oh. and she. Instead. 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. In Paris. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. I am sorry to keep you up so late. and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. she had the nerve to give me a hug. 83 . I had a wonderful evening. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. 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. my heart was pounding away. all was said and done. embraced in a final hug. and turned around to say goodbye… . The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. I bounced out into the cold night.No. illuminating the river banks. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers. We walked to the door together. and leave her cheek right there. I mumbled something about helping with the dishes. We both laughed. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. and imaging myself getting up. We are shooting some location footage for the archives. I did not work.Thank you. I was putting on my jacket. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. its searchlights on.

I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times. walk everywhere.What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. My only comfort was to walk. How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? . On the third night. It was half past ten.Well. and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… . how are you? . saw and heard nothing. She knew. Again. drank nothing.Lindy? .It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams.Come only if you want to. If she is home. You remember the code? . The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado. You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar. Hi! I was hoping it was you… . but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous. My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing. I was wondering if you could possibly come over… . if you don’t know what I mean.Yes.Well. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing.Now? She sounded as if she was joking. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught… 84 . I knew. it felt like a dream. I saw some friends. but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number. but in dreams everything always seems so normal. Closing in… Suddenly.I think we need to help things go where they want to go… My ears were pounding with the bass drum of my heart.I was hoping it was you in person too. .Yes but… . until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor. well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” .

her beauty. 85 . and left.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. and escaped into the shiny night. there were no cops to give you parking tickets. I regained my composure. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. The monuments on the river bank were all lit.Hey. This is what I want to do right now. I was not particularly nervous. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris.This is OK. started the car. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city. where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk. and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. and said “All right…” with relief. and I was ready for it. things get really clear for me. like a special favor to me. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions. and yet the streets were still crowded. . The world never sleeps. grabbed both of my wrists. I could never have imagined that you… . jeans. directly into the Rue de Nevers. Paris never sleeps. in awe of her poise.. I went down to the garage. My mind was blank. I knew exactly where I was going and why. I turned right on the bridge. Paris would never be the same again. I was staring at her. a jacket. In this new life. and I was already used to it. are you? . She closed the door. shoes…I was going through the motions. right? You’re not scared or anything. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle.Sometimes. It was on a weekday. I put on a T-shirt. and sat me down on the couch. Life had just become different in the past half hour. but not like a native either. and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. . You know.

Suddenly. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. I had a thought for Alison. carefully. but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. Yet there was the recognition of love. 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. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. I had seen it done many times in movies. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come. When we were done. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. heavy. while we were still together. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. Lindy reached behind her head. No performance anxiety or uneasiness. Why hadn’t she simply called me first? 86 . and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. the one who savored all that life had to offer. it was thick. through the skylights. We undressed slowly. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. shook her head gently and let her hair down. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking. We barely knew each other. the one who could share. making a game of folding each item neatly. Sleep meant relaxing. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. Then. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. young. we sat on top of the bed facing each other. So we simply stuck to words for a while. and fluid like water. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there. and keeping her eyes on me. It was late. dawn finally won over the darkness. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship.

the betrayal.What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance. pleased with herself. rite of shame. Instead. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… .To me. If she calls me. then it will be a sign and I swear that I will do the rest of the work. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while. and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. that will be it. 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.You did. .It seems to me that we are on a sailboat. I feel like time has stopped. in a cocoon of softness. Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother. but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her.. It was a crime against me and Lindy. if she doesn’t call me.Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. 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. as usual. I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. who was smiling at me as she was asking the question. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear… 87 . She was definitely innocent of any such crime. 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’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. nor will I wish to… . Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… . and take it all the way. We were very different people from the night before. We were swimming in warm waters. and were now collecting the fruit of our labor. I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. I guess we both had done a good day’s work. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. And somehow. . and I will never go back.

so indestructible.You mean now? . and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together.Fear of what? . Afterwards. it 88 . and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment. we slowly got up. We were making plans of the greatest importance. We sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner. laughter. Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. which superseded and sanctified everything. In fact. All I could find was a welling up of happiness.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. but I could not find that many at all. this freedom. I could not find any.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. and I would have a normal day. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. She was laughing and we felt so strong. Everybody else could stay in the dark. we could spend 48 hours together in a row. It was evident that what really counted. 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. Except that I knew that when the evening came. that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. . looking for my familiar insecurities. maybe a little smug…Well. On the contrary. this comfort. No evil could ever come of it. or worse yet. Then Lindy would go to work. or straight or anything. None of it seemed to matter one bit. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies.. 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 would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave.Are you feeling any of these fears? . fear that I will turn against you. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay. was this great happiness. The day was really here. calm. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. what God or whoever meant for us to feel.

I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. 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. There was a God. 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. The car was still there.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. They gave you the terminal for free. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. or a Goddess. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless.was the essence of generosity. It was time for me to go. illegal. the magic was lingering. My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. I had to go. Yet. She had to go to work. at the door. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. singles groups. of intelligence. and had given me the nerve to come back to her. out on the street. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel. The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. and then collected on your various calls and time online. I felt elated and shaky. with me. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps. and sped toward the darker western skies. someone watching over me. It was light out. pick up bars and gay bars. out of place. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. I was out in the light. who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. I had been so lucky! . Someone had to make a decision. 89 . you are faceless. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. “Hi. I backed it up to the Quai. Bravely.

I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. I entered the code. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. slow and gentle.. Lindy had taken Monday off. born in Argentina. I usually always took the Sunday flight. with him. while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. It was hot and sultry.No.Are you going back home then? . She did not want to cancel. I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead. Rue de Nevers. and we were mellow. It was as if we were on a beach. So this time. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. and we were going to get our 48 hours together. on my way back to California. On a clear summer day. Once more. Climbing into the taxi. Then we closed the door on the stairs. I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other. the temptation…I smiled back. I had packed. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies. I was in my home 90 . But Lindy and I had made other plans.No. She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. who lived on a barge on the river. not really either…I guess I’m just going away. I had said goodbye to everyone. . I had jumped off the train of time. and called a cab to leave on Sunday. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs. The bag was not too heavy. the streets and the city. I’m not. Lindy came down to help me. Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. no…thank you. There I was.No. Without any prompting on my part. It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing. on Tuesday. .

happy. We toasted to all of us. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever. The door was open on an interior full of paintings. and he said he had prepared food especially for us. yet exuded calm. . but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen. We walked along the still crowded square. according to him. we were in love with the world. he said. I laughed with him. By the window on the river side. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. Dinner was delicious. Every item had its place. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. He took us on a tour of the barge. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall.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. His paintings were abstract. a table was set for three. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. young. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Good for sex. with candles and a bottle of wine. from his mother’s ancient recipes. and up to the bridge. we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. It was small. lounge chairs. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop. to friendship and love. with an exuberance of color. but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. The deck was decorated with flowers.Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. 91 . Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. Diego was a great cook. We agreed that while it would be great to be able to make out in the open like these people. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. We were in love with each other. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. seafaring lore and framed photographs. and the world loved us back. We climbed aboard and right away. It had a bedroom. .

as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. we said goodnight to our host. Finally. At first we thought of going to a movie. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds. I had escaped with a lie. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. 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 were stunned that everything was going so well. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. We finished the evening with yerba mate. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. and gave us each one. Lindy was laughing a lot. So. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. For dessert. and walked off into the night holding hands. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him. 92 . one of the most erotic tangos ever written. That night. so I did care. 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. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. we woke up giddy with renewed energy.. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. he said. my friend Diego. We had some coffee and some fruit. Unfortunately. exhausted and overwhelmed. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together. to always treasure as a souvenir.Always be good to each other. The next morning. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. 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. our friend and protector. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. but could not stay apart for too long. we had dulce de leche. Maybe that first day at the Babylone.

-You know that I love you. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side. She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. and now. and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. so we would always remember it as ours. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. and we needed a rest. sitting out on the stone steps. she was in love with me. As we were talking. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. In between the rumble of tour boats. We were pointing landmarks to each other. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel. It was not very crowded up there. She admitted hers were too. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. 93 . The men had danced until dawn. flatly. and the view was sweeping and breathtaking. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. Neither of us had ever been up there. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. and started up the stairs. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. the hunchback who lived in the tower. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. Going down was even harder than going up. I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. We entered from the side.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. unbelievably. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. There was nobody there. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. but it was a different story to say it like that. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. and sat down below the stairs.

she said. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you. and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed. But I was also surprised at the relief I felt.Come on. -Nah. I took a deep breath. I smiled back. I guess we had found our legs again. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge. . Wow. We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other. and as always trying to control her hair.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. but then dared to ask the hovering question. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever. slender and graceful. I could not stay in Paris.Now I know why you wear running shoes. I was shocked. Let's go home… We went back up the steps. . past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai. . I said. . I caught up with her. We stayed silent for a while. then walked briskly across the bridge. -Yes. Lindy was running ahead. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. Then finally. -How about…I stopped mid-sentence. under the protection of the trees. We were so well tuned by then. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. I did not know what to say. We kissed in the shadow of the stairs.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank. Once Rue de Nevers.She replied softly. 94 . It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. we did not waste any time.

but that was just fine. Lindy returned. -Will you always desire me? -Yes.Once there. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand. it was also my own. I started with the obvious. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis. She smiled in the candlelight. Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. elated by the memories of our day together. She had put on a jazz CD. not eating very much. and toasting to everything. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner. I will always love you. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. It was long. and the ease with which we had solved our future. All we had was champagne. no obligation. I called a cab for the next morning. we stayed as long as we could. Once done. It was simple: no upheaval. Then she took her turn. shooter of arrows. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. son of Aphrodite. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. I said. We were feeling euphoric. -Will you always love me? -Yes. I always will. At some point. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. It was slow. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. Even if I can't do anything about it. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. and we sat down to dinner. daring and lighthearted. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. it will always be there. and dreamy. 95 . just live in the present and make the best of it all. I repacked my suitcase. I folded the letter. and lover of Psyche.

and made love for what we felt could be the last time. the loving ahead of us. Not surprisingly. Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due. but we woke up in time without the alarm. A man and a 96 . There was promise and regret in her tone. Finally. and finished packing. the time came. we eventually did fall asleep. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. 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. We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up. I said I would do the same. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. We sealed the vows with a kiss. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. but she could have meant Paris. A lifetime had gone by. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. I will be. it was harder to let go than we expected. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch. I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself. before the next morning. One last kiss. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go. and soon we had to forget about dinner and proceed with all the living to be done. As it turned out. I did not know which one to go with.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home. I think she meant the apartment. I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. -Next time you come to Paris.

after all these days of excruciating hesitation. I realized how far we had come in those few days. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. 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. I had never lived like this. I began… The van started honking. 97 . She was gone. I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. and effortlessly walked me through it. let the chips fall where they may. I might come back soon. I had never known such freedom. -J'arrive. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. When we pulled apart. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. her eyes were down.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. Lindy had taken me by the hand. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. or I might not. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. She waved back. hopping into the van and waving. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. conformity. and had to sit down on my suitcase. And then. Hearing her voice on the recording again. I finished the cigarette. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". I had never loved like this. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. I suddenly was exhausted. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. I lit a cigarette. We had a new take on life. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. my taxi had arrived. I waved back. but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. -Lindy. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. with such intensity. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. and stereotype and there was no turning back. j'arrive! She yelled back.

After the phone call. drinking a little too much. Half way through dinner that night. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. beautifully open. I went to the airport bookstore to see if by chance they had a copy of Marguerite Duras’ “the Lover”. so we can solve all of their problems. 98 . of inner or past troubles. 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. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. they didn’t have it.Lindy. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. 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. 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. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. If I did not end up being with her. There was also an aura of kinship. 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. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. No surprise there. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. Of course. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". There she was. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart. 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. As I entered the kitchen. and off I went. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. well maybe I could be more like her.

I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers. Coming back to the dining room. California. but thought that I never would. and Bethany was not a kid anymore. I had been doing this for the last year or so. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. It was just for a couple of days. and Minna. 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. and hoped that I would stay in touch. while he is himself about to die. Venice. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. The similarity in names. I remembered Minna’s offer. So there I was…I felt good. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. intelligent. This was a time in my life. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. I thanked her. They were unconventional. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. I liked both of them a lot. I was lighthearted. and well travelled. I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. I was appalled to think that at my age. I still was not worried 99 . As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges. struck me as most ominous. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. in which the aging hero. So. a sophisticated. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. Gustav Von Aschenbach.

holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. beautiful. rich. and yet keep it light. a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. and not too smoggy. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. We had talked at length about VJ the night before. as I 100 . Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious.about Aschenbach. Much to my chagrin however. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. He was slim. It was almost a relief to leave the house and drive on the freeway on my way to Hollywood. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. Minna was very matter of fact about the award. I said. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. His smile was broad and confident. and know that it was just a gift. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling. That morning. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. and being one of the recipients. In fact. and in love. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple. “Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. I was plotting to make sure that our moments together would be perfect…What did that mean? I didn’t really know. So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. elegant. 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. It was a beautiful day. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her.

feeling alive. it felt like I had finally become myself. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. Then went back North and through Hollywood. Everything looked good this morning. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe! 101 . I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. guardian of our dreams and our longings. There. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night. I felt generous. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. and I was smiling back. The mist was gone. just for fun. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. We even discussed a particular night. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. After all these years. things might go better for me. and stared at the waves for quite a while. I decided it was too early. The meeting went very well. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma.revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. saying hello. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. and went right back outside. and walked into the empty house. The water was quite chilly. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. People were smiling at each other. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. hurtful and out of line. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light. free and ageless. It was not too different from the times. but I did not feel the same. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. I felt better. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. and walked in with a spring in my step. and so did the lunch afterwards. well named Tinsel Town. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice.

. . Ah. Interesting. . you never know when it might be lost or stolen. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment. I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. when I heard the front door open and close. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before. three shelves below. cooling the glass with ice cubes.Sure. I did not want to intrude. Then some classics. Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah.I thought you were going out tonight. I went back into the house. that would be nice.Yes. 102 . M. I was examining the book collection as well.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered. She smiled. . "Anna Karenina". I said. a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm". 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. pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little. when it started looking a little more like dusk. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello. well so did I! She did seem upset. I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. I went back to my dinner. finding a plate. . and was getting ready to warm them up.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion.D. by John Wyclife. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm".Come here. I went back to the living room. Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying. but I wanted to be comforting somehow. Well. and as I always like to do. maybe she forgot something. in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs. .Finally. and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea.

but it was on voice mail. and she flirts with everyone including him.She seemed to begin to relax a little. 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.Oh. . . there is this girl Olivia Ramos.Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. . . we talked about our travels. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. Australia. but he was not there. The wine was delicious and light. and I was determined to help in some way. We talked about movies we liked. He always says he thinks she’s really hot. I can talk about it. of course. going down easy and was relaxing both of us. where we had been. by chance. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers.Ah. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. please. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better. what we thought. For all I know. I could guess. on the road. She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out. . or would you rather not? Talk about it. She was talking easily of this and that.Do you have any idea where he went? . . don’t hold it in.Or at the emergency room. 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.He thinks she’s hot. It was dark outside. . in the middle of the Outback. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went.So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it. . eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you? 103 .Well.So I called his cell phone. We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001.

more than one. . I’m not. I do.Well. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work.Ha. I have.Well. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. but if outwardly you are quite stunning.Are you kidding? .. and did not seem embarrassed at all. that is of course very important… But Bethany.Oh.What do you know about this. I looked back at her. I mean it.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . What do you want to know? 104 . maybe. 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. she asked. smiling. 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. At least that's what I would have done… . from what you told me. .Well. However. have you ever been with a man? . since yesterday. I said jokingly.Yes. this might not mean much to you.Yes. I said it lightly.No. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. . . I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. Wyclife's arcane instructions. We have fun together. She looked at me with a funny little smile. She looked down briefly. like a joke. she laughed. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. but that’s just me. he’s never said it in my presence. amazed at her beauty. I have been around the block a few times. At least. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. he pays me nice compliments every now and then. She looked straight back at me. . and softly chuckled. do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… .

San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time.No.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? . .And off we went. It was as if each moment was intensified. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf.and in a relationship with a man. my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. East Los Angeles. I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years.Quite different. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility. and women are not always very careful with that. in San Francisco’s North Beach. into territories where acquaintances seldom go. whether I was with her or away from her. I said. and of an overwhelming 105 . . and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. I reminisced on how any time we found ourselves alone on a beach or a secluded trail was an excuse to make love. I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal. Actually. the ones with the little houses and the little lawns. how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles.Was that your first time? . Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. in Redondo Beach. being with a woman is dangerous. and I suddenly stopped talking. Still. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep. I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women. illicit and were deeply hidden. one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. oil pumping ones. even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. On the other hand. quasi erotic friendships with men. I became conscious of my breathing. with a woman I had met at a cafe. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves. All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial.

Tonight has been so good. more intoxicating than the alcohol. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. we went up the stairs. of an elegant. asking how school was going for her so far. 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. I got up from the table. and started gathering the dishes. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. to find Bethany in my room. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. this is not quite the Caribbean. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. I can still hear the ocean out there. as I am entranced by her. and she replied that it was going quite well. Finally. putting away unused silverware. filling up the dishwasher. Wrapped in the towel. I broke the spell by making small talk. and it is strange to say. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. I luxuriate.desire to kiss her. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. Instead. So. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. wiping counters. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. Bethany got up as well. My head is spinning a little from the wine. to our rooms. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. Dying is not an option. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. so a shower will be a good substitute. 106 . and was shamelessly taunting me. and we cleared the table. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. The salt in the air is exhilarating. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However.

I want to give Bethany what she wants. sent back to their dark alleys.You know…I need to say this. . as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. And then. What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience.Oh Bethany. enough suffering. I don’t really care. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. The return is made of gentleness. along with an old business card from something somewhere. and I find it. to my utter surprise. I turn around. OK. .a little too big for her. she props her head up on her elbow. She laughs. She lowers her eyes and starts . hours ago. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. forgotten .Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. tenderness. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging. But then. 107 . oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder. we end up kissing instead. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey. if only what’s his name could see you right now. I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home.Mind if I come in? She says… . All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. and feel all. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me. all the way to some strange ease. we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation. but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not…. I say. I’d like to get it. tonight…”. . naturally. she kisses softly. where all shame and self consciousness disappear. a man’s robe. where the travelers know all. She looks flushed and smiling. I guess it went quite well after all.Of course not… -That book you mentioned. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane. where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp.

As I turn off the light. I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night. Now dear reader. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off. I’m not sure she would appreciate. though. how did you sleep? 108 . I hear the front door open. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible. and tiptoes toward the door. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions.Good morning! Said Minna. .. as I realize Minna is coming home. you better get out of here. . I grant you that. and by now. How easy it is to lose track of time. But in reality. 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. I got up. She kisses me again lightly. Her beauty is overwhelming me. We talk softly. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. I follow her. 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.Don’t worry. don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters. and I snap back to the world. I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. . Just consider this my legacy. I must have.Here comes your mom. Bethany…I am not free anyway.Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. I guide her. 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. We jump off in tandem. She smiles back. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. I am in a way teaching. or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. I smile. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. and things don’t always have to work out that way. I am in awe of my student. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about. “…angel…” I say. She is looking at me. I am not expecting anything from you.

At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease.What can I say…my pleasure! 109 . I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. I waved back. and it was well worth the trip. I came down and started loading the rental car. we got absorbed in the anecdotes from the banquet. when after what seemed to be a very long time. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table. looking at her. “Good morning!” She was smiling. My inner Gustav was somewhere else. . but honestly. mixing stuff in the blender. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux.Yep. trying to make sure that I would remember everything.Thank you Bethany. and the conversation stayed away from my evening and how it went. -Oh. . I saw Minna wave from the terrace. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode.Out of the corner of my eye. By the time I was packing up to go. and it was about to be over. She laughed quite easily. I finally started relaxing. I couldn’t. chasing young things around Venice. how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. and she was a perfect hostess. up. I walked over to her. I slept very well. even when she was sad. As I turned toward the house. . energetic. I was feeling quite happy with myself. I answered that it went well. but on the other hand. she was always radiant. I realized I had feared for a few minutes that I was not going to see her again. and I was feeling strong and gliding though life on a path of lightness and freedom. for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. I said goodbye to Minna. not wanting to be distracted from the moment. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality. I said. . I could see Bethany. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality. radiant. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. dressed. feeling easy and detached. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing. Bethany came back just to keep me company.

Bethany was gone. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality. I wondered why Minna was not responding. and then decides that they have too many friends already. my mind was still with Bethany. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. 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. For about a week after I returned home. To my surprise. From the shadow of the house. so I got in the car and drove away. in my dark little heart. I think she would have been more the confronting type. Minna and I were not old friends. but no pain. It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. 110 . Somehow. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. and I felt that for her. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. and to whom one can talk about just anything. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. I am not very good at blowing kisses. 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.We both started laughing. back home near San Francisco. Relieved. and was fully expecting a response. to knowing how Bethany was doing. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. For some reason. no response ever came. She had always been so pleasant with me. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. this cut to the quick. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. I had said that I did not expect anything. I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. I walked back to the car. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. However. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. But I didn’t really know. so far. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. So there was a certain amount of longing. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. and finally answer me. hoping that she would catch up with her email. Still somewhere. I was looking forward to hearing from her.

and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. I felt like I was really cheating. nor really a desire. Often. as I was distracted most of the time. if I was alone somewhere. It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. And it was true in a way. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. at her most…well. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice. 111 . I would also have moments where I realized how silly this whole thing was. smooching at this year’s Gala”. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. This. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes. thinking about Bethany. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. I had been so cool. but everyone around me. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. Now. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. He was not as striking as VJ. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. radiant of course. the local newspaper in Venice California. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name. Not only my partner. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. I felt like I was Bethany myself. About two months later.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. and imagined what it would be like to be her. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. Some other times. regret. and maybe also shame. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option. and plunged me into a dark vat of infatuation and yearning. Bethany was the angel of Death. and became angry at myself. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her.

I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. a feeling of being vulnerable. One day. had given of herself without fear. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all 112 . had somehow caused an unconscious regression. California. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. but the streetlights had come on. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. ostracized and unloved. In the end. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. to horseback rides in the hills. 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. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. and chasing after some unknown idea of success. they all looked alike. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. without defenses and with a real purity of intent. and uninteresting. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill.was too distracting. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. accompanying me to work. and could not help but start singing along full blast. They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before. going for a sexy look. and that memory was with me a lot of the time. My memory of the event however. except for Bethany. As I was singing and driving. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike. but more the idealized image that we have of them. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. too unnerving. I had been aware. I loved the song. that last bastion of privacy. to sleep. and I had to exorcise it somehow. But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. It was not dark yet. listening to the radio in my car. to this gorgeous world. 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.

As it turned out.that was there for me. albeit in a more restrained. Maybe it was the circumstances. almost spiritual way. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. To be honest. At least. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. and maybe it is better this way. and reminisce on occasion. It would last. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. still with delight. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. I do relish the memories of that night. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. it was our own. She found it again where she wanted to find it. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. because it lived in each of us. it was like that for me. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . and we had opened that door for each other. was not about despair or death. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. When I look back at our brief moments together. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. and I found it deep within myself. I see nothing but love. but I could see clearly at that moment. 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. who was beautiful and brave. To keep… The most important. The feeling was familiar. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. Food for the mind 114 .feedbooks.

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