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?!


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

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

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

Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys.No. She spoke to me in English. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? . but Francesca started in.Not far. even less obtained as a result. and then she changed the subject. she was doing summer homework with her tutor. . . but sweated a little more for the math.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . but had recently become mine. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help. He will be here for two nights.I am meeting a friend at 10:30. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. When I arrived at Ondine’s. and her English was definitely superior to my Italian. 7 . . and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. she said. and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion. . actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . .coffee.So.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . and besides you cannot get lost on the island. I replied yes. I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone. I aced the spelling dictation as usual. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house.Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. and they let me join in. to get to the harbor. It’s too small.Mrs. You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question). .Yes I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. I don’t believe they were really interested either. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. weathering flashes of interest. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. show or otherwise. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times. and Marie liked it. There were pigeons everywhere. or even in San Francisco. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene.the crowds in Hollywood. I knew a lot about them. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. started interfering with my side of the conversation. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. wavering. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. like grey fruit ready to be picked. men or whooping cranes. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. 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. Besides. After she left me. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. 42 . leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. whether it is between women. and the thought of her. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. insidious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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