Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

Published: 2009 Tag(s): romantic bisexual Paris lesbian "coming of age"

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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

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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?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took a shower. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. It was five minutes to nine. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. I picked it up. He noticed my expression of dismay. I got up and was mortified to see that there was a blood stain on the otherwise pristine white sheets of the prestigious Eden Roc Hotel. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. and ran hot water all over myself. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. it was already eight o’clock. and I did not linger. dressed in tennis whites. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. but my mind was already with Francesca. Oliver came out smiling and handsome. and put on my travelling clothes. last night. and off we went. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. The sky was overcast.Oliver was still asleep. This morning. and all kinds of trivial questions. I know it is early. asking him where he was going. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. I went into the bathroom. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. I led the conversation. So he took me to the Martinez. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. Somehow. when he was returning to California. under the covers. and we need to be at the 38 . I picked up my key. We exchanged phone numbers. He did not argue very much. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. this is Francesca. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. But can you come at 8:00 for breakfast? We realized we could get on a flight directly from Nice to Rome instead of going through Paris. . I wanted to hide it from her. so we left the top up. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. and rushed to my room. When I woke up to the sound of the shower.

. “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. Marco was waving at me from the other side. There. I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . “You cheated on me!” I did not reply.Ciao Christina! . out of breath and disheveled. once at the sign. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel.Sorry Francesca. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. I crossed over on the beach side. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. I could not see inside. I was holding her very tight. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. The window started going up. I was relieved. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. Finally. The tinted glass was too dark. and she disappeared behind it. way out there on the Croisette. . I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. Oh my God! I had missed them…It was 9:05…Maybe there was still a chance…I rushed down the stairs without waiting for the elevator. Francesca spotted me immediately. . to not have to wait for the red lights.airport at 9:30. The words came out of me on their own.Don’t be sad. Francesca was calm as usual. sweetie…go for the good life. but rushed and fell into her arms. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. uncontrolled. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. then glided on toward Nice. as now my cheek was right against hers. Please come.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca. We can’t afford to miss this plane. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. I must have grown. Christina…but we need to go. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. I looked over to the other side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

but no one can really explain to you what they are. I liked it. God. to think that one could replace the other. who was she anyway? Can we really instinctively know if people are good on first impression? I could tell from a mile away that Marie was operating on a level that was different from the one I was on with Alison. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. I said to the preciousness of the moment. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. dead wrong. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. and if she was. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. like everything else is good in small quantities. that woman is obscure.present. and tried very hard not to think for a while. but it won a major award. I guess that’s possible. I wonder why Linda was reading it. in some strange way. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. I won’t disappoint you. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . like Katharine Hepburn used Elizabeth Taylor in “Suddenly Last Summer”? Maybe she was trying to get her boyfriend’s new girlfriend interested in women so she would leave him alone? I was getting goofy and was thinking of ordering some alcoholic drink to calm my nerves. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. Not everything should be explainable anyway. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. and that it was wrong. But what if. The narrative was ominous. Alcohol. I was happy to see that all and all. 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. I should know. 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 was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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- 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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

com Food for the mind 114 .www.feedbooks.

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