Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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


TRAVELS THROUGH LOVE AND TIME Journeys beyond our selves… By Christine Hall Volkoff

Part 1: NOSTROMO One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing spread your wings and take to the sky… DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin “Summertime” Day One


It had started as such a good day. As I sat on the bluff amongst the pines, looking at the entire view of the island all around me, the cicadas were so loud that I could hardly hear myself think. The sea was calm, with a few white sails here and there. I could see the little harbor, with pieces of the village around it. I recognized the Navy fort to my right, and the white beaches to the North, and tried in vain to spot my parent’s house off the Chemin du Langoustier. It felt so good to be out there in the warm breeze, taking in the scent of hot pine sap, the sweet loneliness of being up there with myself and my dreams. One day, I would be up here with someone I loved, and we would kiss in the shadow and protection of the maritime pines, we would own the world. I got up, and went back to my clunky bicycle. The brakes were so bad, that my friends and I had bought some cheap sandals with high cork heels at the Porquerolles market, so we could drag our feet and use the heels as brake pads in order to slow down. I cautiously started down the trail, bouncing the tires over the pine needles and roots. I was on the island for the summer. My parents were both gone, typically in their separate ways, my father in Italy and my mother somewhere in Scandinavia. I enjoyed having the house to myself. Not quite to myself since I had Simone, my governess to take on all the hard work and boring tasks in the house, and take care of me. It was a great deal, and I appreciated every minute. The freedom was palpable, almost unbearable, and I could only hope I could summon the experiences to make it unforgettable. I rode through the village, still bouncing on all the rocks, and took the one paved road to the left, back to the house. I had worked up an appetite, and was looking forward to sitting out in the courtyard, eating Simone’s delicious food and looking at the bees dancing around the wisteria. I was reading a mystery. I always liked to read while having lunch. At night I would usually discuss the day with Simone. I parked the bicycle in the service entrance, and knew right away something was wrong. Simone looked worried. “Your mother called!” she said. Oh no. “Is she coming?” I said, with a mixture of hope and fear. I was hopeful that maybe she was taking enough of an interest in her progeny to come and spend some time with me. I was afraid that she would be coming home and start taking away my precious freedom. -No, but she has invited Mrs. d’Alessi to stay here for a week. -What?!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once the moon was up, the cool breeze also rose, and we decided to get back onto the boat. Fortunately, I had left the little ladder unfolded at the stern. Francesca went up ahead of me. The drops of water on her body were like glitter in the moonlight. I could see the chain around her waist. - Do you know where the towels are? I did, and I got them for both of us…We dried off inside the cabin, and closed the door. Inside, the light was soft, and since we had already made the bunk beds, they looked cozy and inviting. I went into the little bathroom to brush my teeth, and then settled down in my bunk with my book while Francesca took her turn in the little bathroom. The boat was gently rocking, making creaking sounds and I could hear the waves licking at the hull. I liked that a lot. I was imagining that we were miles away from civilization. Me and Francesca, we were alone on the ocean. She came over and sat on my bunk, she was still naked, her shoulders wrapped in her towel. She took my hand. - You are a wonderful kid, she said. Then she bent over and lightly kissed me on the lips, lingering just a little. When she stopped, I was bathing in the light of her smile and my heart was beating faster. She was still holding my hand. Without thinking, I brought her hand to my lips and kissed it. - You need to be happy, my sweetheart… As she said that, my eyes started blurring with tears. I could feel uncontrollable sobs welling up in my throat. She lifted me from the pillow, and held me for a long time. “…there… there…” she was saying, rocking me gently. “There, my angel…May your dreams guide you to happiness”. In between sobs I kept trying to say “but I am happy”, but I don’t think anything intelligible came out. When the storm finally subsided, I realized her neck was drenched with tears, and I pulled back. I used a corner of her towel to dry her, and she gently patted my swollen eyes with another corner. We were so close; I could feel the warmth from her skin like a heat lamp. She took a tissue from the little night table in between the bunks, and handed it to me. I blew my nose, and greedily grabbed her hand again as I lay back down. I was looking at her face in wonder. I was taking in her beauty and trying to slow down my breathing. She stroked my hair and my cheeks for a while. Her touch was calming and electrifying at the same time. She kissed both my eyes and my


lips, soft as a feather. Then she kissed my hand, as she was letting go of it to get up from my bunk. I was still trembling, as she lay down on her side and turned off the light, whispering “good night, sweetie…go to sleep…lots to do tomorrow!”. I turned toward the wooden wall in my bunk. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, and the water against the hull. My breathing was still shallow and I was shaking for no reason that I could think of. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, I settled down, and turned around to face inside the cabin. The moon had risen even higher, and moonbeams were crisscrossing through the portholes. I could see Francesca sleeping with abandon, looking so vulnerable with her arms up on the pillow like a baby. She had kicked off the sheets, and her body seemed to be translucent in the moonlight. I would have given anything to have the nerve to cross over, and lie down next to her, holding her tight, and feeling her skin against mine, her hair against my face. I watched her sleep for quite a while. As she shifted in her sleep, each movement was one more expression of beauty. How can anyone be so perfect and not be cruel, obnoxious, or dead? I caught my eyes closing on their own, and I eventually drifted off into sleep with dreams of ocean waters and endless voyages through comfort and love. Day Six When I opened my eyes, it was late. The hatch was already open and sunshine was pouring in. I could see part of Francesca’s leg outside, she was already up. I could smell coffee in the little kitchen area. The boat was gently rocking and I could tell it was going to be a slightly cooler day. I got up, folded the sheets and put them and the pillows into the duffel bag. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then went up to meet Francesca in the bright light of the morning. “Good morning, amore mio!” she said, “here is some breakfast for you”. She had cut melon and strawberries into little cubes, made some toast and buttered it, and arranged everything neatly for me on the placemat on the folding table. As we prepared for departure, I was literally floating…not cautiously stepping on the deck, but gliding, swinging around the rigging like in a Hollywood musical. Francesca and I smiled at each other a lot. At some point, I hoisted the jib and dangled from the deck to undo a line that was caught. I saw a look of concern on her face but I looked back and waved. She smiled and blew a kiss in my direction. She kept calling “amore, let’s


go, ready about!” “amore mio, let’s do another one”, and with every call, I turned into a better sailor. The sea was a little rougher on the Western side of the island, but by then, we were a well tuned seafaring team. She was my skipper, and I was her first mate. I was flying about the deck adjusting this, tying that, tightening, loosening, until the boat was steadily breaking the waves, full and by, panting at a good clip. Francesca held the wheel with her feet, and leaned back into the sunlight. I lay down on the cushions in the wheelhouse, and rested my head on her leg. I could see the white mainsail and the sky, and with every lift of the boat, I could feel the pressure of the muscles in her thigh. Every now and then, she would gently stroke my hair. I would look up at her and she would smile at me. It was like time had stopped, and the world was nothing but this infinite sky, dark blue sea and the wonderful isolation of our small sailboat… “Amore, it’s time…one last starboard tack to home…” I got up, she sat up at the helm, and we executed our last tack perfectly. I sat at the bow with my legs dangling, watching the harbor approaching as we encountered more boats and waved at them. I started furling the jib, and then we brought down the mainsail as the boat was gracefully turning in a circle. She started the motor, and we entered the little harbor, as I was lowering the bumpers. We had been gone for weeks, it seemed. I was arriving in a foreign country, an exciting new land. The small harbor master’s building, the small flotilla of white fishing boats once familiar, were like a discovery…a quiet side entrance into a new life. There was a large motor yacht in the harbor, the “Orion”, flying the colors of Greece in the guest slip at the far end of the dock. I busied myself doing all the chores I remembered from the last time I had sailed on the “Nostromo”. I folded the jib into the sail hold, and Francesca helped me wrap the mainsail into its blue protective cover. As I was swabbing the deck, a man was helping Francesca with the gangplank. He was dressed like a sea captain in a light opera, with white pants, a blue blazer and a white cap that he took off when he started talking to her. They were speaking English, but I could not hear what they were saying. As Felipe was walking toward us to get the keys, I took our bags out, locked the last hatch, and watched as the man hopped on a little golf cart, and sped off toward the Orion. I had left the big duffel in the cabin. Felipe said he would bring it over later, and we walked off toward home. I was windblown, my skin was sticky with salt, my hair matted, but Francesca still looked like she had just stepped out of a giant clam shell like Botticelli’s Venus.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and to a semi-Californian it is always amazing to see and feel how animated the Paris streets are and how the passers-by. Here in Paris. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. or read a book.Francesca. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. . You can sit on the terrace and people watch. tell me in Italian! .Life is good. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 . because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. In California where I live. across from Le Bon Marche department store. where I was born. athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. and an eventual movie. amore. Francesca would be there with me.No. I had come to Paris. There is no implication of the place being special.I do…I love you. on that warm day in June. In my case.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. -Tell me that you love me… . or even write one if so inclined. and I would imagine our dialog… . there are cafes. or cool. even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. perfect. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California. order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. or inhospitable for any reason. way back then… Part 2: MODERATO All Dharma is a dream… Tibetan Proverb Chapter One Cafes are genuinely important to the quality of life in Paris. no. with friends or alone. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. . It was a beautiful sunny day.over me to assuage my loneliness. to visit family and old friends. in the chic part of Silicon Valley. tell me life is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stunning in the golden light, at home barefoot and in jeans, a white shirt, and a proprietary air about the place, that gave her even more presence and beauty. The apartment was an attic with beams, and a whitewashed ceiling. The floor was covered with antique red hexagonal tiles, with a Navajo rug here and there. The floor was at a different level in each room, and the walls were decorated with paintings by unknown painters, the Picassos of the future, a great investment for her friend Igor. The windows were looking out on the roofs and the river. The night was misty, soulful and mysterious. Lindy was taking me into the kitchen, which was not really a kitchen, but opened up into the large living room. The lighting was soft and subdued, with candles and dimmed lamps. She had some Slavic women’s choir softly playing on the stereo. I was expressing my enthusiasm about the place. - You can see why I’d love to have this as my own. Unfortunately, Igor is coming back this fall. - Then where will you live? - Good question. Julien and I used to live together, so I don’t know where I will end up. The kitchen looked like it belonged in a medieval castle and not this penthouse apartment. There seemed to be a whole dinner prepared on the counter, a salad bowl, oysters, clean dinner plates, and a bottle of Bordeaux. I looked puzzled. - Oh yes, she said, since this is Saturday night and it’s madness and lines everywhere, I thought we would have dinner here instead of going out. Is that OK? - I think it’s perfect… We sat down for a while on the couch and had glasses of wine. The moment was truly magical. Outside, I could hear the horns, the senseless agitation, and the meaningless frenzy of Saturday nights in a working town. Inside, there was this feeling of safety with underlying excitement. Nothing can really go wrong. It’s all here, ready to go, just enjoy the ride and don’t pretend you are not really on it. I had asked Lindy how she had been since the last time, and she was telling me. The level of intimacy had definitely risen, even though things were still quite formal between us. She had seen Julien, and had had lunch with him.


- He was all right, and making a real effort to redefine our relationship. I kept being torn between asking him about Sonja and refusing to talk about her. What would I need to know about her, except that she is richer, more famous, and more beautiful than I am? I don’t need to hear that. I wanted to tell Lindy that I thought she was quite beautiful herself, but I kept quiet, saving all my nerve for later. We went on for a while, comparing Alison and Julien, and their ways. I described to Lindy, how Alison had made a specialty of rejecting me and never missing an occasion to tell me how she never really was in love with me not now and not ever. If Alison hinted at a conversation she had had about us, I always hated myself for asking what had transpired. Somehow it came down to “This will hurt your feelings, because I don’t really love you”. Sure enough, my feelings got hurt really badly, and I hated myself for ever believing that there was more to it than “It was fun for a while, and then it was not fun anymore, so I left you for somebody who was new and more fun”. The fact that Marie was one of the most abusive people I had ever heard of did not seem to figure into her reasoning. The fact that instead of being angry at Marie for leaving her and treating her poorly she took it out on me did not seem to cross her mind. Yet, yet, there were times when I could have sworn that she loved me, that we loved each other body and soul, that we meant the world to each other. Where was the truth and where was reality? Could there really be two realities? - Don’t you think, said Lindy, that there can be two realities, one that is real, in harmony with some kind of universal flow, and one that’s an illusion…? The hard part is to decide which one will hurt us the least. I think that Julien was happier with me than he is with Sonja, however right now, he needs to do this. Somehow, it did not bother me that she sounded still so involved with Julien. I felt safe because she had not pretended to be in love with me or anything of the sort. We had a clean slate. I was still nervous because I felt my grip on reality had been loosened by my experience with Alison, and I was not sure that my instincts were in any way to be trusted. It was a little bit like driving a Mack truck on a mountain road in the fog while blindfolded. How good a driver was I really? Did loving women always include power games and drama? Was drama really the most desirable thing in the world? I felt that the only way to protect myself against drama and meaningless pain was to tell the truth clearly about what I


wanted. At least, I could pull myself out of a game that I did not know how to play. Then, and this was the hardest part, I had to train myself to deal with the reactions to what I had said. Rejection is never fun for anyone, but I keep hoping that there is some way to limit the extent of the damage. If the reactions feel cruel, shallow or beyond the pale standoffish, then I have to realize that these were not my people and that I was mistaken to be involved with them in the first place. It was probably a symptom of my own sickness that I still loved Alison. Was Lindy a symptom of my sickness, or a definite sign of recovery? The only way to find out was to level with her, and I was committed to doing just that tonight. There are moments in life when some kind of weird strength takes over, and you just know that the truth is the only thing that will do. We can’t afford to mess with lies, when we only have three weeks to express ourselves…Indeed we should never mess with lies at all, because what can seem like an extensive lifetime does not feel much longer than three weeks when the time comes to leave graciously… We decided to have dinner. There was a table, set French style with a tablecloth, right in front of the largest window, and it was overlooking the slate roofs above the Rue Guenegaud. As we were taking dishes and stuff out of the kitchen, we would touch slightly by accident as we would reach to get something from the counter. The power of the feeling scared me, and I wondered if she experienced the same thing. Yes, Ruthie, I am still wondering. After all these years… Lindy was sitting at the table across from me. We were talking about absolutely everything. Julien and Alison were of course recurring subjects of our analysis, but somehow, I think neither of us was bothered by the reference to the other person. It was almost as if bringing it all out into the open was somehow purging, cleansing, liberating. We were eating and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. There were times when Alison and I would get together and do things, but she would often start daydreaming, or scanning the crowd for somebody she was dying to see, probably Marie and her new girlfriend. Lindy and I were talking about others, yet we were present and relishing each other’s company, at least for the time being. We were going over everything. She was actually asking me what it was like to live one’s life identified as a lesbian.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… . We have fun together. What do you want to know? 104 . more than one. . I have. like a joke. At least. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. She looked at me with a funny little smile. and did not seem embarrassed at all.Yes.Ha. I said jokingly.Well.Well.No. I said it lightly. amazed at her beauty.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . Wyclife's arcane instructions. I’m not. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent.Are you kidding? . but that’s just me. She looked straight back at me. She looked down briefly. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. maybe. I mean it. 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. . she laughed. However. . smiling.What do you know about this. At least that's what I would have done… . from what you told me. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. I have been around the block a few times. And sex is good…at least it is for me… I could picture a 14 year old Bethany studying late at night trying to decipher Dr. he’s never said it in my presence.Oh. have you ever been with a man? .Well. but if outwardly you are quite stunning. I do. and softly chuckled. I looked back at her. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. this might not mean much to you. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. she asked..Yes. . that is of course very important… But Bethany. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. . since yesterday. he pays me nice compliments every now and then.

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

and it is strange to say. and started gathering the dishes. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. we went up the stairs. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. Wrapped in the towel. “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. Tonight has been so good.desire to kiss her. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However. The salt in the air is exhilarating. of an elegant. I broke the spell by making small talk. I got up from the table. more intoxicating than the alcohol. 106 . and she replied that it was going quite well. to find Bethany in my room. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. Minna’s guest bathroom has one of those clear glass and tile sparkling clean showers with a huge shower head that dispenses a waterfall of warmth…there are also about 15 different kinds of shower gels and whatever else. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. Instead. Bethany got up as well. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. and we cleared the table. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. My head is spinning a little from the wine. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. and was shamelessly taunting me. Dying is not an option. to our rooms. this is not quite the Caribbean. so a shower will be a good substitute. I luxuriate. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. wiping counters. putting away unused silverware. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. asking how school was going for her so far. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. Finally. I can still hear the ocean out there. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. filling up the dishwasher. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. as I am entranced by her. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. So. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

com Food for the mind 114 .feedbooks.www.

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