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