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