Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that’s the only way out of this.Oh. 64 . I was puzzled at myself. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. the evening might degenerate into a weather report… Linda started laughing and her eyes filled up with tears as she raised her glass of champagne. . He is a friend of Julien’s. she said. that’s just it. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. which did include a little bit of anxiety. even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look. and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre.You know.What do you mean Lindy? I said. . . come clean. She kept looking at me as she was drinking.Well. Why did I have these feelings. it sort of hurt my feelings. Come clean. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers.He calls you Lindy? . it’s funny. Also. and had not even introduced me to him. I like it better than Linda Louise. . and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be.Here’s to the weirdness of life. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. that’s Pierre. accentuating the nickname humorously but still quite rudely because I was irritated that in the first place she had said “My friends call me Lindy” as if I could never dream of being accepted amongst this very exclusive group. . designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. nothing. I don’t happen to know you very well.Yes. . I sighed and got a grip on myself. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives.. remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. you know. and that look set everything back on track for me.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. that’s how friends call me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had a new take on life. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. with such intensity. -J'arrive. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. let the chips fall where they may. her eyes were down. and effortlessly walked me through it. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". hopping into the van and waving.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. -Lindy. my taxi had arrived. I suddenly was exhausted. Hearing her voice on the recording again. I lit a cigarette. I finished the cigarette. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. j'arrive! She yelled back. And then. I realized how far we had come in those few days. 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. or I might not. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. conformity. I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. She was gone. I had never known such freedom. She waved back. Lindy had taken me by the hand. Had we missed the chance of a lifetime? But I knew that my life had completely changed already…I was a different person than I was three weeks ago…My body. I began… The van started honking. I had never loved like this. and had to sit down on my suitcase. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. I waved back. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. I had never lived like this. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. I might come back soon. 97 . but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. When we pulled apart. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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