Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. In a foreign language. here I am. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. Everything happens for a reason. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. Besides. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. where I belonged. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. which would also make me very uncomfortable. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. and if things did happen for me. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. What to do? What if I came back to the café. I’ve read all her books. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. what if? Chapter Two The train. I automatically assumed the woman was French. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . 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. for the first time since losing Alison.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. She is tres amusante!”. and it was all for a reason. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. By the way. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She found it again where she wanted to find it. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. was not about despair or death. because it lived in each of us. it was our own. albeit in a more restrained. Maybe it was the circumstances. The feeling was familiar. still with delight. To keep… The most important. At least. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. As it turned out. I do owe her respect and love for who she is and not who I sometimes imagine her to be. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. and we had opened that door for each other. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. When I look back at our brief moments together. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. and I found it deep within myself. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. and maybe it is better this way. and reminisce on occasion. It would last.that was there for me. it was like that for me. but I could see clearly at that moment. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . who was beautiful and brave. I see nothing but love. almost spiritual way. I do relish the memories of that night. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. To be honest. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. Food for the mind 114 .

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