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?!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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