This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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?!
She looked good in black and white though. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . that she needed the rest.Shit! Whatever…I said. I regularly gave them looks that could kill. as Simone frowned at the word. I still could not believe it! One whole week! .Today. and ran away to my room. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion. . but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. slightly above my head. I thought she was beautiful. I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years. The idea of having to contend with “La d’Alessi” for a whole week made me want to pull out all of my mother’s roses and trample them until there was no trace left of them.Why. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. . though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. however. This was a double whammy! .I was crestfallen. and always found them to be extremely boring in person. Mr. Some of the films. a producer who was much older than her. were I have to admit. like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca.You mother said she had business in France. I had never met her. and she wants be incognito. She had dark skin. She was married to Marco d’Alessi.When is she coming? . She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00. and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. but I had seen some of her movies. very blue eyes. Since my father was working in the film business. Right now. Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. I hated her.Oh right. especially from the point of view of a kid. I decided that I would not have 4 . and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s.
and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. turn it over to empty it and start all over again. He was skinny. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. whose nickname was of all things. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. making shopping lists. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. I ate my lunch distractedly. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer.anything to do with her. I liked them all. as possible. did not return my feelings. to the latest news. I hopped on the bike. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. So there. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. Ondine and Veronica. At 2:30. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. I was furious at my mother. He had the looks of an angel. This was probably what attracted me. and did not join us very often. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents. as he always yelled at me. Bambi. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. working hard. I made my escape. We made 5 . My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica. I had a crush on Bambi. and that always fell in front of his eyes. After all our exertions. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys. Once they are all dead. Let him or her go free. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. The canoe leaked. Then. 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. and off we went. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. and the manners of a bad boy. He had blond hair that was curly in places. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. we will know for sure who done it. It was me and “the girls”. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. who were brothers. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. and I loved to watch him.
I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some 6 .Yes. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter. other than mocking or yelling. we did not stay in hotels. . yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin. We had houses. and told her I would not be home for dinner. and went out into the patio for some breakfast. we were locals. I took a shower. She extended her hand to me. and biked home as slowly as I could. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies.Thanks. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village. luminous. that somehow pulled you in.Indeed. . but there was something about her demeanor. .You must be Christina…happy to meet you. but I did not say who it was. I’m Francesca. Obviously. as usual.OK. so I felt I had to respect that. good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents. They were blue.fun of the people we called tourists. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me. Francesca wanted to be incognito. grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on. but you are welcome! . Francesca d’Alessi was there. those who lived on the island all year round. Day Two The next day was a little cloudy. I was struck by the color of her eyes. I will! I was relieved not to have to face the awkward situation of whether I was welcome to eat with Mrs. Simone was not free to talk. I woke up late. As she looked up. Today was a good day. d’Alessi or not.Is she going to have dinner at home? . and sat down at the table.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. . I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest.Is she here? . . as close to midnight as I could. I shook her hand. buttering a slice of toasted bread. ignored the Italianization of my name. as I usually did on cloudy days. see you tomorrow morning! Good night.
So.Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. I aced the spelling dictation as usual. but sweated a little more for the math.I am meeting a friend at 10:30.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . she said. It’s too small. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help. 7 . but had recently become mine.No. and her English was definitely superior to my Italian.Mrs. and they let me join in.coffee. and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion.Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. even less obtained as a result. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. .So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone. I replied yes. When I arrived at Ondine’s. . I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. . and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys. she was doing summer homework with her tutor. and then she changed the subject. but Francesca started in. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. She spoke to me in English. . .Yes I do. to get to the harbor. and besides you cannot get lost on the island. actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? . You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question).Not far. . He will be here for two nights.
8 . 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. Do you want to come? .We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch. and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom. I had borrowed mine from Veronica.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame.She is supposed to be incognito. Bambi started the conversation.Oh. I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned. and did not want to go back to the house and look for it. Bambi had brought a fishing gun. and snorkel gear. on our bikes.Sure… And off we went. . She is actually staying at our house. I know. . we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. . Sometimes.Nothing…what are you doing today? . and sat on the beach. Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing. Besides. as I did not remember where mine was.Hey you guys! What are you up to? . I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back. Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day. and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues.And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine. I said sighing. but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident. . and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents. Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite. Fishing meant hunting down the fish. .Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning.Her boyfriend? Said Bambi.
This was no bird. repeated moaning. No one was there. of all people. that broke into a long. . the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip. The move broke my balance. I could still hear the bird sound. and the 9 . it was still early. like seagulls. I went back to my room. by refusing all the interviews. with long necks. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. little old you.I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. happy and comfortable. Her boyfriend came today. and picked up my mystery book. It was a soft. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. finally interested in the next clue.You better beware. Suddenly. prolonged moan. infinite ocean. intense.What? Come on! How could you. .She’s not a dyke. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. and below us was the blue. feeling lighter than a feather. said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… . Selena Hirschberg was the dark. his name is Tomaso. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden.Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents. men sized sneakers there.. Things were quite messy in there. The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. This had driven the paparazzi crazy. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins. I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together. cuff links here. but I was already dozing off. Argentinian star who had created a sensation at the last Cannes Festival after her film won the Palme d’Or. mysterious. I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds. intense with sweetness. I was hanging on to one of them. When I arrived back at the house. like blue herons. We were all soaring above white clouds. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. and I started falling. so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. know that?! . I woke up suddenly from my dream. At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed.
and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. I heard water running. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. Outside. I stayed awake for a while. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. He left the room. Safe in the warmth of my bed. 10 . Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. and realized it was going to get cold.What? I was wide awake by now.Christina. following their movements. No way could I sleep. There was silence for a while. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing.Come on. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it. I started sniffling. listening. Francesca greeted me. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided. I got up. It took a while. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. and Tomaso introduced himself. where I could not hear anything. Shivering. I crossed the patio and went back to my room. wake up! . Someone got up. realizing they had left the door open. . to the point where tears came to my eyes. When I did not respond. come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. with that racket going on. more voices. The light was turned off. an immense sadness came over me. whispering in Italian. They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me. the door opened slightly. My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night. the sound of laughter. punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast. Then.wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall. wearing nothing but shorts. and I got up and joined them in the patio. I could see stars and some clouds. I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. feigning sleepiness. . The loneliness was palpable. and the moaning started again. and went outside. His smile was disarming and contagious. Without warning. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly.
There I was. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. the sky. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. The day was gorgeous. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults. Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. This is how real people live. so engaging. he said. the wake. We had melon. the misty coast beyond. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. Francesca’s smiling face. said Tomaso. He was so energetic. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. bobbing by the wharf. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. At night. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. ready to take his turn with the mono ski. I said to myself. I will remember this always. The captain Mr. being part of them. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue. We had wine. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. dark green towel. on a large circle off the coast. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. a Riva speedboat. After I had spent some time enlightening 11 . finally sipping that Pastis. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me. Not a cloud in the sky. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. Tomaso looked like a Greek God. I thought. and I managed to get up on the skis. and there I was walking with them. or even with anyone. I declined the drink until later. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. This is how people eat it in Rome. on my way to spending the day with them. After I climbed back on the boat. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing.
Wrap yourself up with cellophane. I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. everyone!”. lifting her glass. I listened. Running across the living room. I had tears in my eyes. exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. and joined her. and listened over the crickets. We had to jump off the boat into the water. After we were done drying the floor. said Francesca. Eventually. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. . Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. I was laughing so hard. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. Once in my bed. and their conscious beings. said Francesca. 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. we got back into the boat. he doesn’t know what he’s missing. night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. . I listened into the night.them on his name and nickname.Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. and wait for him in his room. as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further. I fell sound asleep. heard some cats meowing. 12 .Well. . they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi. Day Four As I woke up. We waved goodbye. I knew the facts of life of course. and splashed around as we ran toward the house. After dinner. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom. I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. said Tomaso. Now that they were my friends. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. “Buona Notte. and Mr.
I just know she’s not a dyke. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. thinking about the cellophane.Oh. but I was also chuckling to myself. I still enjoyed looking at him. tan and fearless. Even Bambi. it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. As a matter of fact.I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer.Nothing. . I used to be visiting that beach. I would rather have died on the spot than shared anything I knew from the time I had spent with Francesca. had changed. We worked for a while. . I noticed that everything around me had changed. that’s all! 13 . looking at his back and the blond curls in the back of his head. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys. My confidence had also increased. . I was less in awe of the new chrome zippo. I threw some sand at him. I am the one who felt irritation. I waved back and grabbed my bike. She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. and I actually did better in math this time. the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils. don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. now I secretly owned the beach. Today was the 14th of July. because you do. a celebration in all of France. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in. Bastille Day. it was as if the world was coming together. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. I would suddenly be tall.You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. as his wisecracks about Francesca were beginning to get on my nerves. “the little deer”. We usually did not have fireworks on or near the island but some people took the boat to Hyeres to watch them. She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand. When she looked at me. Afterwards. After all. we had sandwiches for lunch.
and one of the sailors spotted her. Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church. will ya? . Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. . and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. was playing “Johnny B. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. Veronica. d’Alessi. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort. .Mrs. We could already hear the music from the terrace.You know me? And do I know you? . to thank her for taking such good care of us. said Bambi. I know you… . on the village square. that Francesca agreed to join them. of course. We had a great time. 14 . and took off his hat. Simone’s favorite and mine as well. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. and younger than her thirty something years. . rum “baba”. Good” and singing it in French. as I went over to join Ondine. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry. She took in the scene. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti.Lay off her. There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. obviously obsessed by Francesca. with electric guitars and accordions.My. Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us. She looked tan. Francesca had a way of drawing people out. Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. Some local band.And on we went… That night. over in the far corner. and smiled. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. He came over.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. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake. and no makeup whatsoever. aren’t we protective….Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. Couples and kids were dancing. Her presence was hard to ignore.
I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography. I said…still a little worried. She walked over to our table. So he finally stopped..What’s going on over there? . She nodded yes without answering. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy.Is everything OK? I asked. so we danced like zombies together. . you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me. I looked around for Francesca. But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. and it made me extremely proud and happy.Christine! You’re almost cool. and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s. and we all started dancing in a circle. I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling. and she was supposed to be incognito. I should have spotted the photographer and warned her. . but I had not been paying attention. and some of the sailors joined us as well. Francesca was a good dancer. and Francesca said “Oh. 15 . and seemed to be having a great time. sometimes. That’ll make a nice front page. . I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses. We all got up to dance with her. pick me up in his arms. and soon he and I.I guess it’s OK with her. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration. and some tourist amateur photographers. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. and twirl me around. Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. until he finally had to laugh.Yes I am. .Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors. if a little subdued and controlled. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends. I don’t think Francesca was counting on this. I got up to greet her. Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. After a while. executed in zombie like jerks.
sweetie… . I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water! 16 . as if at some grand event. carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow.At some point. As we said goodnight.But Mrs. She kissed me on my right cheek. and we could hardly see. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. la media luz de amor…la la la”. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much. . We got back to the house safe and sound.I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. At some point.I need to go home. . and we started walking home. she took my hand. no moon yet. “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. . and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango.Christina. so I could guide her on the trail. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. You just wait and see… She looked excited. and then was quiet all the way back. Myriads of stars were out. so I waved at my friends from afar.Buona notte. It was very dark and still warm. . 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. and twirled away back to her room. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes. I did not want to leave Francesca alone. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight. We could still hear the music coming from the square.
with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. un minuto per favore…”she said. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities. including my mystery book of course. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor. less than 30 feet long. I’ve done it before…I had done it. The Nostromo was small. and a striped sailor shirt. for the boat? I did indeed. some pots and pans. . says Francesca.Do you know where the “big bag” is. blankets. Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement. The big duffel bag is where we kept all that was needed for an overnight on board Nostromo. Francesca looked ready. wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. As I was finishing breakfast. and we were packing essentials for overnight. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then. Felipe agreed. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me 17 .Yes. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. She turned to me. but it was a beautiful. is this true? . 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. I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. sure. She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe.As I walked out. My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel. and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. my mother decided she hated the sea. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. but she added that if Mr. It lived in the harbor. my parents’ sailboat. I had a few occasions to go out on the boat. She was smiling and joking. . sheets. . Then. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. and taking me with her. and she instructed me to go and get it. seaworthy. After my parents separated. pillows. Felipe says you can handle working the jib. it looked like it was all set. it would be fine with her to take the Nostromo out.Christina.She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother. “Felipe.
Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. On the boat. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. and she 18 . almost alone with her. Then he helped us open the duffel. and we were off. I tried not to stare at her. I felt privileged. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. There were very few other boats around. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. She was a smooth. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. This put the breeze at our back. and nothing seemed to come easily. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. She was slender and strong. The shackles were rusty with salt. I poked around in the cabin for a while. in a tribute to her natural beauty. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. as I had not been sailing for a long time. and swam around with Francesca. waved at him. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. Once we passed the jetty. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. We dropped anchor. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. drinks in hand. with calm seas and a soft breeze. it was time to sail. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. and then I jumped from the bow. When she came up from diving. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. Francesca started the engine. he pulled out the plank. ideal for apprentice sailors. with skin the color of light rosewood. Fortunately. In the water. We did one clumsy port tack. but also intimidated to be out there. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. I was nervous. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. easy swimmer.everything step by step. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. Finally. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. It looked like a perfect day though. she was all fluidity and elegance. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land.
And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands. with all kinds of hand gestures. . . the icky ones. .The common wisdom is that acting is great.But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play. other than yourself. the scenery was breathtaking. .I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. Too many people… .And do they get to see it? I looked at her. the good ones. The sun was half way gone. and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds. she truly talked like an Italian. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting.No. but I have read the novel by Jules Verne. And all they see is love…the light of love. When she explained something. They are so into each other. they are not foreign to me. . have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? . and we sat on the deck side by side.Christina. Coming back up. though.No. Not to be on public display like that… . But it’s all right… 19 . that they miss the ray altogether.What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. In it.made Pastis for both of us. Does it bother you when people recognize you? . they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings. because you can be many different people. and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream. The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood.Well. Francesca was asking: .You seemed to be OK last night. But I always think my job is to act. She handed me my drink. I’ve had them all at one point or another. it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly. watching the sun go down. I’ve known them all. to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray. the desperate ones. It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time.
Do you…huh…do you love your husband? .And he doesn’t mind? . I have Tomaso. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind. She had made another batch of Italian pasta. She had mentioned her husband. I love Tomaso. I was the one who looked away first. to find that the sun was at the green ray point. Francesca looked genuinely moved.Do you still live in Naples? . but he is not the marrying kind. . but it was only something from a book.Well. He is a good friend and a great lover.My family lives near Naples.Yes he does. Just like in the story. I was determined to direct the conversation.Hmm…sometimes. while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove. . but we are not really physically in love with each other anymore. I wanted to know everything about Francesca. I love him very much. I was sailing alone when I was about your age… .How come you know how to sail like that? . . Then. My father and I would go sailing all the time. and I had a little bit of rose wine. people like me and my husband love each other. I do. So.What is it that makes someone a great lover? . She got up and decided to make dinner.I don’t know for sure. but most of the time we live in Malibu..Yes. California. .Does your husband know about Tomaso? . I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . .Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? .Che bello…what a beautiful story… We were quiet and looking into each other’s eyes all of a sudden. let me see… 20 . and it opened the door to more important questions. but no green ray was showing up.No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then.
Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . You are not left alone out there. I am. I was still on the attack.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it. make love with Selena and all that stuff? . She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me.I don’t know. but I appreciated her effort.Well.Bambi says you sleep with her. .Yes. I said. it feels very good…but I think in the long run.You love a lot of people. like. so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me. fiery.Yes.Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive. don’t you think? .What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question. And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! . . it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew. .Do you.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with.You’re in love with Selena? . She is beautiful.Well. That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her. Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. . believe me. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you. she is…too good maybe. I was remaining silent. You would love her too… . and Indian. 21 . .What about Selena Hirschberg? .She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! . trying to wrap my mind around all of this. . you know. I do. but I think he read it somewhere. Anytime I can. if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are.Yes. .Is that good or bad? . . I’m in love with Selena. however.
I was floating too. my heart is full…but there is always room for more. .Let’s go for a swim! .Yes sweetheart. I thought…I’ve got to do it. Out from behind the cove. Cappella. and floated on our backs looking at the stars. the Big Bear. Betelgeuse. Vega de la Lyre. .Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . I took off all my clothes as well. The water felt incredibly warm. Rigel. and the stars began to fade. Francesca was listening intensely. . she proceeded to take off all her clothes. Orion. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves. this was the life…indeed… 22 . Oh.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell. you know. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid.Tell me more… Sirius.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting. Goldilocks… I was making them up. So. I could see Francesca floating on her back. There I was. On saying this. that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. It all seemed like a dream. all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. We swam a little far from the boat. Arcturus. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this. I do.Yes now! Come on. hardly making a splash.. the Little Bear. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm. at least some of them… I started naming them. . . Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters.Yes. I could not see her very well. I could hear night birds flapping their wings. She laughed. she suddenly got up. looking at the sky. . and to dive head first from the boat into the night. and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual. but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. the Medium Bear. There were so many stars. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. I was saying the names in French. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me.
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 lay down for a long time. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. 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. I was not a lesbian. and walked over to where I could look at the little coves on the South side of the island. a dyke. Ah. I would much rather stay with you. I was pedaling with a vengeance. and maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat. This was my last evening with Francesca. her eyes. I loved Francesca. I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys. . he is on the list to finance my next film. She would have taken my hand.. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. He came to the island on the Orion every now and then. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. I loved the look of her skin. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. We would have talked about all kinds of adult things. I was distressed. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there. her hair. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion. I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper. a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. There we had 26 . The production company would love for me to give him a little push. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. mainly about love. and almost made it to my favorite spot. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. as Bambi would say.Sweetie. that was Stavros Spanodakis. There we had been. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. and I could still feel her lips on mine. . and how I had hoped she would never pull away. carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked.Ah. but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. I brushed off the pine needles. without having to walk the bike. the Greek billionaire. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. I slept for a while. good…should be fun.You know Christina. and I was not even truly an adult.
Oh. all right. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Simone and I had dinner together. After dinner. . There we had truly loved each other. .La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. Instead. I am purser for Mr. in a white evening gown that brought out her tan. Spanodakis. the phone rang. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. But I could see there was light on the yacht. 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. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner. She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo. I saw Francesca.Yes? . and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. and turned and waved at Demosthenes. When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor.spent the night together. At the gate to the pier. At around eleven. standing by the golf cart. I was sure of it. I could not really see anything and I went back home. and gold sandals. Next to her was Demosthenes. she will be there right away! I did not have to tell Christina to jump on the bicycle and ride like the wind to the harbor. Simone went to her little bungalow. on foot. She walked toward me. as I got off the bike and we started toward home. No one can take this back. with me walking 27 . possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca. a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle. I will let her know. I said yes. I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. I could not help but smile… . The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near. It could be my mother.Allo? This is Demosthenes.
No. But she was still in charge.So. My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone. The first thing she did was take off her shoes.How do I know when something is really good? 28 .Yes. . I am very thirsty. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness. I reached for her hand across the table. She held mine in return. and poured her a nice tall glass. .It was good. and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more. Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier.Christina! No. a red crystal one with cut designs. So we sat in the kitchen. how was it? I asked.Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. what do you think!? . I wanted to take care of her. then follow it. I can say no. do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? . .Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. back to the house. Follow it all the way and don’t look back. please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked. in mock annoyance. .Sweetheart.Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time. I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie. . not really wanting to know… . This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school. . .the bike. I got some ice water from the refrigerator. of course not.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. I chose the best glass for Francesca. You can’t go wrong. It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… .Christina. She was giving me no details. If it does. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide. . and I was feeling possessive. as a matter of fact he did. But you see.
I said. and I could imagine her. She went into her room and closed the door. though you don’t always know it at first. But what 29 . that I had to breathe in and out. . she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace.. and it will keep. I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. As we were walking toward our rooms.You know it. and every sensation seemed amplified. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. Tesoro. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep. it feels good. but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good. as she gently released me. It never goes away. trying to understand what she was saying. She finished her glass and got up. OK? She waited for my answer. The sensation was so strange and so powerful. .I will miss you too. When I joined them. a strange energy was running through me. you can take it with you anywhere. just below the ear. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. I was looking at her.OK. My heart was light. come on sweetie. I went out into the patio. I did too. trying to never forget. it was time to go to bed. I could hear the night crickets. almost in a gasp. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. it sticks to you. . Sleep was entirely out of the question. my angel.Oh my…said Francesca. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me. too fast. I was not sad anymore. but I knew she was there. . You do something really good. I was holding her very tight. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. You drink too much. I wanted this being that I had become today.I will miss you. because it stays with you. the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. She kissed my neck. to remain within me forever. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room.
Francesca was very gracious as usual. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago. and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. cameras in hand. I helped load her bags in the back. When they passed the jetty. Next to them. and then I will fly to Los Angeles. and whispered in my ear. 30 . I saw Bambi. but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . . the varnished wood. 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. so were Ondine. but I knew that it had turned me upside down. it rose up like a rearing horse. I did not quite know what the adventure was. I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. closest to the speedboat. I was the last one. Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva. the postman. then Paris. while she sat next to the driver in front. and off they went. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap.Oh. and I could swear I saw him blushing. The reporter from Nice-Matin was there. the chrome step.Where are you going now? . and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town. disappearing behind its own wake. Jean-Remy and their parents. She went to my friends.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. and kissed them all on both cheeks. She gave me a hug. Mr. the one policeman of the island. When we parked by the wharf. she waved at the crowd. the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. Then she came to me. At 10:30. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile. when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. warmer to my heart than a thousand suns. after she kissed him. . Veronica and their parents. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. With Bambi. I looked at the speedboat. to Toulon. it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca.Well.
I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia. In St. really? The love scenes were light and tasteful.No one…no one told me. We went dancing until dawn. and we all went to see it. but was happy to be able to close the house. I read it somewhere. I asked him.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . and my eyes were stinging. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. Tropez.It means “I love you”. That’s what it means. I just want to know what it means… . . gossiped and drove around with the older kids. When my mother called. and shook his finger at me. I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me. I kept imagining Francesca instead of 31 . How good was she. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre. with long black hair and very intense black eyes. and decided that I needed a change of pace. I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed. Simone was sad to see me go. When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. When no one was around to distract me. Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. walk with her. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed.Felipe. to being with my friends. But I was determined not to cry. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. favoring swimming and walking alone.I had a big lump in my throat. Selena was indeed very beautiful. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her. we sat on the crowded beaches. I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. Tropez. I was in a trance. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. talk to her. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg. I could swim with her. One night. I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. She agreed. . go home and join her son in Vendee.
and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. and since I never heard from her. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. including my mother who finally came back. They were separated and they had no reason to keep them.the male protagonist. I don’t really remember… Finally. My mother was not very forthcoming. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. Every once in a while. the summer wound down. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. or maybe calling her. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. just as I had escaped the island for St. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. 32 . 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. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. or a famous cop. He himself also lived in Rome. This part of my life was over. and we all returned to Paris. and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. When you love someone who is in the public eye. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. Yet. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. though I very seldom spoke to him. However. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer. I went back to school. And so I did. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. read about her. and often saw her on television. There. I thought of writing to Francesca. Tropez two years before. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. Many times. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. Guillaume. I grew shy about contacting her. I went to see all her movies. or a saint.
I went to the hotel. and said that of course we would attend. I had friends. the phone rang. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. I took a quick shower. I did not know what to expect or what to think. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. and 33 . I was secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother. I wanted to look as good as possible. After all these years. she said. put on my dress. 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.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. I picked it up. I picked up my ticket at the will call. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris.Sorry. Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. and checked in. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. I was flabbergasted. to put it mildly. I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. but I hate the Festival. and to please thank Francesca for us. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. I did not have time to enjoy the room. but the task had seemed daunting. I was surprised and excited. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. and if so. their conversations and their sexual games. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. I was eighteen years old. except maybe books and films. and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. I enjoyed the drive. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes. . I left early in the morning. on the day of the screening. I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. I could not believe it. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. as it was already time to go to the screening. One morning in May. I had flirted. She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. all by myself.
to have come all this way to honor her. and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. after the screening. I was only interested in one of them. I was happy to be there. and I kept bumping into people. Finally. only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. everything. This was my first time at Cannes. especially since she had left Hollywood. I got to 34 . but none of them would ever recognize me. The director came to take a bow. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. some of them I had met before. and she gave me the suite number. She was surrounded with people and photographers. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. I had a brief moment of guilt. some woman came over to me. My parents had gone often. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd. the drive. I had to cross to the beach side. designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. the dress. She always drew people to her. back then… As the end credits rolled. and she was good. Suddenly. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. That was fine with me. 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. Francesca was on screen most of the time. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. as she walked toward the stage. thinking of all she had given me. I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. There were no love scenes. The scene inside was exciting. but had never brought me with them. It was a great success. the crowd roared and applauded. She saw me. The film was harsh and violent. it was all worthwhile. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. She was very popular in France. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty. and how little I had given her in return. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. and walking on the Croisette. and then I saw her.
Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. He looked at me and we both laughed. I knocked on the door. look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. They were going to distribute the film. He sat next to me on the couch. She caressed my cheek briefly.Oliver. and we started talking about the film. She asked me if I felt good about it. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful.Christina! Oh. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. with straight longish brown hair. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together. and we had a few private minutes to talk. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything. dressed in a tuxedo. I found him very attractive. she called…come say hello to my Christina. She gave me a hug. but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human. Oliver. and did not offer any more details. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. and asked me if how I knew Francesca. At some point. She had to move into the next room. .the hotel. He held out his hand. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room. and our hands touched. and various appetizing canapes. and a charming manner. carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne.Sorry. about California. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. Dio mio.You must be Christina! He said… I feel like I know you already! Come on in…I am Marco d’Alessi. but he made me feel at ease and welcome. and then took my hand. She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older. He was extremely handsome. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. and found the suite without getting lost. and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. We both reached out for the same one. His name was Oliver Schneider. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. surrounded by people holding champagne flutes. and an elegant older man opened it. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. . At the second glass of 35 . and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood. . . I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes.
and gently stroke my arm. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people. We were reclining on the couch. I said yes.Come with me to my hotel. in a convertible Bentley. smile. and we 36 . I kissed him back. He opened it. I was a little bit nervous. He said that Francesca was very tired. I felt so glamorous and grown up. We arrived at Eden Roc. on this most anticipated adventure. right by the water. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. then turned away to go back to the living room. Isn’t it great? It was. little old me.Nah. and went down to the lobby with Oliver. and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview. Most people had left. of course not. and I could not imagine better circumstances. I knew he was wrong. . He took his key and we went down to his room. You’ll see. . but I took it in all the same. I wanted it to happen. he said. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. Ten minutes later.champagne I was beginning to feel good. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. I said I would be there. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. and looking into each other’s eyes. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. We got up and went out on the terrace to look at the row of palm trees and the ocean sparkling in the moonlight. the breeze was cool but not cold. he would turn to me. He came to us. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. I grabbed my jacket. This dashing young man was taking me. I was looking at him as he was driving. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. and said goodnight.Is this your car? . But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. and I did not see Francesca. he said to me. I rented it…the company pays for it. and he kissed me very lightly. Every now and then. It was a suite. Everything was perfect. We were standing very close to each other. “You are so sophisticated!”.
at the critical moment. I thought. whatever that was. Oliver was kind and gentle. he said. There was enough light from the hotel above to see that there were rock steps going into the water. I was getting really cold. I got up. The pain was not too bad. but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. He undid my dress. There were no stars. But then. and I went down. Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. and went outside. he got up and went into the bathroom. as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries.Don’t worry…I will be careful. Afterwards.No. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me. . I went back to the room. and then he kissed me. he said. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. 37 . which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight.Are you taking birth control? He asked. I felt sticky and afraid to move. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it. . I am not. because I wanted to see everything. we drank. The water was cold. it had been very enjoyable. I was shivering in the water. So this was what made the world go round. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat. and then turned off the light as he undressed and I took off my underwear. . I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position. turned away from me. . and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. I was sorry that the lights were out. and the clouds were attacking the moon. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. At first. Oh well. “You have beautiful shoulders”.Here’s to us. Our glasses clinked for the toast. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep.went out on the deck. I was for a time. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. He got back into bed. exciting sensation. know everything and be fully present. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air. I felt numb and detached. I started drifting off and isolating myself.
and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. We exchanged phone numbers.Oliver was still asleep. and ran hot water all over myself. and rushed to my room. 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. 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. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. and all kinds of trivial questions. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. I picked it up. I know it is early. He noticed my expression of dismay. when he was returning to California. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. I led the conversation. I picked up my key. He did not argue very much. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. Oliver came out smiling and handsome. under the covers. and I did not linger. and off we went. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. and put on my travelling clothes. So he took me to the Martinez. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. . When I woke up to the sound of the shower. but my mind was already with Francesca. 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. this is Francesca. asking him where he was going. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. I wanted to hide it from her. dressed in tennis whites. This morning. and we need to be at the 38 . it was already eight o’clock. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. I went into the bathroom. I took a shower. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. It was five minutes to nine. so we left the top up. The sky was overcast. last night.
to not have to wait for the red lights. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. The tinted glass was too dark. and she disappeared behind it. I looked over to the other side. Christina…but we need to go. as now my cheek was right against hers. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. We can’t afford to miss this plane. I crossed over on the beach side.Ciao Christina! . and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. sweetie…go for the good life. Finally. I was relieved. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. once at the sign. The words came out of me on their own. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down.airport at 9:30. . Francesca was calm as usual. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. I must have grown. Francesca spotted me immediately. Oh my God! I had missed them…It was 9:05…Maybe there was still a chance…I rushed down the stairs without waiting for the elevator. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. There. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. then glided on toward Nice.Sorry Francesca. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. I was holding her very tight.Don’t be sad.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca. I could not see inside. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. but rushed and fell into her arms. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. way out there on the Croisette. out of breath and disheveled. Marco was waving at me from the other side. . I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. Please come. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. uncontrolled. . The window started going up. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it.
looking despondent. Why was I so eager to lose my virginity that night of all nights? Why did I insist on changing at the Martinez. It was during a week of finals for me in California. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. I found solace in playing music and singing. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use.with each other. As it turns out. driving to school. Besides. after she had invited me. My mother did not attend. with some other family members that I did not know. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. I finished school eventually. I was so stunned. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. I did not attend. taller. full of regret and unanswered questions. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. I guess. way back then. but a real woman. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. I had to find out her address. But I did not do it of course. I could swear in one of the newscasts. but did not see him. I was just alone. thus reducing to one minute what was to be my very last encounter with Francesca? Why didn’t I move Heaven and Earth to try to get her address or telephone numbers during those four years? Why the hell did she have to go to Ostia that night? There was a memorial service. I don’t think they would have been very supportive. I was in the middle of finals. and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. now that I was not only older. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio. I think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. a languid feeling would come 40 . And if so. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. and now. I did not have my passport with me. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. I saw Marco. Francesca was their friend. I looked for Tomaso. aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. Sometimes. I stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. I hated taking birth control pills. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. then I would insist that we do something about it. I was in my car. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. I had to return the car to my mother. and not mine.
-Tell me that you love me… . they are real places where you can go and spend all day. or cool. no. where I was born. athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. amore. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. There is no implication of the place being special. in the chic part of Silicon Valley. It was a beautiful sunny day. even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. across from Le Bon Marche department store. or read a book. In California where I live. . perfect. Here in Paris.No. on that warm day in June. and an eventual movie. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. with friends or alone. tell me life is good. order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. You can sit on the terrace and people watch. to visit family and old friends. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. In my case. way back then… Part 2: MODERATO All Dharma is a dream… Tibetan Proverb Chapter One Cafes are genuinely important to the quality of life in Paris. and I would imagine our dialog… . there are cafes.Life is good. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. tell me in Italian! .over me to assuage my loneliness.Francesca. 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 even write one if so inclined. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 .I do…I love you. . I had come to Paris. or inhospitable for any reason. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. Francesca would be there with me.
Besides. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. started interfering with my side of the conversation. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. weathering flashes of interest. insidious. men or whooping cranes. I knew a lot about them. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. show or otherwise. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times.the crowds in Hollywood. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. or even in San Francisco. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. and Marie liked it. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. There were pigeons everywhere. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. like grey fruit ready to be picked. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. whether it is between women. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. 42 . Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. After she left me. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. and the thought of her. I don’t believe they were really interested either. wavering.
I felt some relief. here it was again. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace. I had seen the movie long time ago. Next to us. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. and they could do no wrong. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. Her expression was soft and bright. across from the doorway. it made her face look exotic. She sat down. as if during an intermission. The terrace was fairly empty. 43 . I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. the woman looked remotely like Marie. she was smiling while looking in my direction. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. I started telling the story. and she had beautiful. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. unlike Marie. She came back very soon. and the audience hates it too. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. as if I was on stage. She was drinking a café-crème. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. and how I had met her. at the terrace of the Babylone. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. She looked at me very briefly. The woman was thin. make it wild and funny. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. and even though it was not really elegant. huge green eyes. George and Francine were in stitches. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. The anecdotes kept pouring in. facing the rounded sidewalk. and pursued the conversation. Marie had a straight Greek nose. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. Unbelievably. I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. She did not look like Marie in the least after all. He was asking me questions about a common friend. put on her Ray Bans. He hates it. We were sitting at the narrow end of it. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. and to be present in the conversation. Her book was still there. which I did with some success. a woman was sitting. She got up and went inside. She was reading a book. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”.I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. willing my thoughts away from California and back here. I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something.
in this café. nuns. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. There I was right here in the land of my youth. I thought. This is ridiculous. and shady characters. Then before I even knew it. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. beige oversize canvas handbag. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. grey sweater. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out. But that was precisely what attracted me. and the woman this time did not look up. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. I took in the white collar. and white tennis shoes. I am in love. ready to 44 . secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. We came back. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. George and Francine were getting ready to leave. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. and my mind was racing all over the place. we were gone. Here. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. But the train was prompt and ready. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. tight black pants. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. old people. Just like that. their favorite mode of transportation. as if in a dream. and I rushed into the station. The insane.My heart started pounding. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball. in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. in Paris. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. I got up too. We said goodbye again. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. that I would have these feelings here. I hopped on.
But still…If the woman was in any way interested. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. 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 to do? What if I came back to the café. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. I’ve read all her books. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. By the way. and it was all for a reason. She is tres amusante!”. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. and if things did happen for me. for the first time since losing Alison. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. here I am. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. Everything happens for a reason. I automatically assumed the woman was French. what if? Chapter Two The train. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. where I belonged. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. Besides. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. In a foreign language. which would also make me very uncomfortable.
If I go fast. and that is good. What do I do now? The waiter comes. she will be gone. and said: . I’ll have a café crème. She still has not looked up. If I go slowly. I can go twice as fast. it is dark. Up. Up the stairs…No.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. It smells bad. and I bought the band where I live. -No. In French as I feared. I said in English also. I sort of designed it. I sit down at the terrace. I see the waiter bringing stuff. and she is reading the book. with an empty café crème in front of her.running. God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. if I wait any longer.J’aime votre montre. 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. It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… .Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. in California. but she spoke to me! . tennis or not. She is still there. s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. The escalator. but I have lived there for twenty years. I come back up. She does not look up. Downstairs. mind you. . but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before.Well. . here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. at the same table where I was with George and Francine. asking me what I want. 46 .Quatre heures dix. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch. where does it come from? . Ten past four. I walk past her and go inside the café. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it. I’ll run into George and Francine.Excusez moi… She spoke to me. pretending to make a phone call. out into the sunlight. Someone gave me the face as a present. I’m not. up. she can leave anytime. but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps. but walking very fast. and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. He does not seem to recognize me. I was all wrong. I said in French. Besides.
and I was not nervous anymore. yes? . Her smile was absolutely devastating.. 47 . I am one. Linda said. This man and this woman meet in a café.Well. -Hi Christine. . and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home. an easy. let alone working with the ones we love…She too. I explained to her my situation. at the beginning of June. I introduce myself to her. with no warning. she was from New York. And then it came. no calculation. The conversation flowed very easily.Oh. She took off her glasses and put down her book. She did not look like Marie at all. she said. She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. Right now. She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. My name is Linda. and it gave her a visa. cheerful laugh. mind you. seemed to have trouble swallowing. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with. fast and easy. my failed music career. I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. warm and maybe a little sad. it is very short. no preparation. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. She was beautiful. she said. Her name was Linda. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. and whom I still cared about a great deal. I’m glad to meet you. this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately. and it’s the end. We laughed together. my work at the theatres. I am from New York. but it paid well. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends. I said: -Oh. nothing happens. -Linda. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. I said in pure American ritual. there was a lull in the programming. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time. I said. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever.You speak French beautifully.
gloriously. or the woman who managed to be proven right. open it up to the air. and come out of it all happier. and shook her head. and I felt so totally comfortable that I didn’t even resent the fact that the conversation started rolling on safer subjects. and said: -If that’s OK. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. So. the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. I had come back to the café. Courage. But. simply. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. these days. how. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. I looked at my mountain watch again. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. -Not really. The street.Linda smiled. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. and who paid for what. like movies and books. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. 48 . I was supposed to go visit a friend. -Were you going alone? -Yes. as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. and still not die a horrible death in the end. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine. Here I was. I wanted to understand everything. how he created the character of Ripley. Four forty five. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. strong and true. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. define it. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. women. I had been brave. wiser. it’s all the same. . about Ridley Scott. intelligence. I’d like to go with you. but I have no real recollection as to when. The good part was that I had been open with her. I said it half heartedly. and kinder. and how I liked most of his films. and maybe I had just made a new friend.
It’s no fun. Sometimes. -Oh. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. The details were slim. but that the ground floor was probably a safe bet! It took all my energy to keep connected with the environment enough to pay for the tickets and reach our seats. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. She smiled. I said that would be quite all right. and we went all the time. When the lights dim in a theatre. -Not really. I said. there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. and now he is with her. I said. Where did the train tracks use to be? I said I had no idea. it’s simple. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends.I was taken aback by the request. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. -I know the feeling. I loved going to movies with Alison. -What happened with your boyfriend. I did not feel nervous. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going 49 . she said. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation. and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. because I did not have any expectations. but it’s very recent. My host was very sweet. and the film itself was about to start. and I might as well find out the details. Once we were seated. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. the houselights went down. and things are not yet very clear between us. It was very exciting. As I spoke. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. it was better than nothing. then he met this Italian model. Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. and I felt like visiting royalty. I asked. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. 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. Julien and I were together for two years. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. If we could be friends.
It was very sad. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples. it’s late. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. Thank you very much for letting me come along. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone. including love. and I’m already very late. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. but somehow exhilarating and empowering. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. she grabbed my wrist. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. nice meeting you too. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. It was only to look at my watch. you know” I did not have the time to answer. I have to run. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them. The whole experience was strange. turned around. At the end of the film. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. and while the plot was progressing. As we walked out into the still sunny street. in a strange sort of way.to movies again after she and Marie broke up. -Oops. Equally seriously.I loved it. because she stopped. but I always kept it in check. I felt like I knew her. and where anything was possible including friendship. The film was good. -Well. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any 50 . and I held a stiff position most of the time so our legs would not touch and I could maintain an excruciating formal distance. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. I turned to her and thanked her too. violent at times. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. and rushed down into the Metro. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. The temptation was not far. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. Linda seemed to react. but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the screen. She shook my hand formally. and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . I’m having dinner with a friend. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. and our cheeks would touch.
and it’s the end. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. it’s on theirs too!”. Now. I did not know her last name. But in a way also. How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. doesn’t appreciate you. In a way. to keep my attention on anything. and very silently. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. and not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. let them go. then she would have wanted to. and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. I always found this to be quite true. She would listen to me very patiently. honey. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. for once. They meet. But these days. I had vanquished my own passivity. but it was too late. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. and anything 51 . nor exactly where she lived. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. How could I have lost her so soon! Chapter Three It was very difficult at home. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. just to have someone to go to the movies with.plans. except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. stupidly. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. So I would talk to her and try to make her see how valuable our relationship was. cruelty or indifference. I was. it felt to me that I could be one of these. nothing happens. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. 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.
I could go lurking there until she showed up. and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. Here’s to you. Then. I had an idea. I always felt then. Bad timing. Be remote. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. Well. It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. the next day. and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. and we had gone to a movie together. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing. 52 . and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow. unattainable. maybe it was time for good timing now. No big deal. and you will have everything. What to do? And suddenly. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. 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. because I was open about my potential availability. When Marie left her. and that was why I liked her so much. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. and that I was bound to lose every time. Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. you know. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. pleasure. you said. Above all else. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. No. Yet my feelings were so strong. If there was some truth to all this. Yes. she would contradict her previous statements. I could see her face. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. Marie-like nose and all. I can still fall in love. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. she would be there. it was time for practical considerations. and therefore undesirable. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”.
It would give me something to do in the afternoons. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. in a nondescript café. risked. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. I kept trying to sleep. Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. Maybe that was what life was all about. Stop. 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 look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. and in between movies. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. Stop that too…One day. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. Ah! But here I go again. and the way I felt now. Then. Something is going on there. I’m not so hard to please after all. Sleep. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. 53 . Yet there were crazy things that could be done. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. “Thelma and Louise”. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. and not take any risks. uncertainty. I am crazy. rebellious aura to it. I could never forget it. Linda…I don’t even know Linda. that gave you some power even though you had none. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. and every time I closed my eyes. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. which I guess soothed me a little. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. There is nothing going on there.Or maybe she would not be there. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. What fun. Don’t think about Alison. 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. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. “Village of the Damned”. and it still had that liberating. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together.
to have breakfast with my mother. She was not there. I started feeling better. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. let’s go up and see. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. Too early. My watch. She will tell you to get lost and you will. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. I went in. Friends were the only solid value these days. Marguerite Duras. It was cloudy today. pretending again to make a phone call. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. different. and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. it was three thirty. but not on the shelf. Worried about parking. Besides. It was there all right. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. 54 . Ha ha. Create something different with life. Brick walls were not necessary. wait. and everything was going to be OK. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. It’s time. her loss! I will never see Linda again. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. I walked up the stairs. spy at the TV station. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. do it all. and stared at everybody. Yes. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. Look up the listings. look stupid and not know what to do with myself. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. Maybe rain was in the air this time. Alison does not want me. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. Francoise had advised me to go. It took forever to reach the bookstore. go and go to the Babylone. something unique and wild.I woke up very early. through the store almost running. I had the car today. Maybe he knew her. big deal. I must have slept for three hours all and all. I went down to the telephone. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. What else is there in the world than unique. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. Maybe she was inside. Out on the street. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. I’ll do what I can. At least you tried. that would be fun. I went upstairs. and came back down to call a friend. Pocket books? Yes. Parking was going to be a pain. OK. OK. Oh well. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. So here I was. this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. it was worth it. No Linda. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. Besides. Maybe she was a regular. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. lurk Rue de Nevers. My mountain watch. Five past four.
but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. be real. Like that. I went to a friend’s house for dinner. have lunch with some members of my family. even though I did not quite understand it. The next morning. I went and enjoyed the film. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. Linda. dejected. Let’s waste some more time. just in case. I think from the inside of the café. careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. all these figments of my fertile imagination. I did not even look at anything. It seemed forlorn and deserted. I looked at my watch: four thirty. furious at her. That’s far enough. on your right. a fool all the way. I cannot wait any longer. I had my day organized in such a way. Quarter to five. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. That’s that. I was. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. I have too much to do. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. and this time. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. I slept better than the night before. pretending that I was someone else than I was. since I was so tired. Come on. I had seen everything. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. Here’s a bookstore. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. I had parked it on the street. I was going to be a normal person. here it is second shelf from bottom. I had the car again. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. Alison. I bought the book. drove the car out. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: “So you are a regular here after all!” I 55 . and schedules. a once in a lifetime spot. theatres. walking in that general direction. It was too late. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. however. The car was the other way. and sat at the terrace. and I ordered a sparkling water. and had a good time. and decided to go to the café. and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. The irony was just perfect now. and just start reading it. No one was there. Here it is again. I checked the Pariscope for films. I will not come back tomorrow. but what the hell. I went back down into the parking lot. Twenty past four.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. Forget it. at everything. It was all a ridiculous fantasy. a fool with Linda. too late to go to the Babylone. The waiter came.
all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say. I’ll be here! She got up. Her eyes were made of cool green. and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. intelligent. Linda said as she sat down next to me. but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half. Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating. It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the 56 . Now is the time to enjoy things. as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag. I won’t stand in the way.Well. “What time is it?”. She looked great. I felt so incredibly strong. I was hoping to find you again. I knew I had bought it for a reason. .No problem. Are you a regular here? . soft.See you then! She was gone. interesting and interested. Yet here she was. What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling.No. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. . but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”.Well. and touched my arm gently. maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! . the universe.I’ll tell you what. . looking straight into my eyes. exciting. A joke… What a joke. as a matter of fact. .Five o’clock. lugging that huge bag. I have to meet someone for work now. Life is really starting now.Yes. not really. I am. Her smile hit me again. she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. This is what was meant to happen. and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. . I laughed. soothing. . I turned around. everything fell into place. Here it was! It was late. She laughed. with no shirt collar underneath. I did not know how to get in touch with you.was too shocked to answer anything at all. and it is happening. Her manner of approach was not very varied. I had forgotten their power. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. it was like the world. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up.
in some strange way. God. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. I wonder why Linda was reading it. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. I liked it. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . that woman is obscure. I won’t disappoint you. and if she was. But what if. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. I was happy to see that all and all. and that it was wrong. 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. 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. 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. Not everything should be explainable anyway. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. but no one can really explain to you what they are. to think that one could replace the other. I should know.present. like everything else is good in small quantities. but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. I said to the preciousness of the moment. The narrative was ominous. but it won a major award. and tried very hard not to think for a while. dead wrong. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. Alcohol. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. I guess that’s possible.
Linda is coming back soon. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. ten if you really nurse it. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. We’ve all got bad luck. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. 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.“Moderato Cantabile”. before I even had the time to really worry… . I did! What a relief. and the people were walking out of the Bon Marche with bags and packages of all kinds. forget it. I was starting to feel a little bored. Ah. suddenly she was back. The pigeons seemed to have calmed down. Five minutes. The brick wall was in place. what does one do? Light a cigarette. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me. and ask me to dinner out of the blue. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me.everything. I did not hate it. It’s OK.I was curious to read what you were reading. nothing ever works for us. . Everything seemed to come very easily around her. Should I prepare for good things. not thirsty. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great. just in case I had to leave fast. so I don’t have to wonder anymore. It may seem like a long time now. She smiled as if she understood. and I was careful to pay right away. she’s beautiful. But when you get to be forty. Somehow. 58 . I was not hungry. heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. Here’s the waiter. I’m sure. that’s how long it takes. but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. and then. But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. with battlements and all. getting slightly crazy. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. especially in love. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. money and fame. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating. I was rambling on and on. 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. everyone is all of a sudden always younger than you. What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight.
Ricard or Pernod. I had looked at her. for the first time since we had met. . without water or ice. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. 59 . Alison…Alison.Where shall we go? It was early still. She heartily agreed and we went inside. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy. at some point during my adolescence. Pastis . and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. The thought of going now seemed impossible to me. but this was different. This woman loves me and I love her. feel somewhat connected. We needed something to link us together. It used to be in vogue. . I was far from hungry. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up. We had done pretty well going to the movies. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule. . I felt shy. I was nervous. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun. Tailor made. 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.It is still early. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. Linda laughed. and we had a nice conversation about these drinks. light. diluted in water is refreshing. I had something to lose. made from various plants including artichokes. the liquor of oblivion. This is life. Her face was soft and gentle. the bastard sons of absinth. but never explained by schoolteachers. She was sitting on her haunches. listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. and I remember forcing myself to like it. and you can make it just the right strength. I had thought.. Linda was looking at me in a strange way. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again. I think I’ll have a Pastis. Pastis . all of a sudden. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant. nothing.Oh. The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. I offered.What’s going on? I lied.
and one silver ring on the right hand. with long.It looked like mud. I said she could never have a Fernet ever. I was amazed at the effect she had on me. everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. and I had nothing on her. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles. everything was always new and exciting. I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. Alison was home. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye. poems. where is home now? Linda was explaining something. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it. describing it all with great hand gestures. I can only kiss your shadow. Hell. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. . because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. Her hands were beautiful. 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. or will she send me a note ten years from now. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. . Everything was just fine. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. and still live a perfectly happy life. It was getting dark. as far as I knew. smiling. and she kept pushing it back. I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. at least in my thoughts. Yet. daring and devastatingly original. “As the room is softly fading. Work was not really work.So. I worked for ten hours in a row. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship. saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. thin fingers. It felt great to watch her do that. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. I’m glad I had some time today. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. I said. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. I was letting myself stare at her. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence. Songs. In the open. trimmed nails. Home…I guess California was home to me now. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends.I was so busy yesterday. She was looking up. tell me more about yourself… 60 .
who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her. I felt better than I had in years about them. It did not really matter to us whose family had money. and religions are full of them. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… . the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless.No. That’s the fun part.Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette. as in St. I need the other person to be a part of it too. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. where they came from.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin. I learned bits of trivia about her. On and on we went. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. as if anything we shared 61 . not at all. For some reason at first. So. and she learned some about me. patron saint of transportation. as she asked me about my parents.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ. We paid and got up.Oh. and her last name was Christoforos. give me some clue… .Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . but I didn’t go. third generation American. and all that. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. where we went to school. and the drinks were giving us a nice buzz so we decided it was time to go to dinner. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. but that I would do it for her sake. Take a couple of steps. an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant. . to meet me halfway. Both her parents were still alive. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas. Linda. I’m not a power seducer. Christopher. I just like all these legends and stories. I only had my mother. There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns. as my father had passed away a few years earlier. oh no. Sorry. Hell. so I have none to tell. As I was telling her everything I could think of.
but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. I would reply that I could go either way. But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. and if it is not you it won’t be you.contributed to bring us closer. It meant “Your love is a waste of time. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. She looked just fine. as we were walking into the Closerie. Can you read 62 . and I knew it was the beauty from inside. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. the one that was beyond looks. 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 I would go home feeling powerless. unable and unwilling to change and create new possibilities? We can do anything if we learn to notice and appreciate our gift for happiness. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. our familiarity the kiss of death. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. because they don’t already know me like you do”. staring at me softly with no fear. always seem to win out. our history was like a curse. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. and will never lead to anything”. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing anything. yet none of it meant anything to her. we were laughing at everything. and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. We had the evening ahead of us. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. as if we were saving ourselves for later. as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. history. 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. I had no history with Linda. convention. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. the mahogany and green. She would shut me up. Alison. or “I won’t”. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. I shall love who loves me. Getting to the car. It seemed that to her. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. whom I love more.
and we are both going to leave and say goodnight. Yet this time.Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! . and I had developed an aversion to them. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. a great luxury in California. but with a desperate sigh. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other. Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. I was trying to overhear their conversation. as if things were getting a little hard to handle. The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic. Linda was looking at the menu. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten. he said au revoir. and he was talking directly to me. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. and were given a very nice table on the verandah. made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne.Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out. Finally. Next thing I know. We decided on oysters on the half shell. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. a song I could definitely identify with. after discussing the weather. 63 . but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way. but a regular if expensive commodity here. which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening. .it too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat. Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. and Linda turned back to me smiling. . the pianist was playing “Crazy”. The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar.What’s happening? I asked. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. salads. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky.
I don’t happen to know you very well. which did include a little bit of anxiety.Oh. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look.You know. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting. that’s just it.What do you mean Lindy? I said. . and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. I like it better than Linda Louise.Well. .. and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be. She kept looking at me as she was drinking. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. that’s how friends call me. . and had not even introduced me to him. that’s the only way out of this. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. 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. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. . Come clean. come clean. nothing. it sort of hurt my feelings.Yes. and that look set everything back on track for me. you know.He calls you Lindy? . even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. He is a friend of Julien’s. it’s funny. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. I sighed and got a grip on myself.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. . Also. 64 .Here’s to the weirdness of life. 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. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now. Why did I have these feelings. . I haven’t seen either of them in a long time. that’s Pierre. she said. I was puzzled at myself.
. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter.. Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues. He just talked about himself. It felt as if she was already dead. as usual. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet. care.I guess I am still angry at them. just removed. encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. and delicate handling. But they don’t want the case solved.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing. Still.She was when she would start saying that she had no free will and that Marie was somehow pulling her strings even though she made her feel miserable. superficial and boring. I shared some of these thoughts with Linda. or worse.But were there ever times when things were good? 65 . as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday. was she? . manipulative. It all sounded so familiar. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. I feel that we all need each other’s help. and beautiful. and especially why they did it. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case. and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend.You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… . It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone. he did not say anything more about it. . Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse. But. whether it is romantic or not. as if anything he had to say would hurt me. Don’t.But Alison was not boring. He sees Julien all the time. . solid. his own problems with his girlfriend. as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. so he can help. and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole.
a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. and full of questions. and came out of it all sweet. if they were good and true.As she said that. Sexually. Alison was often languid. though… . pure. . She did have a gift for happiness. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. with unbelievable beauty. the way her face would light up with youthful energy. I told her about Yosemite. I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. passionate and elegant at the same time. unemotional. she became soft. in whole. could fuel the present with spirit. about Alison’s good sides from our past. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective. She was not eating but was swallowing hard. generous and seemingly invincible. 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. before Marie. Everything became magical. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. and was interested in everything. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. she said. mainly marijuana. emotionally unleashed. she could be a hedonist. and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. . I stopped talking. wonderful madness.You know. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. that of the soul within. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. leaning her head to the side.Does it worry you that you liked it? 66 . was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. the food arrived. Alison. But when she was herself and connected. Linda was staring at me intensely. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. as if the memory of past loves. and an endless belief in the goodness of this world. vulnerable. always mysterious. beyond conventions. . I described my joy at seeing her. the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. . and maybe this is why wine was invented after all.It was hurried.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly. passion. I can’t say I did not like it. For some reason.
I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction.Oh. it was in her past and not in her present. .I went back to New York. She was with some guy. You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”. It was wild. Her name was Lisa. because she was getting married the next week. and I just went on my merry way.What happened after that? . There was no music playing anymore. and I was kind of happy to see her. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. I was not with anyone at the time. I guess we did our best to communicate in a meaningful way! We stayed together at a friend’s apartment in Santa Monica for a full week. and started working for a TV station there. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances. The first one only once. I ran into her at a party. but we were both trying to ignore that power. 67 .How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them. movies. and all that. we were afraid to cross a certain threshold.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. . I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful. After all. this and that. . It was a little sad. disturbing dream. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something.A little bit. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. to hide my fear of vulnerability. I was threading on thin ice. especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. two. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. . You know. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured. and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way. I tried to agitate some memories. which had not in any way altered our reality. Somehow. The champagne was almost gone. We had finished our food. plays. with a very loud laugh. 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 met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. but I was more involved with the other one. She told me that she hoped I was happy. forget the whole thing.
The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize.Well not really. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. I could not say: believe me Lindy. maybe I don’t either! I said. with women it is different. and in the prairie. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela. and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. and how the grass was always greener on the other side. Give me something.Well. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. I would like him to come back so I could say no. . Not in the circus. . as in reality it was seldom like that. I thought. back off. Linda’s eyes were filling up.Would you want to get back with him? . . I realized how hurt I still was about Alison. Come on fate. give me a break this time. This says it all. Lindy. until she finally gave in and kissed me. Knock on wood.I am sorry it ended like it did. and how attractive they were. It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between. I guess. She went on talking about herself and Julien. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. Of course. but very self involved. and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment. He was a journalist of some kind. he had decided to cross over to the other side. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja. and plant my face in front of hers. you know. A bad sign. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. she said. That would have been a lie. loud and clear. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her. Julien was a good guy. Back off. and say: “Hey”. But I am probably kidding myself. Maybe if I was Marie. and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. 68 . We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us. OK. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . I got it. It must have been rough on you. She said it always bothered her.I don’t know. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. Finally. The tamer and the tamed. But I wanted my wild horses free.She took her time to answer.
as if we both had the same impression. sagging a little. People seemed to be having fun. She came back upstairs. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone. . We were silent on the way to the car. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. whichever way it would go.Here. maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. Sometimes. and we were ready to go outside. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot. to make this into a good. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. I drove straight into the narrow passage. and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. and you have to live with your impression after that. so back into hell I went. where I was to drop her off. incredibly alone and rejected. and a code keypad to keep the burglars out. this is where I live! The building looked very old. how forward can I be. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. like a good antique. was like giving in to the forces of evil. and she did not seem too scared of it. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers. just to be 69 . I’d give anything to own it. anxious about the way the evening would end. with an old doorway. it was comfortable. when we connected. You have to come see it some time. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich.It is very nice. . Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. usually for a short time. I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. smiling and looking around too. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear. I felt betrayed and cheated. When the reversal finally came however.
and it felt good. but all the same. as if I had cheated myself on something.Well. let’s! I said.You take care too… She was gone. and give me yours too. She went to the door. honest. . I did too. This was a lot of fun. fished the key out of her giant purse. I held her tight.Will you give me your phone number. California style hug. but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers. . . 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. good night. . I felt empty and incomplete. dead in its tracks. We have to do it again.Yes. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building. OK? . None did. she turned to me and said: . I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did. I got back to the car. She suddenly got out of the car. The least I need to do. I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes. and headed for home.Yes. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on. take care… Her voice became very soft. It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. it was just a hug. The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment. In a panic. She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours. and then gave me a good. I like the Babylone.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here. she said. our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to 70 . As the door opened. is get her phone number this time.Talk to you soon. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it.
if the lesbian in charge sits there waiting for her to take the first step? I remember hearing from Alison how her first woman lover had to literally pounce on her to make anything happen. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. screams. It could have been great. he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin. gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. freedom. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum. You could hardly hear the neighbors. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me. But in the servants’ area. by making some kind of a move. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed. (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. The architect had thought it all out very well. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. the City of Light and Glamour. How I sat there 71 . and would only affect our lives negatively. honest verbal overture. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. or at least a clear. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. hurried steps. Otherwise. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have. After my dinner with Lindy. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. intellectual adventure you-name-it. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway.come out and give their names openly. And also of course. Everything that happened in the hallway. with a common toilet for the whole floor. In my mother’s building. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. But the brick wall had a breach. This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. At times. right next to my ear. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison.
So far. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. if not always clear. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. 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. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. with somebody else. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. however. but definitely mutual. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. let’s get on with some real fun. Maybe it was just 72 . and how unexpected…In Paris. she had already done the infamous deed. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element.laughing at her crude approach. Besides. of all places. Other times. because it could bring us so much closer when it was over? But I guess people can’t look forward to what they are not aware of. and swear to be with me forever. as long as I kept the messages true. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. she had sought me out. nothing was lost either. There was some history that I had to contend with. Yet to me. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. If she did not. life is too short to stop yourself from doing what you want even if it is only for the moment!”. In fact. She would come to me when she was ready. On the other hand. then if nothing was gained. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. until she finally would have to give in. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. even if she knew what could happen between us. Paris. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors.
Ruthie. still nothing. saying only as much as was safe to say. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. and started applying my methods for not thinking.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. and leave a lot to the imagination. I cannot come to the phone right now. all right. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. this is Linda. No such luck. and she hadn’t called. I’m going to do it. and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. as I had in California. Ruthie says: you might not win. after our dinner. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it. “Hello. without much success. and leave it on the machine. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. The days went by. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. Should I give up on the whole thing? Why hasn’t she called? I kept wishing that I had an answering machine in Paris. tsk. and I almost had a couple of accidents. more movies. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. straight woman in tennis shoes. American in Paris. Go ahead. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. I kept myself busy. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. If you don’t play. husky. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. Why should I wait for her to call? Telephones work both ways…I wish I could talk to Ruthie right now and get some encouragement…What would she say? The same thing Francoise had said. All right. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. talking to them. Lindy Christoforos. A bonanza for shy people. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. you have nothing to lose. Have a good time. You could prepare your message in your head. Here it was…An answering machine. These devices are great. I was dialing her number. Sunday came and went. I felt discouraged. lay off. yet totally unaffected. but if you would like to leave a message 73 . seeing friends and family. but it’s like the Lottery. there is only one way to find out.
I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. attractive voice she had. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. First. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. then to dinner. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly. but there was nothing I could do about it. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. and that there was none to waste. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. The thought was infuriating me. the machine answered. 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 is just like Alison.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. and leave it to fate. things became more manageable. “Hope to hear from you soon. I had come back to the café all right. Once more. just like Alison. and tucked her cold feet back in. If she claimed not to be interested. and I don’t get anything out of it. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. well I just had to go with that. reluctant to leave my room. I had not asked to start this. Two days later. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. Please call me in the mornings. I hung up. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it. and to not give in to disguises. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. I left my message in English. “après le bip sonore”. It would be a waste. we’ll see. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. And at least. as she repeated the last part in French. No call the next day either. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. there was no other word for it. and later with Angela. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. Hopefully. She had picked me up. please do so after the beep”. Again. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. Once you had mastered step one. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. What an exotic. cover ups and rationalizations. I was going crazy. Oh well. Please call me”. “I think we should talk about things a little more. Second. I hope everything is OK. I found myself dialing her number again. Waiting for phone 74 . I said. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart.
Don’t call us. early in the morning.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again. with a lot of Alison dreams. ha. .Well. we’ll call you.Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . I slept with great difficulty. I kept myself busy all day again.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. It was Lindy. A little early for a French date. But things could be arranged… . She did not seem afraid or disturbed. . the phone rang while I was still half asleep. and that was it. I said goodbye. We hung up. are you kidding? This is great. I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. Right. She does not know what she’s missing. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… .Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. deciding at times. if she does not want me. Then. dreams of rejection. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being. “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . Well. Dream on.No. Sometimes. I enthusiastically agreed.Fine. I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. Saturday as in tomorrow. I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband. Once more. she does not want me. ha. and you are not listed. . of disconnection. 75 . How are you? . just for old time’s sake. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. “Same here” she said very sweetly. It is the daily grind of the betrayed. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams. but after all she was not French.Yes.I would love to. adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.You mean tomorrow? . she was ahead of me and surprised me. that there was no more hope. especially now that I have your phone number again.
I had lunch with some friends from high school. and the stigma had stayed with me. How was I going to spend the day. and inviting her was out of the question. I decided not to 76 . had much cleaner.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. I felt that other people. threatening to rain. In my mind. and who knows. I knew something had to be done and that the situation had to evolve fast. The clocks once more. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. I was going to have the car. nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays. if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. The weather was overcast. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. Besides. a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. after a sleepless night. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation. I called Francoise to reschedule our plans for the next day. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. it was much more fun to go there. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. normal people. and that it was very seldom the other way around. seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. After lunch. as a friend. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. extremely noisy. Neither of us really liked it. it gave her a more assertive attitude. I took my mother with me to see a movie.
as I went into the apartment. and left in the still crowded evening. which was definitely worth checking out. I arrived at her door. I needed to get to a phone and call her. It was locked. She was on the last floor. . and told me it was on the fifth floor. Is that you? I described my predicament. I had to make change and go downstairs to call. I cultivated my anger at Alison. As I drove. She gave me the code. think of the time it will take to find a parking place! I said goodnight to my mother.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. I punched in the code. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. I could be fashionably late. an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. feeling much better. left. The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now.Yes. It was almost a quarter past seven. Oh. waiting for me. and tried to open it. the carrier of Christ.Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love. and searched the side streets to no avail. Sorry… She hugged me. and did not know where the apartment was.Allo? . . I started feeling present and alive again. as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy. Everything was all right. and started going up the ancient staircase.Lindy? . welcoming. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. unlucky in parking saying after all. she said without questioning my use of the nickname. I went back onto the quay. Smiling. She answered. there is Lindy Christoforos. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. and leave everything to the moment. At the end of this drive. Here we go. It felt and I felt a little bit slanted. Seven twenty five. I realized I did not have the code. She looked 77 . I decided to cross the bridge. Fortunately. life was beginning to make sense again. the tangled webs… I drove all the way into the Rue de Nevers. and finally found a place on the other bank. I walked back. she sounded very sweet.
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.
why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified. really.. that I would have been better off straight. and talking about ourselves. and the other ones to hate themselves in response. I didn’t care. and I agreed with her. it depends. some that we had never read but wished we had. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . I said. Yet she hangs on. like you know. sipping some old cognac. Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed. I felt very close to Lindy. the world and everything else. This Alison thing has made me question everything. The straight world has gone beyond that. I think gay women are so screwed up. side by side. I poured us some more wine.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile. We sat on the couch. Compared to her. trying to stay relatively cool. I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow. . Brahmin or Untouchable. full of resentments and judgments about 81 . I still think gay women should be above all this. and found some books in French and English that we had read. a tough biker type with tattoos. At that moment. After dinner. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. that the key to all this is the same. we checked out Igor’s bookcase. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman.It sounds to me.Sometimes. one to hate.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however. cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. so exclusive and unreal? . Somehow. 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. both parties have to agree. it would sound so horrible and abusive. you’re right! But for some reason.Oh well. . I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on.You’re right…Of course. gay or straight.
evaluating he changes in my mood. . There was silence in the room. empty glass in hand: 82 . one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. even though I would be at a loss to explain why. . easily. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. Panic seized me. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. Behind her I saw a clock. . The silences were easy. in our review of the world and the past. The magical courage came back to me. for whatever reason.Now my mind seems empty. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other.And now? . Lindy. generously. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up.Is that good or bad? .I was thinking of how. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. I asked her permission. from the simplest to the most difficult. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. ease. yet compassionate of others. and emotional release.It feels good. unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. I should go. and lit an after dinner cigarette. prophecies. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. .everything and everyone. quite peaceful. . and answers to the riddles of the world. so you can always enjoy that special moment. and more of a promise of serenity. all I could think about when I got here was whether or not I would ever sleep with you… She smiled.What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. She seemed kind. and devoid of any expectation. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. I could hear her breathe. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. protective of each other. as it had a few times before. As I was speaking. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. We felt.
that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. We walked to the door together. I’m sorry… . illuminating the river banks. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. 83 . I am sorry to keep you up so late. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. against mine. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers. embraced in a final hug. without pulling back. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. its searchlights on. “I’ll call you” she whispered. I had a wonderful evening. We both laughed. I felt some huge wave of unreality wash over me as I walked across the bridge. We were both rewarded for our courage. In Paris. 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.Aie! Goodness. The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. 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. thanks to some inner pilot who was taking over my feet. and turned around to say goodbye… . and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. I did not work. and I have to be there. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. fullest kiss one can imagine. and leave her cheek right there. sweetest. I was putting on my jacket. when we found ourselves involved in the softest. bright as day. Instead. dream like…like life itself. climbing up the stairs out of breath. I did start toward the bridge. The cathedral was still lit. but she said she would take care of it all. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. all was said and done. I would constantly wake up. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing. When we finally pulled apart after quite a while. I bounced out into the cold night. and she. she opened it. We are shooting some location footage for the archives. Oh. I had no idea where the car was. and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. she had the nerve to give me a hug.No.. gathering my things. and imaging myself getting up. my heart was pounding away. I mumbled something about helping with the dishes.Thank you.
saw and heard nothing. and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… .Yes. . She knew.It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught… 84 . walk everywhere. My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations. You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar.Well. it felt like a dream. If she is home. if you don’t know what I mean. Again. but in dreams everything always seems so normal. You remember the code? . How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? . It was half past ten. The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing. but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous.What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” . Closing in… Suddenly. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number. My only comfort was to walk. until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor.Come only if you want to. On the third night. Hi! I was hoping it was you… . but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable. I was wondering if you could possibly come over… . drank nothing. how are you? . I knew.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? .Well. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing. I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times.Now? She sounded as if she was joking.I was hoping it was you in person too.Yes but… . I saw some friends.
where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris.Hey. and sat me down on the couch. You know. It was on a weekday. . I regained my composure. but not like a native either. grabbed both of my wrists. This is what I want to do right now. My mind was blank. started the car. The world never sleeps. are you? . her beauty. and left. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations.Sometimes. I could never have imagined that you… .This is OK. The monuments on the river bank were all lit. Paris would never be the same again. like a special favor to me. I knew exactly where I was going and why. Life had just become different in the past half hour. . and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. In this new life. I was staring at her. directly into the Rue de Nevers. She closed the door. shoes…I was going through the motions.. and I was ready for it. 85 . right? You’re not scared or anything. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. a jacket. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again. and escaped into the shiny night. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle. I went down to the garage. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city. in awe of her poise. I was not particularly nervous. I put on a T-shirt. and said “All right…” with relief. Paris never sleeps. there were no cops to give you parking tickets. and I was already used to it. and yet the streets were still crowded. things get really clear for me. jeans. I turned right on the bridge.
but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. So we simply stuck to words for a while. dawn finally won over the darkness. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come. and fluid like water. the one who could share. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. making a game of folding each item neatly. the one who savored all that life had to offer. young. heavy. No performance anxiety or uneasiness. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship. and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. Sleep meant relaxing. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. through the skylights. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. 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. while we were still together. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. it was thick. It was late. like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. I had a thought for Alison. We undressed slowly. We barely knew each other. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. Lindy reached behind her head. Yet there was the recognition of love.Suddenly. and keeping her eyes on me. I had seen it done many times in movies. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. carefully. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there. Why hadn’t she simply called me first? 86 . Then. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking. shook her head gently and let her hair down. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. we sat on top of the bed facing each other. When we were done.
and take it all the way. and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. nor will I wish to… . I feel like time has stopped. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit. . Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother. she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance. who was smiling at me as she was asking the question. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear… 87 .I’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. in a cocoon of softness. And somehow. I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. .Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. We were very different people from the night before. Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… . I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while.To me. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. Instead. that will be it.. and I will never go back. It was a crime against me and Lindy. but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her. as usual. the betrayal. She was definitely innocent of any such crime. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. We were swimming in warm waters.What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. If she calls me. rite of shame. I guess we both had done a good day’s work. and were now collecting the fruit of our labor.You did. the I only wanted to be friends – what have you done to me – I’d rather not see you again rite of passage. then it will be a sign and I swear that I will do the rest of the work. plague that can break the most wonderful attempts at liberation. it feels like I have come home to the place that I have been wanting to visit for so long… Lindy did not seem to suffer from any fear of having converted herself to a low form of human being. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… . if she doesn’t call me. 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. pleased with herself.It seems to me that we are on a sailboat.
I could not find any.Are you feeling any of these fears? . She was laughing and we felt so strong. Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. We were making plans of the greatest importance. The day was really here. It was evident that what really counted. and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment. this freedom. it 88 . and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together. and I would have a normal day. Everybody else could stay in the dark. that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. All I could find was a welling up of happiness. or worse yet. In fact.. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies. Then Lindy would go to work. Except that I knew that when the evening came. looking for my familiar insecurities. we could spend 48 hours together in a row. which superseded and sanctified everything. but I could not find that many at all. so indestructible. we slowly got up. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. None of it seemed to matter one bit.You mean now? . . Afterwards. 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. but that she would be afraid that he would ask her to bring me over to his house so he could watch us and do it with us.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. fear that I will turn against you. or straight or anything. I would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave. maybe a little smug…Well. what God or whoever meant for us to feel. this comfort. was this great happiness. We sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner.Fear of what? . No evil could ever come of it. calm. laughter. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. On the contrary. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened.
The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. at the door. Someone had to make a decision. “Hi. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. I was out in the light. I had to go. and had given me the nerve to come back to her. They gave you the terminal for free. Yet. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating.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. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel. 89 . and then collected on your various calls and time online. someone watching over me. illegal. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. or a Goddess. of intelligence. It was light out. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. She had to go to work. I felt elated and shaky. 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. with me. There was a God. I backed it up to the Quai. singles groups. It was time for me to go. The car was still there. out of place. I had been so lucky! . My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. out on the street. pick up bars and gay bars. Bravely. the magic was lingering. who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps.was the essence of generosity. and sped toward the darker western skies. you are faceless. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. 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 we were going to get our 48 hours together.. The bag was not too heavy. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi. on my way back to California. Lindy had taken Monday off. I’m not. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other. slow and gentle. Once more. born in Argentina.No. the streets and the city. She did not want to cancel. But Lindy and I had made other plans. I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead. I had packed.Are you going back home then? . So this time. and we were mellow. Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. There I was. the temptation…I smiled back. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. I was in my home 90 . and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. I had jumped off the train of time. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. no…thank you. not really either…I guess I’m just going away. Rue de Nevers. while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. Without any prompting on my part. Lindy came down to help me. I usually always took the Sunday flight. I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality.No. Climbing into the taxi. . His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. on Tuesday. It was as if we were on a beach. . She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies. with him. and called a cab to leave on Sunday. It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing. I had said goodbye to everyone. I entered the code. On a clear summer day. who lived on a barge on the river.No. It was hot and sultry. Then we closed the door on the stairs.
We walked along the still crowded square. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. Dinner was delicious. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. with an exuberance of color. It had a bedroom. he said. 91 . We agreed that while it would be great to be able to make out in the open like these people. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Antonia.As long as it is temporary! Lindy said it as she leaned her head on my shoulder and stole a kiss on the base of my neck. I laughed with him. His paintings were abstract. and up to the bridge. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual. from his mother’s ancient recipes. happy. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. according to him. a table was set for three. young. but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. yet exuded calm. but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen. we were in love with the world. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. Diego was a great cook. with candles and a bottle of wine. and the world loved us back. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. lounge chairs. He took us on a tour of the barge. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. seafaring lore and framed photographs. The deck was decorated with flowers.Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. It was small. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall.city. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever. Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. We toasted to all of us. By the window on the river side. . We climbed aboard and right away. . The door was open on an interior full of paintings. we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. Good for sex. to friendship and love. We were in love with each other. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop. Every item had its place. and he said he had prepared food especially for us.
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. 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. exhausted and overwhelmed. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. we woke up giddy with renewed energy. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. 92 . to always treasure as a souvenir. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. he said. We had some coffee and some fruit. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. Unfortunately. we had dulce de leche. Lindy was laughing a lot. For dessert. We finished the evening with yerba mate. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him. and gave us each one. I had escaped with a lie. Maybe that first day at the Babylone. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine. It was only the beauty of the full moon over the river and the bridges that held us back from running full speed ahead to the moonlit garret awaiting us on top of the Rue de Nevers. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. So. one of the most erotic tangos ever written. but could not stay apart for too long. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together. That night.. my friend Diego. The next morning. We were stunned that everything was going so well. Finally. and walked off into the night holding hands. we said goodnight to our host. our friend and protector. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. At first we thought of going to a movie.Always be good to each other. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. so I did care.
A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her. Neither of us had ever been up there. As we were talking. so we would always remember it as ours. It was not very crowded up there. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. 93 . Going down was even harder than going up. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. and sat down below the stairs. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. We were pointing landmarks to each other. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. flatly. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. She admitted hers were too. She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. There was nobody there. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. and now. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. We entered from the side. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. she was in love with me. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot. sitting out on the stone steps. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. -You know that I love you. the hunchback who lived in the tower. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. and started up the stairs. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. In between the rumble of tour boats. The men had danced until dawn. and we needed a rest. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. and the view was sweeping and breathtaking. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. unbelievably. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. but it was a different story to say it like that. and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure.
. Once Rue de Nevers. . I did not know what to say. -Nah. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. I was shocked. I could not stay in Paris. We kissed in the shadow of the stairs. under the protection of the trees. Lindy was running ahead. I smiled back. I took a deep breath. -Yes. slender and graceful. . We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other. 94 . -How about…I stopped mid-sentence.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank. hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge. then walked briskly across the bridge. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank. past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai.She replied softly.Now I know why you wear running shoes. But I was also surprised at the relief I felt. she said. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. and as always trying to control her hair. I caught up with her. Then finally. We stayed silent for a while. Let's go home… We went back up the steps. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. We were so well tuned by then. we did not waste any time.Come on.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. I guess we had found our legs again. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever. It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. I said. Wow. and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed. . but then dared to ask the hovering question.
and lover of Psyche. Even if I can't do anything about it. son of Aphrodite. It was long. I repacked my suitcase. not eating very much. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. I started with the obvious. it was also my own. She smiled in the candlelight. It was slow. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. and toasting to everything. -Will you always love me? -Yes. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. I will always love you. just live in the present and make the best of it all. elated by the memories of our day together. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner. and dreamy. 95 . Then she took her turn. She had put on a jazz CD. I folded the letter. and the ease with which we had solved our future. but that was just fine. Once done. Lindy returned. At some point. shooter of arrows. it will always be there.Once there. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand. It was simple: no upheaval. We were feeling euphoric. daring and lighthearted. we stayed as long as we could. All we had was champagne. I always will. no obligation. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. I called a cab for the next morning. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. and we sat down to dinner. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. I said. -Will you always desire me? -Yes. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis.
it was harder to let go than we expected. I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go. Finally. we eventually did fall asleep. before the next morning. I did not know which one to go with. One last kiss. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. I think she meant the apartment. We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. 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. A man and a 96 . and finished packing. Not surprisingly. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. I will be. I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due. and soon we had to forget about dinner and proceed with all the living to be done. As it turned out. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. but she could have meant Paris. -Next time you come to Paris. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. I said I would do the same. the time came. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. There was promise and regret in her tone. but we woke up in time without the alarm. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. A lifetime had gone by. the loving ahead of us. and made love for what we felt could be the last time. We sealed the vows with a kiss.
but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. I began… The van started honking. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. 97 . I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. Lindy had taken me by the hand. She waved back. j'arrive! She yelled back. Hearing her voice on the recording again. I had never known such freedom. let the chips fall where they may. I might come back soon. and had to sit down on my suitcase. conformity. and effortlessly walked me through it. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. I had never loved like this. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. And then. I finished the cigarette.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. She was gone. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". I suddenly was exhausted. I waved back. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. with such intensity. my taxi had arrived. or I might not. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. -Lindy. When we pulled apart. We had a new take on life. I had never lived like this. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. hopping into the van and waving. I realized how far we had come in those few days. her eyes were down. I lit a cigarette. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. and stereotype and there was no turning back. 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. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. -J'arrive. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever.
they didn’t have it. beautifully open. drinking a little too much. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. No surprise there. and off I went. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. There was also an aura of kinship.Lindy. so we can solve all of their problems. feminine with the femininity of gentleness and intuition…Androgynous with a sense of freedom and adventure that is not tied to any of the world’s stale institutions and rules of conduct. If I did not end up being with her. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. Half way through dinner that night. There she was. After the phone call. They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. 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. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. 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. 98 . 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. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. but it would be a great comfort to know that Lindy and I were once again reading the Obscure One at the same time together. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. 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. Of course. well maybe I could be more like her. As I entered the kitchen. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. of inner or past troubles. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you.
I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector. California. while he is himself about to die. This was a time in my life. but thought that I never would. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. I had been doing this for the last year or so. in which the aging hero. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. Venice. Gustav Von Aschenbach. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. I thanked her. It was just for a couple of days. The similarity in names. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. I was appalled to think that at my age. I was lighthearted. I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. They were unconventional. Minna had very kindly said to me that I was welcome to stay with them in Venice if I ever had to go to LA. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. I remembered Minna’s offer. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. struck me as most ominous. intelligent. Coming back to the dining room. and hoped that I would stay in touch. As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. and well travelled. a sophisticated. and Bethany was not a kid anymore. enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes. I liked both of them a lot. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. and Minna.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. So. So there I was…I felt good. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. I still was not worried 99 .
and in love. It was a beautiful day.about Aschenbach. she would have to give a speech and there was no way of course that she could miss this event. “Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. beautiful. It was almost a relief to leave the house and drive on the freeway on my way to Hollywood. a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. His smile was broad and confident. He was slim. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. and being one of the recipients. holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. rich. Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious. In fact. We had talked at length about VJ the night before. So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. and then out on a date with her boyfriend Vijay or “VJ” as they called him. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. I was plotting to make sure that our moments together would be perfect…What did that mean? I didn’t really know. and know that it was just a gift. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. I said. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. and yet keep it light. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. Minna was very matter of fact about the award. Much to my chagrin however. as I 100 . and not too smoggy. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day. That morning. elegant. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling.
revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. After all these years. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. and walked in with a spring in my step. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. It was not too different from the times. free and ageless. I felt better. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. but I did not feel the same. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. saying hello. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. I felt generous. The water was quite chilly. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. I decided it was too early. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. just for fun. feeling alive. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. it felt like I had finally become myself. We even discussed a particular night. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light. and stared at the waves for quite a while. The meeting went very well. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. guardian of our dreams and our longings. hurtful and out of line. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. Everything looked good this morning. and went right back outside. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe! 101 . The mist was gone. things might go better for me. and so did the lunch afterwards. and walked into the empty house. and I was smiling back. I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma. There. well named Tinsel Town. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. Then went back North and through Hollywood. People were smiling at each other. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night.
cooling the glass with ice cubes. . in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs. and was getting ready to warm them up. finding a plate. Then some classics. . 102 . "Anna Karenina".D. Interesting. I went back into the house. . but I wanted to be comforting somehow. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before. and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion. maybe she forgot something.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered. . you never know when it might be lost or stolen. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. I went back to the living room. I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. Ah. Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah. .Finally.Yes. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment. that would be nice. a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm". I said. three shelves below. Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm". She smiled. I did not want to intrude. Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying. well so did I! She did seem upset. I was examining the book collection as well. . I went back to my dinner. I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. when it started looking a little more like dusk. by John Wyclife.Sure. pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little. Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello. I think she was very flattered and looking forward to it and would not miss it short of a catastrophe involving major National Security issues. and as I always like to do.I thought you were going out tonight. M. when I heard the front door open and close.Come here. Well. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read.
or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better. . It was dark outside. We talked about movies we liked. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you? 103 .She seemed to begin to relax a little.So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it. I could guess. For all I know.Ah. . . please. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. of course.Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. where we had been. and I was determined to help in some way. . by chance.Well. but it was on voice mail. and she flirts with everyone including him. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers. She was talking easily of this and that. on the road. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went. he was there. . she’s from Brazil. or would you rather not? Talk about it.So I called his cell phone. .Do you have any idea where he went? . what we thought. we talked about our travels. . there is this girl Olivia Ramos.Oh. 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.He thinks she’s hot. . She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask. We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001. in the middle of the Outback. Australia.Or at the emergency room. I can talk about it. but he was not there. He always says he thinks she’s really hot. 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. The wine was delicious and light. don’t hold it in. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. going down easy and was relaxing both of us.
Well. that is of course very important… But Bethany. What do you want to know? 104 . She looked straight back at me. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. I mean it. At least. .What do you know about this. I’m not. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… .Oh. 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 have been around the block a few times. She looked at me with a funny little smile. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing.. I said it lightly. and softly chuckled. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. We have fun together. At least that's what I would have done… .Well. from what you told me. since yesterday.Yes. . maybe. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. more than one. he’s never said it in my presence. . I said jokingly. and did not seem embarrassed at all. Wyclife's arcane instructions.Well. she laughed. amazed at her beauty. she asked. but that’s just me. I looked back at her. 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 looked down briefly. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need.Yes. this might not mean much to you. However. but if outwardly you are quite stunning.Ha. I have.Are you kidding? . have you ever been with a man? . I do. he pays me nice compliments every now and then. like a joke. . smiling. .No.
and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. I reminisced on how any time we found ourselves alone on a beach or a secluded trail was an excuse to make love. I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal.Quite different. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely. whether I was with her or away from her. quasi erotic friendships with men. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf. how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles. illicit and were deeply hidden. in Redondo Beach. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves. in San Francisco’s North Beach. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? . the ones with the little houses and the little lawns. had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility. even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. It was as if each moment was intensified. . East Los Angeles.No. my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years. being with a woman is dangerous. . with a woman I had met at a cafe. into territories where acquaintances seldom go. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. and I suddenly stopped talking. and women are not always very careful with that. Actually. Still.And off we went. All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial. I said. Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . On the other hand.and in a relationship with a man. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. oil pumping ones. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time. I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women. I became conscious of my breathing.Was that your first time? . one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. and of an overwhelming 105 .
Wrapped in the towel. to our rooms. and she replied that it was going quite well. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. so a shower will be a good substitute. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. I luxuriate. My head is spinning a little from the wine. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However. we went up the stairs. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. The salt in the air is exhilarating. wiping counters. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. So. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. I broke the spell by making small talk. this is not quite the Caribbean. I can still hear the ocean out there. Dying is not an option. Bethany got up as well. more intoxicating than the alcohol. Tonight has been so good. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. and started gathering the dishes. asking how school was going for her so far. and it is strange to say. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. of an elegant. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. as I am entranced by her. 106 . Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. filling up the dishwasher. and we cleared the table. I got up from the table. 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.desire to kiss her. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. to find Bethany in my room. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. Finally. Instead. and was shamelessly taunting me. putting away unused silverware.
we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation. tenderness. All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane. She looks flushed and smiling. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. to my utter surprise.Oh Bethany. we end up kissing instead. I don’t really care. enough suffering. I guess it went quite well after all. along with an old business card from something somewhere. but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not….You know…I need to say this. The return is made of gentleness. I’d like to get it. . But then. forgotten . where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. She laughs. naturally. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging. I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp. I want to give Bethany what she wants. she kisses softly. all the way to some strange ease. She lowers her eyes and starts .Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. OK. sent back to their dark alleys.Of course not… -That book you mentioned. I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. 107 . looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home. tonight…”. and feel all. I say. and I find it. hours ago.a little too big for her. I turn around. where all shame and self consciousness disappear. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. a man’s robe. What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience. if only what’s his name could see you right now. oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder. . where the travelers know all. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. . And then. she props her head up on her elbow.Mind if I come in? She says… . Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me.
Don’t worry. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. 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 am in awe of my student. . How easy it is to lose track of time. As I turn off the light. don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. how did you sleep? 108 . “…angel…” I say. I grant you that. and by now. I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night. . as I realize Minna is coming home. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible. I am not expecting anything from you. We talk softly. I guide her. I got up. Now dear reader.Here comes your mom. We jump off in tandem. and things don’t always have to work out that way. or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. 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. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. and tiptoes toward the door. Just consider this my legacy. My last glimpse of her as my lover is of the hummingbird tattoo on the small of her back as she throws on the robe and shuts the door behind her. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions. She is looking at me. I am in a way teaching. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off.Good morning! Said Minna. I must have. though. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about.. But in reality. She smiles back.Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. I’m not sure she would appreciate. Her beauty is overwhelming me. I smile. and I snap back to the world. I follow her. She kisses me again lightly. Bethany…I am not free anyway. I hear the front door open. . you better get out of here.
I waved back. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. I said goodbye to Minna. . . for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. -Oh. I could see Bethany. energetic. when after what seemed to be a very long time. I slept very well. trying to make sure that I would remember everything. By the time I was packing up to go. and it was well worth the trip.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing. but on the other hand. Bethany came back just to keep me company. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table.Thank you Bethany. At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease. . I was feeling quite happy with myself. She laughed quite easily. I answered that it went well. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux. I saw Minna wave from the terrace. she was always radiant.What can I say…my pleasure! 109 . . My inner Gustav was somewhere else. I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. chasing young things around Venice. we got absorbed in the anecdotes from the banquet. and the conversation stayed away from my evening and how it went. “Good morning!” She was smiling. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. but honestly. even when she was sad. I walked over to her. looking at her.Yep. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality. radiant. I finally started relaxing. As I turned toward the house. dressed. and it was about to be over.Out of the corner of my eye. up. not wanting to be distracted from the moment. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode. I came down and started loading the rental car. I couldn’t. how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. feeling easy and detached. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality. I realized I had feared for a few minutes that I was not going to see her again. and she was a perfect hostess. mixing stuff in the blender. and I was feeling strong and gliding though life on a path of lightness and freedom. I said.
this cut to the quick. Somehow. She had always been so pleasant with me. Relieved. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. 110 . my mind was still with Bethany. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. and I felt that for her. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. I had said that I did not expect anything. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. So there was a certain amount of longing. Maybe she was upset because I teased her when she said that material possessions did not matter to her happiness. But I didn’t really know. Still somewhere. Minna and I were not old friends. It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. I wondered why Minna was not responding. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality. in my dark little heart. However.We both started laughing. no response ever came. back home near San Francisco. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. I am not very good at blowing kisses. to knowing how Bethany was doing. so I got in the car and drove away. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. so far. hoping that she would catch up with her email. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. For some reason. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. to enjoying a link which would not be broken. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. From the shadow of the house. To my surprise. I think she would have been more the confronting type. and finally answer me. Bethany was gone. I walked back to the car. I was looking forward to hearing from her. 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. but no pain. and to whom one can talk about just anything. For about a week after I returned home. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. and then decides that they have too many friends already. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. and was fully expecting a response.
Now. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. He was not as striking as VJ. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. and imagined what it would be like to be her. I felt like I was really cheating. and maybe also shame. And it was true in a way. Some other times. Not only my partner. Sometimes. It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. thinking about Bethany. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. About two months later. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. and became angry at myself. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. 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. regret. It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. This. and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. I felt like I was Bethany myself. Bethany was the angel of Death. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. smooching at this year’s Gala”. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. I had been so cool. I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option. as I was distracted most of the time. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. the local newspaper in Venice California. nor really a desire. if I was alone somewhere. but everyone around me. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. Often. 111 . radiant of course. at her most…well.
and chasing after some unknown idea of success. except for Bethany. California. they all looked alike. As I was singing and driving. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike. a feeling of being vulnerable. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. I loved the song. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. I had been aware. In the end. and that memory was with me a lot of the time. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. to sleep. and uninteresting. My memory of the event however. to horseback rides in the hills. had somehow caused an unconscious regression. had given of herself without fear. that last bastion of privacy. too unnerving. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice.was too distracting. But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. to this gorgeous world. without defenses and with a real purity of intent. I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. But these were not tears of sadness…my throat constricted and my heart started beating a little faster…it was the joy of belonging…belonging to this music. and could not help but start singing along full blast. They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. but the streetlights had come on. accompanying me to work. going for a sexy look. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. 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. One day. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all 112 . ostracized and unloved. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. listening to the radio in my car. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. and I had to exorcise it somehow. but more the idealized image that we have of them. It was not dark yet.
and maybe it is better this way. I do owe her respect and love for who she is and not who I sometimes imagine her to be. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . Maybe it was the circumstances. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. and reminisce on occasion. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. It would last. almost spiritual way. As it turned out. To be honest. albeit in a more restrained. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. but I could see clearly at that moment. and we had opened that door for each other. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. I see nothing but love. because it lived in each of us. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. was not about despair or death. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. She found it again where she wanted to find it. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. it was like that for me. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. I do relish the memories of that night. At least. The feeling was familiar. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. and I found it deep within myself.that was there for me. When I look back at our brief moments together. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. still with delight. it was our own. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. To keep… The most important. who was beautiful and brave.
com Food for the mind 114 .feedbooks.www.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.