Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

so we can solve all of their problems. Of course. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. Part 3: VON ASCHENBACH Like a gift from the heavens it was easy to tell It was love from above that could save me from hell Carlos Santana. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. well maybe I could be more like her. No surprise there. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart.Lindy. 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. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. they didn’t have it. drinking a little too much. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". There she was. 98 . If I did not end up being with her. There was also an aura of kinship. 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. Half way through dinner that night. and off I went. of inner or past troubles. beautifully open. After the phone call. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. 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. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. 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. They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. I went to the airport bookstore to see if by chance they had a copy of Marguerite Duras’ “the Lover”. As I entered the kitchen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

com Food for the mind 114 .feedbooks.www.

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