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Christine Hall Volkoff
Published: 2009 Tag(s): romantic bisexual Paris lesbian "coming of age"
TRAVELS THROUGH LOVE AND TIME Journeys beyond our selves… By Christine Hall Volkoff
Part 1: NOSTROMO One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing spread your wings and take to the sky… DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin “Summertime” Day One
It had started as such a good day. As I sat on the bluff amongst the pines, looking at the entire view of the island all around me, the cicadas were so loud that I could hardly hear myself think. The sea was calm, with a few white sails here and there. I could see the little harbor, with pieces of the village around it. I recognized the Navy fort to my right, and the white beaches to the North, and tried in vain to spot my parent’s house off the Chemin du Langoustier. It felt so good to be out there in the warm breeze, taking in the scent of hot pine sap, the sweet loneliness of being up there with myself and my dreams. One day, I would be up here with someone I loved, and we would kiss in the shadow and protection of the maritime pines, we would own the world. I got up, and went back to my clunky bicycle. The brakes were so bad, that my friends and I had bought some cheap sandals with high cork heels at the Porquerolles market, so we could drag our feet and use the heels as brake pads in order to slow down. I cautiously started down the trail, bouncing the tires over the pine needles and roots. I was on the island for the summer. My parents were both gone, typically in their separate ways, my father in Italy and my mother somewhere in Scandinavia. I enjoyed having the house to myself. Not quite to myself since I had Simone, my governess to take on all the hard work and boring tasks in the house, and take care of me. It was a great deal, and I appreciated every minute. The freedom was palpable, almost unbearable, and I could only hope I could summon the experiences to make it unforgettable. I rode through the village, still bouncing on all the rocks, and took the one paved road to the left, back to the house. I had worked up an appetite, and was looking forward to sitting out in the courtyard, eating Simone’s delicious food and looking at the bees dancing around the wisteria. I was reading a mystery. I always liked to read while having lunch. At night I would usually discuss the day with Simone. I parked the bicycle in the service entrance, and knew right away something was wrong. Simone looked worried. “Your mother called!” she said. Oh no. “Is she coming?” I said, with a mixture of hope and fear. I was hopeful that maybe she was taking enough of an interest in her progeny to come and spend some time with me. I was afraid that she would be coming home and start taking away my precious freedom. -No, but she has invited Mrs. d’Alessi to stay here for a week. -What?!
like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca. She looked good in black and white though. though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. and ran away to my room. She was married to Marco d’Alessi.Oh right. and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career. Right now. and she wants be incognito. I thought she was beautiful.Why. I still could not believe it! One whole week! . I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. as Simone frowned at the word. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? .Shit! Whatever…I said. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. very blue eyes. and always found them to be extremely boring in person.When is she coming? . however. were I have to admit. Since my father was working in the film business. She had dark skin. a producer who was much older than her. slightly above my head. I decided that I would not have 4 . Vernet is bringing her at 3:00.You mother said she had business in France.Today. especially from the point of view of a kid. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave. that she needed the rest. I hated her. Some of the films. I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years. The idea of having to contend with “La d’Alessi” for a whole week made me want to pull out all of my mother’s roses and trample them until there was no trace left of them. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. This was a double whammy! . Mr. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion. I had never met her. I regularly gave them looks that could kill. but I had seen some of her movies. and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s.I was crestfallen. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. . . Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s.
I liked them all. We played a game where we would pull out the old canoe that we had hidden at the Plage d’Argent. He had blond hair that was curly in places. and that always fell in front of his eyes. He was skinny. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. Once they are all dead. and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. did not return my feelings. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. and I loved to watch him. turn it over to empty it and start all over again. and off we went. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. He had the looks of an angel. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. as he always yelled at me. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. making shopping lists. Let him or her go free. At 2:30. My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica.anything to do with her. we will know for sure who done it. I was furious at my mother. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. and did not join us very often. Ondine and Veronica. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. to the latest news. as possible. I made my escape. This was probably what attracted me. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. We made 5 . and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. who were brothers. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. After all our exertions. I had a crush on Bambi. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents. I hopped on the bike. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. The canoe leaked. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. working hard. It was me and “the girls”. Bambi. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. So it was really Ondine and me and the boys. I ate my lunch distractedly. and the manners of a bad boy. So there. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer. whose nickname was of all things. Then.
. good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents. I woke up late. They were blue. .Thanks. I was struck by the color of her eyes. as I usually did on cloudy days.Is she here? . and sat down at the table.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. Simone was not free to talk. yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. but I did not say who it was.OK. so I felt I had to respect that. I took a shower. as close to midnight as I could. grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on. like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin.fun of the people we called tourists. We had houses. . . we were locals. and went out into the patio for some breakfast. ignored the Italianization of my name. that somehow pulled you in. I shook her hand. Day Two The next day was a little cloudy. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies. I’m Francesca. as usual. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter. I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest.Is she going to have dinner at home? . buttering a slice of toasted bread. I will! I was relieved not to have to face the awkward situation of whether I was welcome to eat with Mrs. As she looked up. but there was something about her demeanor. see you tomorrow morning! Good night. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village. .Indeed. those who lived on the island all year round. Francesca d’Alessi was there. Obviously. A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me.You must be Christina…happy to meet you. I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some 6 . luminous. and told her I would not be home for dinner.Yes. other than mocking or yelling. we did not stay in hotels. Today was a good day. Francesca wanted to be incognito. d’Alessi or not. and biked home as slowly as I could. but you are welcome! . She extended her hand to me.
and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys. 7 . She spoke to me in English. she said. You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question).Not far. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help. . . and her English was definitely superior to my Italian. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. to get to the harbor.Yes I do. I aced the spelling dictation as usual. and they let me join in. . but had recently become mine. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone. and then she changed the subject. and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. even less obtained as a result.Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . I replied yes.Mrs.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? .No. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. It’s too small.coffee.So. I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? . . When I arrived at Ondine’s. but sweated a little more for the math. and besides you cannot get lost on the island. she was doing summer homework with her tutor.Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. but Francesca started in. .I am meeting a friend at 10:30. . and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion. He will be here for two nights.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? .
and did not want to go back to the house and look for it. Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. . Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite. I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back. I had borrowed mine from Veronica. She is actually staying at our house. Bambi had brought a fishing gun. on our bikes. Sometimes. I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing. and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues. I know.Sure… And off we went. . I had learned from a local kid how to turn the head inside out and beat out the ink before handing the octopus to the chef for lunch. and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents.Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning. and snorkel gear. Fishing meant hunting down the fish.We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch.She is supposed to be incognito. we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. . Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day.Her boyfriend? Said Bambi. I said sighing. 8 . .And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine.Oh. and sat on the beach. and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom. Bambi started the conversation. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . as I did not remember where mine was.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame.Hey you guys! What are you up to? . but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident. Besides.Nothing…what are you doing today? . . I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned. Do you want to come? .
I went back to my room. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. men sized sneakers there. happy and comfortable. by refusing all the interviews. infinite ocean. and below us was the blue. repeated moaning. When I arrived back at the house. mysterious. I could still hear the bird sound. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins. We were all soaring above white clouds.You better beware. cuff links here. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. intense. This was no bird. At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… .Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents.She’s not a dyke. it was still early. feeling lighter than a feather. and the 9 . 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. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure. No one was there. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. . Suddenly. Things were quite messy in there. of all people. like blue herons. Selena Hirschberg was the dark. I was hanging on to one of them. so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. . know that?! .I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. but I was already dozing off. his name is Tomaso. intense with sweetness. I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together.What? Come on! How could you. I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds. that broke into a long. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. The move broke my balance. the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip. This had driven the paparazzi crazy. finally interested in the next clue.. and picked up my mystery book. It was a soft. little old you. Her boyfriend came today. prolonged moan. with long necks. and I started falling. like seagulls.
feigning sleepiness. wake up! . an immense sadness came over me. and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. realizing they had left the door open.wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall.What? I was wide awake by now. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. and the moaning started again. I could see stars and some clouds. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. I heard water running. I crossed the patio and went back to my room. following their movements. and Tomaso introduced himself. where I could not hear anything. I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. Then. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided. I got up. more voices. and realized it was going to get cold. whispering in Italian. I stayed awake for a while. Shivering. wearing nothing but shorts. come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. . 10 . They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me.Christina. the door opened slightly. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing. and went outside. There was silence for a while. with that racket going on. Francesca greeted me. Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. His smile was disarming and contagious. I started sniffling. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. to the point where tears came to my eyes.Come on. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly. punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. The light was turned off. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. He left the room. Without warning. Someone got up. and I got up and joined them in the patio. Outside. The loneliness was palpable. It took a while. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast. the sound of laughter. listening. . Safe in the warmth of my bed. No way could I sleep. When I did not respond. My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night.
After I climbed back on the boat. the wake. Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. on my way to spending the day with them. The day was gorgeous. The captain Mr. After I had spent some time enlightening 11 . We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. Francesca’s smiling face. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. I thought. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. At night. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back. finally sipping that Pastis. bobbing by the wharf. and I managed to get up on the skis. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults. dark green towel. so engaging. the sky. I declined the drink until later. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. and there I was walking with them. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. Tomaso looked like a Greek God.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing. I will remember this always. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. said Tomaso. being part of them. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me. a Riva speedboat. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. Not a cloud in the sky. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. the misty coast beyond. He was so energetic. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. ready to take his turn with the mono ski. This is how people eat it in Rome. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. This is how real people live. he said. There I was. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. We had melon. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. on a large circle off the coast. I said to myself. We had wine. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. or even with anyone. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue.
. said Francesca. everyone!”.Well. and splashed around as we ran toward the house.Wrap yourself up with cellophane. Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks.them on his name and nickname. we got back into the boat. lifting her glass. I listened into the night. I knew the facts of life of course. I had tears in my eyes. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom. and wait for him in his room.Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. I listened. Now that they were my friends. exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. I was laughing so hard. Day Four As I woke up. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. and listened over the crickets. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. Eventually. Once in my bed. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor. heard some cats meowing. said Francesca. I fell sound asleep. After dinner. We waved goodbye. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. but I could not fathom what was so powerful that those who did it could lose control of their voices and their movements as if caught in a current stronger than their will. night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. and their conscious beings. After we were done drying the floor. they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi. and Mr. he doesn’t know what he’s missing. . I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further. said Tomaso. 12 . and joined her. Running across the living room. We had to jump off the boat into the water. I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. . “Buona Notte.
. I noticed that everything around me had changed. Today was the 14th of July. we had sandwiches for lunch. I threw some sand at him. that’s all! 13 . After all. looking at his back and the blond curls in the back of his head. as his wisecracks about Francesca were beginning to get on my nerves. She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. had changed. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer. Bastille Day. it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. I would suddenly be tall. As a matter of fact. I just know she’s not a dyke.Nothing. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys.You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils.Oh. thinking about the cellophane. but I was also chuckling to myself. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. now I secretly owned the beach. . When she looked at me. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. 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. tan and fearless. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. because you do. “the little deer”. I was less in awe of the new chrome zippo. don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. I waved back and grabbed my bike. and I actually did better in math this time. We worked for a while. Even Bambi. I am the one who felt irritation. I used to be visiting that beach. Afterwards. This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me.I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. I would rather have died on the spot than shared anything I knew from the time I had spent with Francesca. She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand. . it was as if the world was coming together. My confidence had also increased. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in. I still enjoyed looking at him.
. aren’t we protective….Mrs. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church. and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. will ya? . There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. and one of the sailors spotted her. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. She took in the scene. and took off his hat. Simone’s favorite and mine as well.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. rum “baba”. 14 . Couples and kids were dancing. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. and smiled.My. She looked tan. Veronica. that Francesca agreed to join them. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry. with electric guitars and accordions. He came over. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake.And on we went… That night.Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. obviously obsessed by Francesca. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags. to thank her for taking such good care of us. on the village square. . Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. and younger than her thirty something years. d’Alessi. We had a great time. said Bambi. Francesca had a way of drawing people out. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. I know you… . Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us. over in the far corner. Good” and singing it in French. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. of course. was playing “Johnny B. Her presence was hard to ignore.You know me? And do I know you? . and no makeup whatsoever. as I went over to join Ondine.Lay off her. Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. Some local band. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti. . We could already hear the music from the terrace.
and Francesca said “Oh. So he finally stopped. sometimes. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography. That’ll make a nice front page. and some of the sailors joined us as well. and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s.What’s going on over there? . and some tourist amateur photographers. . I looked around for Francesca. . 15 . until he finally had to laugh. I said…still a little worried. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses. and we all started dancing in a circle. She nodded yes without answering. Francesca was a good dancer. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends. I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. if a little subdued and controlled. I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. executed in zombie like jerks. After a while. I don’t think Francesca was counting on this. so we danced like zombies together. Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. but I had not been paying attention.Is everything OK? I asked. and twirl me around. and it made me extremely proud and happy. pick me up in his arms. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. and soon he and I. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration. But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. I should have spotted the photographer and warned her. and seemed to be having a great time. and she was supposed to be incognito. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me. Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. . and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off. I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors. We all got up to dance with her.. I got up to greet her. The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling.Yes I am.Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors.I guess it’s OK with her.Christine! You’re almost cool. . She walked over to our table.
I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. and twirled away back to her room. It was very dark and still warm. “Y todo a media luz…” Francesca was singing in Spanish “que es un brujo el amor”…then she hummed to herself for a little bit “que suave terciopelo. and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango.At some point. as if at some grand event. . so I could guide her on the trail. As we said goodnight. carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow. la media luz de amor…la la la”. so I waved at my friends from afar. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. I did not want to leave Francesca alone. Myriads of stars were out. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes. and then was quiet all the way back. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. She kissed me on my right cheek. she took my hand. We could still hear the music coming from the square. no moon yet. sweetie… . and we started walking home. .I need to go home. You just wait and see… She looked excited.Christina. 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. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight. I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. . and we could hardly see.Buona notte. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much. Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water! 16 . . We got back to the house safe and sound.But Mrs. At some point.
. pillows. My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel. and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor. un minuto per favore…”she said. it would be fine with her to take the Nostromo out. Felipe agreed. Then. It lived in the harbor. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. including my mystery book of course. sheets. After my parents separated. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then. She was smiling and joking. my mother decided she hated the sea. is this true? . wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities. some pots and pans. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. 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. .She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. and we were packing essentials for overnight. but she added that if Mr. She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me 17 . I’ve done it before…I had done it.Yes. I had a few occasions to go out on the boat. I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. Francesca looked ready. and taking me with her. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. “Felipe. blankets. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. As I was finishing breakfast. it looked like it was all set. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. The Nostromo was small. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women.Christina. The big duffel bag is where we kept all that was needed for an overnight on board Nostromo. Felipe says you can handle working the jib. sure. my parents’ sailboat. and she instructed me to go and get it.As I walked out. less than 30 feet long. I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother. says Francesca. She turned to me. with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. but it was a beautiful. Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement. . and a striped sailor shirt.Do you know where the “big bag” is. for the boat? I did indeed. seaworthy.
and nothing seemed to come easily. with skin the color of light rosewood. and we were off. She was slender and strong. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. I tried not to stare at her. in a tribute to her natural beauty. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. with calm seas and a soft breeze. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun.everything step by step. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. and then I jumped from the bow. and she 18 . waved at him. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. but also intimidated to be out there. I poked around in the cabin for a while. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. Francesca started the engine. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. We did one clumsy port tack. The shackles were rusty with salt. There were very few other boats around. On the boat. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. almost alone with her. We dropped anchor. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. In the water. Finally. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. Fortunately. as I had not been sailing for a long time. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. Once we passed the jetty. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. and swam around with Francesca. She was a smooth. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. Then he helped us open the duffel. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. it was time to sail. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. easy swimmer. Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. ideal for apprentice sailors. I felt privileged. she was all fluidity and elegance. I was nervous. This put the breeze at our back. drinks in hand. he pulled out the plank. When she came up from diving. It looked like a perfect day though.
Too many people… . I’ve had them all at one point or another. and we sat on the deck side by side. have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? . The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood. the icky ones.What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes.No. . In it. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting. that they miss the ray altogether. But it’s all right… 19 . other than yourself.Christina. and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream.Well.No. and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds. because you can be many different people. Coming back up.The common wisdom is that acting is great.But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play.And do they get to see it? I looked at her. though. Not to be on public display like that… . When she explained something.I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. They are so into each other. they are not foreign to me. Does it bother you when people recognize you? . they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings. she truly talked like an Italian. But I always think my job is to act. the good ones. . the scenery was breathtaking. with all kinds of hand gestures.You seemed to be OK last night. It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time. Francesca was asking: . She handed me my drink. the desperate ones. . I’ve known them all. The sun was half way gone. it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly. . . And all they see is love…the light of love. but I have read the novel by Jules Verne. to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands.made Pastis for both of us. watching the sun go down.
Francesca looked genuinely moved. My father and I would go sailing all the time. I wanted to know everything about Francesca. I love Tomaso.Che bello…what a beautiful story… We were quiet and looking into each other’s eyes all of a sudden.And he doesn’t mind? . Just like in the story. and I had a little bit of rose wine.What is it that makes someone a great lover? .How come you know how to sail like that? . She got up and decided to make dinner. .I don’t know for sure. California. but we are not really physically in love with each other anymore. but it was only something from a book. Then. I do. . I was determined to direct the conversation. I was the one who looked away first. . .Does your husband know about Tomaso? .Hmm…sometimes. So.Yes he does. while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove.Well. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind.My family lives near Naples. She had made another batch of Italian pasta.Do you still live in Naples? .Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? . but most of the time we live in Malibu. She had mentioned her husband. but he is not the marrying kind.Do you…huh…do you love your husband? . He is a good friend and a great lover. . but no green ray was showing up. I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . I love him very much. to find that the sun was at the green ray point.No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then.. and it opened the door to more important questions. people like me and my husband love each other. I have Tomaso.Yes. let me see… 20 . I was sailing alone when I was about your age… .
And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! . I said.I don’t know.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with.Yes.Yes.Well. I was still on the attack. like. believe me. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you.Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are. it feels very good…but I think in the long run. you know. . .Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive.She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! .What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question. She is beautiful.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it. You would love her too… . don’t you think? . . I was remaining silent. She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me. . so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me. trying to wrap my mind around all of this. I do. fiery. .Yes. I am. .Bambi says you sleep with her. it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew.You love a lot of people.You’re in love with Selena? . Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. I’m in love with Selena. but I think he read it somewhere. and Indian. That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her. she is…too good maybe. . Anytime I can. but I appreciated her effort.Do you.Well. make love with Selena and all that stuff? .Is that good or bad? .What about Selena Hirschberg? . however. You are not left alone out there. . 21 .
and floated on our backs looking at the stars.Yes sweetheart.Yes now! Come on. Betelgeuse. Francesca was listening intensely. the Medium Bear. hardly making a splash. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters. I could hear night birds flapping their wings. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium. I took off all my clothes as well. It all seemed like a dream. all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. my heart is full…but there is always room for more. she suddenly got up. I could see Francesca floating on her back. . .Tell me more… Sirius. . So.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm. you know. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me.. We swam a little far from the boat. Cappella. at least some of them… I started naming them. that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. Oh.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting. There I was.Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . and the stars began to fade.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. She laughed. I was saying the names in French. the Little Bear.Let’s go for a swim! . and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual. she proceeded to take off all her clothes. I thought…I’ve got to do it. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves.Yes. Rigel. Arcturus. Vega de la Lyre. . looking at the sky. Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me. Orion. I could not see her very well. The water felt incredibly warm. On saying this. Out from behind the cove. . There were so many stars. the Big Bear. but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this. Goldilocks… I was making them up. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid. I do. this was the life…indeed… 22 . I was floating too. and to dive head first from the boat into the night. .
Once the moon was up, the cool breeze also rose, and we decided to get back onto the boat. Fortunately, I had left the little ladder unfolded at the stern. Francesca went up ahead of me. The drops of water on her body were like glitter in the moonlight. I could see the chain around her waist. - Do you know where the towels are? I did, and I got them for both of us…We dried off inside the cabin, and closed the door. Inside, the light was soft, and since we had already made the bunk beds, they looked cozy and inviting. I went into the little bathroom to brush my teeth, and then settled down in my bunk with my book while Francesca took her turn in the little bathroom. The boat was gently rocking, making creaking sounds and I could hear the waves licking at the hull. I liked that a lot. I was imagining that we were miles away from civilization. Me and Francesca, we were alone on the ocean. She came over and sat on my bunk, she was still naked, her shoulders wrapped in her towel. She took my hand. - You are a wonderful kid, she said. Then she bent over and lightly kissed me on the lips, lingering just a little. When she stopped, I was bathing in the light of her smile and my heart was beating faster. She was still holding my hand. Without thinking, I brought her hand to my lips and kissed it. - You need to be happy, my sweetheart… As she said that, my eyes started blurring with tears. I could feel uncontrollable sobs welling up in my throat. She lifted me from the pillow, and held me for a long time. “…there… there…” she was saying, rocking me gently. “There, my angel…May your dreams guide you to happiness”. In between sobs I kept trying to say “but I am happy”, but I don’t think anything intelligible came out. When the storm finally subsided, I realized her neck was drenched with tears, and I pulled back. I used a corner of her towel to dry her, and she gently patted my swollen eyes with another corner. We were so close; I could feel the warmth from her skin like a heat lamp. She took a tissue from the little night table in between the bunks, and handed it to me. I blew my nose, and greedily grabbed her hand again as I lay back down. I was looking at her face in wonder. I was taking in her beauty and trying to slow down my breathing. She stroked my hair and my cheeks for a while. Her touch was calming and electrifying at the same time. She kissed both my eyes and my
lips, soft as a feather. Then she kissed my hand, as she was letting go of it to get up from my bunk. I was still trembling, as she lay down on her side and turned off the light, whispering “good night, sweetie…go to sleep…lots to do tomorrow!”. I turned toward the wooden wall in my bunk. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, and the water against the hull. My breathing was still shallow and I was shaking for no reason that I could think of. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, I settled down, and turned around to face inside the cabin. The moon had risen even higher, and moonbeams were crisscrossing through the portholes. I could see Francesca sleeping with abandon, looking so vulnerable with her arms up on the pillow like a baby. She had kicked off the sheets, and her body seemed to be translucent in the moonlight. I would have given anything to have the nerve to cross over, and lie down next to her, holding her tight, and feeling her skin against mine, her hair against my face. I watched her sleep for quite a while. As she shifted in her sleep, each movement was one more expression of beauty. How can anyone be so perfect and not be cruel, obnoxious, or dead? I caught my eyes closing on their own, and I eventually drifted off into sleep with dreams of ocean waters and endless voyages through comfort and love. Day Six When I opened my eyes, it was late. The hatch was already open and sunshine was pouring in. I could see part of Francesca’s leg outside, she was already up. I could smell coffee in the little kitchen area. The boat was gently rocking and I could tell it was going to be a slightly cooler day. I got up, folded the sheets and put them and the pillows into the duffel bag. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then went up to meet Francesca in the bright light of the morning. “Good morning, amore mio!” she said, “here is some breakfast for you”. She had cut melon and strawberries into little cubes, made some toast and buttered it, and arranged everything neatly for me on the placemat on the folding table. As we prepared for departure, I was literally floating…not cautiously stepping on the deck, but gliding, swinging around the rigging like in a Hollywood musical. Francesca and I smiled at each other a lot. At some point, I hoisted the jib and dangled from the deck to undo a line that was caught. I saw a look of concern on her face but I looked back and waved. She smiled and blew a kiss in my direction. She kept calling “amore, let’s
go, ready about!” “amore mio, let’s do another one”, and with every call, I turned into a better sailor. The sea was a little rougher on the Western side of the island, but by then, we were a well tuned seafaring team. She was my skipper, and I was her first mate. I was flying about the deck adjusting this, tying that, tightening, loosening, until the boat was steadily breaking the waves, full and by, panting at a good clip. Francesca held the wheel with her feet, and leaned back into the sunlight. I lay down on the cushions in the wheelhouse, and rested my head on her leg. I could see the white mainsail and the sky, and with every lift of the boat, I could feel the pressure of the muscles in her thigh. Every now and then, she would gently stroke my hair. I would look up at her and she would smile at me. It was like time had stopped, and the world was nothing but this infinite sky, dark blue sea and the wonderful isolation of our small sailboat… “Amore, it’s time…one last starboard tack to home…” I got up, she sat up at the helm, and we executed our last tack perfectly. I sat at the bow with my legs dangling, watching the harbor approaching as we encountered more boats and waved at them. I started furling the jib, and then we brought down the mainsail as the boat was gracefully turning in a circle. She started the motor, and we entered the little harbor, as I was lowering the bumpers. We had been gone for weeks, it seemed. I was arriving in a foreign country, an exciting new land. The small harbor master’s building, the small flotilla of white fishing boats once familiar, were like a discovery…a quiet side entrance into a new life. There was a large motor yacht in the harbor, the “Orion”, flying the colors of Greece in the guest slip at the far end of the dock. I busied myself doing all the chores I remembered from the last time I had sailed on the “Nostromo”. I folded the jib into the sail hold, and Francesca helped me wrap the mainsail into its blue protective cover. As I was swabbing the deck, a man was helping Francesca with the gangplank. He was dressed like a sea captain in a light opera, with white pants, a blue blazer and a white cap that he took off when he started talking to her. They were speaking English, but I could not hear what they were saying. As Felipe was walking toward us to get the keys, I took our bags out, locked the last hatch, and watched as the man hopped on a little golf cart, and sped off toward the Orion. I had left the big duffel in the cabin. Felipe said he would bring it over later, and we walked off toward home. I was windblown, my skin was sticky with salt, my hair matted, but Francesca still looked like she had just stepped out of a giant clam shell like Botticelli’s Venus.
good…should be fun. . I loved the look of her skin. I was distressed. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. the Greek billionaire.. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. and I was not even truly an adult. I lay down for a long time. I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment. mainly about love. he is on the list to finance my next film. Ah. 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. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor. He came to the island on the Orion every now and then.You know Christina. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. her eyes. I was pedaling with a vengeance. . but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. 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 maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat.Ah. and how I had hoped she would never pull away. She would have taken my hand. I brushed off the pine needles. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. I would much rather stay with you. that was Stavros Spanodakis. as Bambi would say. without having to walk the bike. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there. This was my last evening with Francesca. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. I slept for a while. her hair. The production company would love for me to give him a little push. and almost made it to my favorite spot. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys. There we had been. There we had 26 . carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked. I was not a lesbian.Sweetie. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. I loved Francesca. a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. a dyke. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. and I could still feel her lips on mine.
I could not really see anything and I went back home. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca. Simone went to her little bungalow. She walked toward me. She was breathtakingly beautiful. 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. The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near. At the gate to the pier. It could be my mother. with me walking 27 . I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. After dinner. She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo. She was wearing turquoise earrings. I am purser for Mr. and turned and waved at Demosthenes.spent the night together. Next to her was Demosthenes. Spanodakis. on foot.Oh. in a white evening gown that brought out her tan.Allo? This is Demosthenes. Simone and I had dinner together. I will let her know. possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it.Yes? . No one can take this back. 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. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor. Instead. a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner. At around eleven. I said yes. But I could see there was light on the yacht. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. I was sure of it. all right. I could not help but smile… .La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. standing by the golf cart. When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. as I got off the bike and we started toward home. the phone rang. There we had truly loved each other. and gold sandals. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle. I saw Francesca. . .
how was it? I asked. . You can’t go wrong. . what do you think!? . then follow it. This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school. in mock annoyance. do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? .Sweetheart. It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… . She was giving me no details. She held mine in return. I reached for her hand across the table. as a matter of fact he did. . I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie. . Follow it all the way and don’t look back. I chose the best glass for Francesca.Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. So we sat in the kitchen. a red crystal one with cut designs. .Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. and poured her a nice tall glass. and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more.How do I know when something is really good? 28 . My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone. and I was feeling possessive. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness. The first thing she did was take off her shoes.Christina! No. please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked.Christina.No.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. . But you see.Yes. Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide. If it does. I am very thirsty.It was good.So.Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time. But she was still in charge. not really wanting to know… . I can say no. back to the house. . I wanted to take care of her. . of course not. I got some ice water from the refrigerator.the bike.
I will miss you too. and every sensation seemed amplified. that I had to breathe in and out. come on sweetie. I was holding her very tight. almost in a gasp. and it will keep. She kissed my neck. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. OK? She waited for my answer. I went out into the patio. She finished her glass and got up. My heart was light. I was looking at her. But what 29 . because it stays with you. As we were walking toward our rooms. You do something really good. as she gently released me. Tesoro. I did too. . though you don’t always know it at first. my angel. I was not sad anymore. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room. When I joined them. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air. .You know it. and I could imagine her. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. it sticks to you. it was time to go to bed. . but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good. to remain within me forever. You drink too much. I wanted this being that I had become today.OK.I will miss you. I could hear the night crickets. trying to understand what she was saying.Oh my…said Francesca. She went into her room and closed the door. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark. It never goes away. you can take it with you anywhere. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. The sensation was so strange and so powerful. just below the ear. I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. but I knew she was there. I said. the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me. Sleep was entirely out of the question. it feels good.. a strange energy was running through me. too fast. . trying to never forget.
it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca. At 10:30. so were Ondine. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. she waved at the crowd. Francesca was very gracious as usual. the postman. the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. I saw Bambi. and kissed them all on both cheeks. I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. I looked at the speedboat. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat. When we parked by the wharf. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap. and off they went. cameras in hand. and then I will fly to Los Angeles.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile. it rose up like a rearing horse. and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. Then she came to me. . when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. disappearing behind its own wake. Jean-Remy and their parents. to Toulon. Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva. and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . then Paris. while she sat next to the driver in front. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. Mr.Oh. and whispered in my ear.Where are you going now? . the chrome step. The reporter from Nice-Matin was there. 30 . 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. closest to the speedboat. warmer to my heart than a thousand suns. Next to them. the varnished wood. I was the last one. I did not quite know what the adventure was. When they passed the jetty. Veronica and their parents. but I knew that it had turned me upside down. the one policeman of the island. She gave me a hug. With Bambi. She went to my friends. and I could swear I saw him blushing. . I helped load her bags in the back.Well. after she kissed him. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago.
How good was she. I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her. But I was determined not to cry. Selena was indeed very beautiful. In St. and my eyes were stinging.Felipe. we sat on the crowded beaches.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . talk to her. One night. Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. favoring swimming and walking alone. Tropez. gossiped and drove around with the older kids. and we all went to see it. When my mother called. That’s what it means.It means “I love you”. really? The love scenes were light and tasteful. I just want to know what it means… . . walk with her. I asked him. . I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. I read it somewhere. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg. When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. When no one was around to distract me. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. with long black hair and very intense black eyes. I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia.No one…no one told me. I kept imagining Francesca instead of 31 . I could swim with her. We went dancing until dawn. go home and join her son in Vendee. I was in a trance. Simone was sad to see me go. She agreed. and shook his finger at me. to being with my friends. in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre.I had a big lump in my throat. and decided that I needed a change of pace. but was happy to be able to close the house. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. Tropez. I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed.
and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. When you love someone who is in the public eye. I don’t really remember… Finally. This part of my life was over. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. just as I had escaped the island for St. My mother was not very forthcoming. 32 . There. though I very seldom spoke to him. Tropez two years before. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. Guillaume. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. He himself also lived in Rome. I thought of writing to Francesca. 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. including my mother who finally came back. Many times. However. and since I never heard from her. or a famous cop. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer.the male protagonist. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. and we all returned to Paris. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. They were separated and they had no reason to keep them. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. the summer wound down. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. or a saint. I went to see all her movies. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. or maybe calling her. read about her. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. I grew shy about contacting her. And so I did. Every once in a while. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. I went back to school. Yet. and often saw her on television.
and said that of course we would attend.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. I was surprised and excited. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. she said. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. I enjoyed the drive. and checked in. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. I wanted to look as good as possible. I could not believe it. Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. but I hate the Festival. I was secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. I was flabbergasted. One morning in May. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris. I did not know what to expect or what to think. and if so. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. the phone rang. to put it mildly. put on my dress. except maybe books and films. After all these years. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. . and 33 . I left early in the morning. 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. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. I was eighteen years old. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. all by myself. on the day of the screening. I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. I went to the hotel. their conversations and their sexual games. She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. I did not have time to enjoy the room. and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. I picked it up.Sorry. as it was already time to go to the screening. I had flirted. and to please thank Francesca for us. I picked up my ticket at the will call. I had friends. but the task had seemed daunting. I took a quick shower. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes. I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother.
only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. some woman came over to me. back then… As the end credits rolled. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. the crowd roared and applauded. and she was good. 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. She was very popular in France. and how little I had given her in return. There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. I was happy to be there. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. to have come all this way to honor her. It was a great success. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd. everything. Suddenly. There were no love scenes. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. the dress. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty. She always drew people to her. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. thinking of all she had given me. The director came to take a bow. and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. and then I saw her. some of them I had met before. and she gave me the suite number. the drive. I had a brief moment of guilt. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. but none of them would ever recognize me. The scene inside was exciting. it was all worthwhile. I got to 34 . I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time. and walking on the Croisette. as she walked toward the stage. especially since she had left Hollywood. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. Finally. She was surrounded with people and photographers. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. after the screening. This was my first time at Cannes. but had never brought me with them. I was only interested in one of them. My parents had gone often. She saw me. and I kept bumping into people. That was fine with me. I had to cross to the beach side. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. Francesca was on screen most of the time. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. The film was harsh and violent.
I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. He looked at me and we both laughed. I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. and asked me if how I knew Francesca. and our hands touched. and an elegant older man opened it. His name was Oliver Schneider. He sat next to me on the couch. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne. about California. Oliver. She had to move into the next room. and did not offer any more details. and various appetizing canapes. look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. I found him very attractive. and a charming manner. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. she called…come say hello to my Christina.Christina! Oh. I knocked on the door. . He was extremely handsome. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. We both reached out for the same one. and we started talking about the film. She asked me if I felt good about it. She caressed my cheek briefly. dressed in a tuxedo. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room. with straight longish brown hair. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older. At the second glass of 35 . They were going to distribute the film. and found the suite without getting lost. and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood. surrounded by people holding champagne flutes. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. and then took my hand. but he made me feel at ease and welcome. She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything.the hotel. Dio mio. Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. and we had a few private minutes to talk.You must be Christina! He said… I feel like I know you already! Come on in…I am Marco d’Alessi. . but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human. . and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together.Oliver.Sorry. She gave me a hug. At some point. . He held out his hand.
right by the water. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. he would turn to me. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. Every now and then. I was a little bit nervous. Most people had left. I said yes. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. He opened it. on this most anticipated adventure. but I took it in all the same. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. We got up and went out on the terrace to look at the row of palm trees and the ocean sparkling in the moonlight.champagne I was beginning to feel good. and went down to the lobby with Oliver. I wanted it to happen. “You are so sophisticated!”. smile. We were reclining on the couch. We arrived at Eden Roc. and we 36 . I felt so glamorous and grown up. he said to me. he said. little old me. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. I rented it…the company pays for it. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. It was a suite.Come with me to my hotel. But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. He took his key and we went down to his room. I knew he was wrong. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people. You’ll see. . and I did not see Francesca. in a convertible Bentley. Ten minutes later.Is this your car? . I kissed him back. then turned away to go back to the living room. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. and I could not imagine better circumstances. of course not. He came to us. and looking into each other’s eyes. I grabbed my jacket. the breeze was cool but not cold. Everything was perfect. Isn’t it great? It was. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. This dashing young man was taking me. He said that Francesca was very tired. I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. . and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. I said I would be there. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. and he kissed me very lightly. We were standing very close to each other.Nah. I was looking at him as he was driving. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. and said goodnight. and gently stroke my arm.
exciting sensation. He got back into bed. which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight. But then. I felt numb and detached. at the critical moment. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air. and then turned off the light as he undressed and I took off my underwear. and I went down. Oliver was kind and gentle. and went outside. but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. The pain was not too bad. he said. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it.Don’t worry…I will be careful. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me. I was shivering in the water.went out on the deck. . I was for a time. because I wanted to see everything. . as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries. There were no stars. Oh well. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little. Our glasses clinked for the toast. He undid my dress. I got up. 37 .No. I felt sticky and afraid to move. know everything and be fully present. I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position.Here’s to us. I thought. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat. I went back to the room. The water was cold. he got up and went into the bathroom. he said. . and the clouds were attacking the moon. . I was sorry that the lights were out. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. it had been very enjoyable. turned away from me. There was enough light from the hotel above to see that there were rock steps going into the water. I am not. At first. and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. “You have beautiful shoulders”. I was getting really cold. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. and then he kissed me.Are you taking birth control? He asked. Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. I started drifting off and isolating myself. we drank. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. Afterwards. whatever that was. So this was what made the world go round.
when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. When I woke up to the sound of the shower. We exchanged phone numbers. This morning. The sky was overcast. But can you come at 8:00 for breakfast? We realized we could get on a flight directly from Nice to Rome instead of going through Paris. and rushed to my room. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. and off we went. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. last night. . as I was going to drive back to Paris today. it was already eight o’clock. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. under the covers. and ran hot water all over myself. when he was returning to California. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. dressed in tennis whites. and I did not linger. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. It was five minutes to nine. He noticed my expression of dismay. I got up and was mortified to see that there was a blood stain on the otherwise pristine white sheets of the prestigious Eden Roc Hotel. I went into the bathroom.Oliver was still asleep. I led the conversation. and all kinds of trivial questions. He did not argue very much. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. but my mind was already with Francesca. so we left the top up. So he took me to the Martinez. and put on my travelling clothes. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. I took a shower. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. Somehow. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. this is Francesca. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. asking him where he was going. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. I know it is early. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. I picked it up. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. and we need to be at the 38 . I wanted to hide it from her. I picked up my key. Oliver came out smiling and handsome.
“You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach.Ciao Christina! . . and she disappeared behind it. once at the sign. Please come. Finally. . I could not see inside. Christina…but we need to go. way out there on the Croisette. I looked over to the other side. Marco was waving at me from the other side.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca.Sorry Francesca. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. The words came out of me on their own. sweetie…go for the good life. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. I was relieved. out of breath and disheveled. I was holding her very tight. as now my cheek was right against hers. . I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. uncontrolled. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. We can’t afford to miss this plane. The tinted glass was too dark. Francesca was calm as usual. There. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. I must have grown. but rushed and fell into her arms. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. to not have to wait for the red lights.airport at 9:30. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider.Don’t be sad. then glided on toward Nice. Francesca spotted me immediately. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. 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. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. I crossed over on the beach side. The window started going up. What I really wanted to do is go get the car.
I did not have my passport with me. I was in my car. I was just alone. I guess. driving to school. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. now that I was not only older. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use. My mother did not attend. looking despondent. I was in the middle of finals. As it turns out. I found solace in playing music and singing. I finished school eventually. but a real woman. and not mine. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. It was during a week of finals for me in California. with some other family members that I did not know. I had to find out her address. a languid feeling would come 40 . aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. And if so. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio. Francesca was their friend. I don’t think they would have been very supportive.with each other. I could swear in one of the newscasts. full of regret and unanswered questions. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. I did not attend. But I did not do it of course. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. I was so stunned. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. I saw Marco. I stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. but did not see him. Besides. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. Sometimes. I looked for Tomaso. and now. taller. after she had invited me. way back then. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. 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 think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. I hated taking birth control pills. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. then I would insist that we do something about it. 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.
. tell me life is good. amore. I had come to Paris. You can sit on the terrace and people watch.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. In my case.Life is good. tell me in Italian! . order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California. and I would imagine our dialog… . it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. in the chic part of Silicon Valley.Francesca. 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. or even write one if so inclined. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. with friends or alone. Francesca would be there with me. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. across from Le Bon Marche department store. -Tell me that you love me… . and to a semi-Californian it is always amazing to see and feel how animated the Paris streets are and how the passers-by. athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. to visit family and old friends. there are cafes. perfect. .I do…I love you. or read a book. where I was born. It was a beautiful sunny day. on that warm day in June. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. Here in Paris. or cool. There is no implication of the place being special. and an eventual movie. no.over me to assuage my loneliness. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way. or inhospitable for any reason. even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 .No. In California where I live.
it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. 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. Besides. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. weathering flashes of interest. There were pigeons everywhere. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. I knew a lot about them. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. men or whooping cranes. started interfering with my side of the conversation. like grey fruit ready to be picked. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. or even in San Francisco. show or otherwise. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. and the thought of her. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. I don’t believe they were really interested either. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats.the crowds in Hollywood. wavering. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. After she left me. leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. insidious. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. and Marie liked it. 42 . I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me.
We were sitting at the narrow end of it. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace. I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. and to be present in the conversation. She looked at me very briefly. Her book was still there. I had seen the movie long time ago. across from the doorway. as if I was on stage. and she had beautiful. she was smiling while looking in my direction. She came back very soon. huge green eyes. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. and even though it was not really elegant. I started telling the story. The anecdotes kept pouring in. willing my thoughts away from California and back here. unlike Marie. at the terrace of the Babylone. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. He was asking me questions about a common friend. it made her face look exotic. She was drinking a café-crème. put on her Ray Bans. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. The terrace was fairly empty. and how I had met her. and pursued the conversation. She got up and went inside. 43 .I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something. and they could do no wrong. the woman looked remotely like Marie. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. a woman was sitting. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. George and Francine were in stitches. Next to us. here it was again. He hates it. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. Marie had a straight Greek nose. facing the rounded sidewalk. She did not look like Marie in the least after all. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. Her expression was soft and bright. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. The woman was thin. I felt some relief. and the audience hates it too. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. Unbelievably. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. She sat down. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”. as if during an intermission. She was reading a book. which I did with some success. make it wild and funny.
and shady characters. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. There I was right here in the land of my youth. beige oversize canvas handbag. and I rushed into the station. I hopped on. Here. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. Just like that. in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. But the train was prompt and ready. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. tight black pants. grey sweater. I got up too. we were gone. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. Then before I even knew it. I am in love. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. I thought. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. We said goodbye again. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. nuns. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat.My heart started pounding. and white tennis shoes. ready to 44 . George and Francine were getting ready to leave. as if in a dream. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. their favorite mode of transportation. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. We came back. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. The insane. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain. This is ridiculous. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. in this café. But that was precisely what attracted me. that I would have these feelings here. secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. in Paris. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. and the woman this time did not look up. I took in the white collar. and my mind was racing all over the place. old people.
here I am. and it was all for a reason. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. what if? Chapter Two The train. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. She is tres amusante!”. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. 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. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. Everything happens for a reason. which would also make me very uncomfortable. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. I’ve read all her books. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. and if things did happen for me. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. for the first time since losing Alison. Besides. By the way. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. In a foreign language. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. where I belonged. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. What to do? What if I came back to the café. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. I automatically assumed the woman was French. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way.
it is dark. but walking very fast. and I bought the band where I live. I come back up. The escalator. where does it come from? . in California. I’ll have a café crème. I’ll run into George and Francine. Ten past four. Up the stairs…No. 46 . God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. She is still there. .Excusez moi… She spoke to me.Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. -No. It smells bad. with an empty café crème in front of her. I sort of designed it. pretending to make a phone call. at the same table where I was with George and Francine. She still has not looked up. I can go twice as fast.running. I see the waiter bringing stuff. tennis or not. I said in French. s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. Besides. 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. but she spoke to me! . but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps.J’aime votre montre. and said: . here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. and that is good. she will be gone. but I have lived there for twenty years.Well. In French as I feared. I sit down at the terrace.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. What do I do now? The waiter comes.Quatre heures dix. mind you. I’m not. If I go fast. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch. if I wait any longer. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. Downstairs. and she is reading the book. asking me what I want. It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… . and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. she can leave anytime. Up. He does not seem to recognize me. Someone gave me the face as a present. up. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it. I said in English also. I was all wrong. . I walk past her and go inside the café. out into the sunlight. She does not look up. If I go slowly. but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before.
I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever. yes? . and it gave her a visa. no calculation. and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home. and I was not nervous anymore. -Linda. Linda said. and whom I still cared about a great deal. This man and this woman meet in a café. this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately. and it’s the end. I explained to her my situation. We laughed together. 47 . Her name was Linda. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. seemed to have trouble swallowing. it is very short. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. And then it came. I am one. nothing happens. -Hi Christine. I introduce myself to her. warm and maybe a little sad. an easy. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. my failed music career. She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. my work at the theatres. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time. She took off her glasses and put down her book. . She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations. I’m glad to meet you. cheerful laugh. let alone working with the ones we love…She too. Right now. fast and easy. My name is Linda. there was a lull in the programming. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. she said.Well. The conversation flowed very easily. at the beginning of June. she said.Oh. I am from New York.You speak French beautifully. She did not look like Marie at all. I said. but it paid well. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. with no warning. I said in pure American ritual. mind you. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends.. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. I said: -Oh. she was from New York. no preparation. Her smile was absolutely devastating. She was beautiful.
48 . define it. and who paid for what. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task. like movies and books. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men. wiser. simply. and still not die a horrible death in the end. and said: -If that’s OK. and shook her head.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. or the woman who managed to be proven right. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. strong and true. it’s all the same. I wanted to understand everything. I looked at my mountain watch again. I was supposed to go visit a friend. I had been brave. and maybe I had just made a new friend. how. and how I liked most of his films. Four forty five. -Were you going alone? -Yes. gloriously. -Not really. as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. about Ridley Scott. 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. I said it half heartedly. and kinder. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine.Linda smiled. The street. . I’d like to go with you. I had come back to the café. how he created the character of Ripley. But. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. Here I was. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. women. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. open it up to the air. these days. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. and come out of it all happier. intelligence. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. but I have no real recollection as to when. Courage. So. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model.
and I felt like visiting royalty. it’s simple. I loved going to movies with Alison. then he met this Italian model. As I spoke. she said. and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. Julien and I were together for two years. it was better than nothing. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. She smiled. the houselights went down. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. and we went all the time. I asked. Once we were seated. I said. and I might as well find out the details. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends. Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. and the film itself was about to start. Sometimes. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. It’s no fun. 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. When the lights dim in a theatre. It was very exciting. but it’s very recent. Where did the train tracks use to be? I said I had no idea. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation. I said. and things are not yet very clear between us. The details were slim. there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. I did not feel nervous. But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute. -Not really. -I know the feeling. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. and now he is with her. My host was very sweet. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going 49 . I said that would be quite all right. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural. but that the ground floor was probably a safe bet! It took all my energy to keep connected with the environment enough to pay for the tickets and reach our seats. -Oh. -What happened with your boyfriend. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. because I did not have any expectations. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. If we could be friends.I was taken aback by the request.
including love. As we walked out into the still sunny street. Thank you very much for letting me come along. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them. I have to run. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. and our cheeks would touch. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. it’s late. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. I turned to her and thanked her too. I’m having dinner with a friend. in a strange sort of way. She shook my hand formally. 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 rushed down into the Metro.I loved it. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the screen. It was only to look at my watch. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. The temptation was not far. Linda seemed to react. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. Equally seriously. you know” I did not have the time to answer. and I’m already very late. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. but I always kept it in check. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. The film was good. nice meeting you too. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. turned around. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes. It was very sad. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. -Oops. and while the plot was progressing. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone. At the end of the film.to movies again after she and Marie broke up. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any 50 . she grabbed my wrist. I felt like I knew her. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. but somehow exhilarating and empowering. violent at times. and where anything was possible including friendship. The whole experience was strange. because she stopped. -Well. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone.
nor exactly where she lived. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. just to have someone to go to the movies with. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. but it was too late. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. honey. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. nothing happens. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. why did I let this go? Why didn’t I have the nerve to ask when I could see her again? What could be the danger? If she was really straight. and very silently. I had vanquished my own passivity. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner. to keep my attention on anything. and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. cruelty or indifference. I did not know her last name. for once. 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. let them go. it’s on theirs too!”. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. But in a way also. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. it felt to me that I could be one of these. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. doesn’t appreciate you. They meet. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. then she would have wanted to. She would listen to me very patiently. and it’s the end. Now. I was. But these days. and anything 51 . except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. and not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. stupidly. I always found this to be quite true. In a way.plans.
and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me. What to do? And suddenly. Above all else. Then. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. you know. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. No big deal. Yet my feelings were so strong. 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. No. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. I can still fall in love. Well. Be remote. the next day. I had an idea. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. it was time for practical considerations. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”. she would be there. pleasure. When Marie left her. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. Yes. I always felt then. because I was open about my potential availability. and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing. and therefore undesirable. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. and that was why I liked her so much. 52 . It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. I could see her face. Bad timing. unattainable.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. I could go lurking there until she showed up. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. Here’s to you. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. she would contradict her previous statements. If there was some truth to all this. and that I was bound to lose every time. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. Marie-like nose and all. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow. and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. you said. maybe it was time for good timing now. and you will have everything. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. and we had gone to a movie together.
I am crazy. Something is going on there. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. “Village of the Damned”. but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. Don’t think about Alison. Yet there were crazy things that could be done. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. Maybe that was what life was all about. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. I kept trying to sleep.Or maybe she would not be there. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. What fun. Stop that too…One day. 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. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. and it still had that liberating. There is nothing going on there. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. Linda…I don’t even know Linda. uncertainty. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. “Thelma and Louise”. Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. Sleep. rebellious aura to it. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. and look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. and in between movies. Ah! But here I go again. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. Stop. 53 . Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. and every time I closed my eyes. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. risked. I’m not so hard to please after all. and not take any risks. It would give me something to do in the afternoons. Then. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. and the way I felt now. Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. 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. which I guess soothed me a little. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. in a nondescript café. I could never forget it. that gave you some power even though you had none.
this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. I started feeling better. Five past four. her loss! I will never see Linda again. Create something different with life. So here I was. and came back down to call a friend. Maybe she was a regular. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. 54 . Marguerite Duras.I woke up very early. It took forever to reach the bookstore. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. I’ll do what I can. go and go to the Babylone. and stared at everybody. Out on the street. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. I went upstairs. do it all. At least you tried. wait. No Linda. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. big deal. and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. OK. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. and everything was going to be OK. Brick walls were not necessary. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. Maybe rain was in the air this time. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. Maybe he knew her. different. lurk Rue de Nevers. Parking was going to be a pain. something unique and wild. Alison does not want me. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. Yes. spy at the TV station. I went in. I had the car today. What else is there in the world than unique. Besides. She was not there. My watch. It’s time. Too early. Besides. It was there all right. Worried about parking. let’s go up and see. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. OK. it was worth it. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. pretending again to make a phone call. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes. Pocket books? Yes. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. through the store almost running. Francoise had advised me to go. that would be fun. My mountain watch. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. She will tell you to get lost and you will. Ha ha. it was three thirty. look stupid and not know what to do with myself. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. Look up the listings. Maybe she was inside. It was cloudy today. I walked up the stairs. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. to have breakfast with my mother. I must have slept for three hours all and all. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. I went down to the telephone. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. but not on the shelf. Friends were the only solid value these days. Oh well.
I cannot wait any longer. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. and this time. That’s that. and decided to go to the café. I checked the Pariscope for films. It seemed forlorn and deserted. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. pretending that I was someone else than I was. and I ordered a sparkling water. I think from the inside of the café. theatres. dejected. Quarter to five. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. Here’s a bookstore. drove the car out. The car was the other way. Like that. No one was there. I was going to be a normal person. a once in a lifetime spot. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. I was. however. a fool all the way. I bought the book. and just start reading it. The next morning. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. I looked at my watch: four thirty. but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. Twenty past four. I had the car again. since I was so tired. Here it is again. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. I slept better than the night before. I did not even look at anything. I went and enjoyed the film. furious at her. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: “So you are a regular here after all!” I 55 . careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. but what the hell. just in case. at everything. be real. here it is second shelf from bottom. even though I did not quite understand it. and sat at the terrace. too late to go to the Babylone. Come on. Alison. The irony was just perfect now. The waiter came. and had a good time. I have too much to do. It was all a ridiculous fantasy. Linda. Let’s waste some more time.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. I went to a friend’s house for dinner. on your right. walking in that general direction. That’s far enough. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot. and schedules. I had parked it on the street. have lunch with some members of my family. and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I went back down into the parking lot. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content. I will not come back tomorrow. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. I had my day organized in such a way. I had seen everything. all these figments of my fertile imagination. Forget it. It was too late. a fool with Linda.
I have to meet someone for work now. . as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag. I knew I had bought it for a reason. Her manner of approach was not very varied. I laughed. I had forgotten their power. not really. intelligent.Well.Yes. Her smile hit me again.No. She laughed. It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the 56 . and touched my arm gently.I’ll tell you what. interesting and interested. Now is the time to enjoy things.Well. lugging that huge bag.Five o’clock. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. Here it was! It was late.See you then! She was gone. Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating. soft. Linda said as she sat down next to me. I won’t stand in the way. “What time is it?”. everything fell into place. all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say. I felt so incredibly strong. and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. . What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling. and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. exciting. it was like the world. she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. I was hoping to find you again. I did not know how to get in touch with you.No problem. Are you a regular here? . but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half.was too shocked to answer anything at all. I am. Her eyes were made of cool green. I’ll be here! She got up. as a matter of fact. looking straight into my eyes. This is what was meant to happen. Yet here she was. with no shirt collar underneath. . the universe. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. . . but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up. She looked great. I turned around. . A joke… What a joke. Life is really starting now. soothing. and it is happening. maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! .
I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. I liked it. But what if. The narrative was ominous. I wonder why Linda was reading it. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. in some strange way. dead wrong. that woman is obscure. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. I should know. I won’t disappoint you. to think that one could replace the other. and tried very hard not to think for a while. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. Not everything should be explainable anyway. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. like Katharine Hepburn used Elizabeth Taylor in “Suddenly Last Summer”? Maybe she was trying to get her boyfriend’s new girlfriend interested in women so she would leave him alone? I was getting goofy and was thinking of ordering some alcoholic drink to calm my nerves. but it won a major award. God. I said to the preciousness of the moment. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. Alcohol. what if Alison was just a con artist and in Marie she had found a soul mate? What if I was really the intruder and did not know it? What if Linda was only using me as bait. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. I was happy to see that all and all.present. and if she was. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. but no one can really explain to you what they are. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. and that it was wrong. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. like everything else is good in small quantities. I guess that’s possible. who was she anyway? Can we really instinctively know if people are good on first impression? I could tell from a mile away that Marie was operating on a level that was different from the one I was on with Alison.
heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. I was rambling on and on. I did not hate it. I’m sure. Here’s the waiter. nothing ever works for us.everything. Everything seemed to come very easily around her. with battlements and all. and I was careful to pay right away. . and the people were walking out of the Bon Marche with bags and packages of all kinds. before I even had the time to really worry… . The pigeons seemed to have calmed down. But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me. Should I prepare for good things. getting slightly crazy. what does one do? Light a cigarette.“Moderato Cantabile”. It’s OK. 58 . Ah. so I don’t have to wonder anymore. 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. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. I was not hungry. and ask me to dinner out of the blue. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great. The brick wall was in place. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. just in case I had to leave fast. Somehow.I was curious to read what you were reading. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me. she’s beautiful. and then. Linda is coming back soon. not thirsty. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight. but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. suddenly she was back. I was starting to feel a little bored. 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. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. It may seem like a long time now. What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. everyone is all of a sudden always younger than you. that’s how long it takes. She smiled as if she understood. especially in love. forget it. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. We’ve all got bad luck. ten if you really nurse it. But when you get to be forty. money and fame. Five minutes. I did! What a relief.
listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. . feel somewhat connected. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun. nothing. Pastis . Linda laughed. . I was nervous. I had looked at her. This woman loves me and I love her. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again. and we had a nice conversation about these drinks. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. I had thought.Where shall we go? It was early still. and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. all of a sudden. without water or ice. the liquor of oblivion. and you can make it just the right strength. Alison…Alison. This is life. and I remember forcing myself to like it. the bastard sons of absinth. Pastis . Her face was soft and gentle. . for the first time since we had met. She was sitting on her haunches. I offered. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. I was far from hungry. I felt shy. light.. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule. We had done pretty well going to the movies. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. 59 . Ricard or Pernod. She heartily agreed and we went inside. We needed something to link us together. but never explained by schoolteachers.What’s going on? I lied.Oh. The thought of going now seemed impossible to me.It is still early. I think I’ll have a Pastis. I had something to lose. but this was different. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant. at some point during my adolescence. made from various plants including artichokes. Linda was looking at me in a strange way. why don’t we just go inside and have an aperitif before it’s time to go to dinner? I need to shift gears after spending all this time alone with Marguerite and her wishy-washy characters. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up. Tailor made. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet. diluted in water is refreshing. It used to be in vogue.
I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. I said. tell me more about yourself… 60 . trimmed nails. Songs. where is home now? Linda was explaining something.I was so busy yesterday. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. thin fingers.It looked like mud. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. I was amazed at the effect she had on me. poems. In the open. . because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. Everything was just fine. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends. with long. at least in my thoughts. daring and devastatingly original. Home…I guess California was home to me now. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. Hell. She was looking up. as far as I knew. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. . everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. and one silver ring on the right hand. I can only kiss your shadow. and she kept pushing it back. smiling. Work was not really work. I’m glad I had some time today. Yet. everything was always new and exciting. Alison was home. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship.So. 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. It was getting dark. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight. “As the room is softly fading. It felt great to watch her do that. or will she send me a note ten years from now. describing it all with great hand gestures. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. I said she could never have a Fernet ever. I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. and still live a perfectly happy life. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence. I worked for ten hours in a row. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it. I was letting myself stare at her. saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles. and I had nothing on her. Her hands were beautiful. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye.
as she asked me about my parents. Both her parents were still alive. So. as if anything we shared 61 .Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette. who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant. but I didn’t go. I’m not a power seducer.No. to meet me halfway. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas. give me some clue… . and all that. as my father had passed away a few years earlier. Christopher. and the drinks were giving us a nice buzz so we decided it was time to go to dinner. For some reason at first. where we went to school. not at all. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. and religions are full of them. I only had my mother. As I was telling her everything I could think of. I learned bits of trivia about her. and her last name was Christoforos.Oh. Take a couple of steps.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. Linda. and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”. That’s the fun part. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. We paid and got up.Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . patron saint of transportation. I felt better than I had in years about them. Sorry. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. oh no. One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her. Hell. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. but that I would do it for her sake. so I have none to tell. as in St. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… . On and on we went.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ. I just like all these legends and stories. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. where they came from. . I need the other person to be a part of it too. the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless. There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns. It did not really matter to us whose family had money. and she learned some about me. third generation American.
and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. or “I won’t”. convention. and if it is not you it won’t be you. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. Can you read 62 . I shall love who loves me. I would reply that I could go either way. as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. whom I love more. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. We had the evening ahead of us. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. unable and unwilling to change and create new possibilities? We can do anything if we learn to notice and appreciate our gift for happiness. and the best was yet to come. our history was like a curse. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. I had no history with Linda. yet none of it meant anything to her. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. we were laughing at everything. as if we were saving ourselves for later. history. and I knew it was the beauty from inside. 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. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing anything. always seem to win out. She would shut me up. She looked just fine. But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. because they don’t already know me like you do”. It seemed that to her. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. staring at me softly with no fear. the one that was beyond looks. but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. How is it that our lives are so strange? That proclaiming that we are screwed up is like a final pronouncement that leaves us feeling like half beings. and will never lead to anything”.contributed to bring us closer. our familiarity the kiss of death. Alison. and I would go home feeling powerless. the mahogany and green. as we were walking into the Closerie. Getting to the car. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. It meant “Your love is a waste of time.
Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. . Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other. Linda was looking at the menu. but a regular if expensive commodity here. a song I could definitely identify with. Next thing I know. Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. and Linda turned back to me smiling. and we are both going to leave and say goodnight.What’s happening? I asked. I was trying to overhear their conversation. but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way. a great luxury in California. the pianist was playing “Crazy”. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky. 63 . made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening. salads. he said au revoir. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten. Yet this time. after discussing the weather.Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! . which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night. and he was talking directly to me. We decided on oysters on the half shell. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. . The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. as if things were getting a little hard to handle.it too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat.Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out. Finally. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. and were given a very nice table on the verandah. and I had developed an aversion to them. but with a desperate sigh.
I was puzzled at myself. 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.What do you mean Lindy? I said.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. 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. Come clean.He calls you Lindy? . designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. nothing. He is a friend of Julien’s. . . and that look set everything back on track for me. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers. I like it better than Linda Louise. she said. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look. that’s Pierre. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. that’s just it. I don’t happen to know you very well. and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. you know. it’s funny. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time.Here’s to the weirdness of life. that’s the only way out of this. and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be. She kept looking at me as she was drinking. Why did I have these feelings.. come clean. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting. and had not even introduced me to him. 64 . even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time.Yes. . Also.You know. . it sort of hurt my feelings.Well. . that’s how friends call me. I sighed and got a grip on myself.Oh. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. . remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. which did include a little bit of anxiety. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now.
and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole.But Alison was not boring. because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. care. But.You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… . . like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. Still. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. solid. as if anything he had to say would hurt me. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. his own problems with his girlfriend. Don’t. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet.. so he can help.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing. was she? . and delicate handling.I guess I am still angry at them. . or worse. I feel that we all need each other’s help. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude.But were there ever times when things were good? 65 . Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues. he did not say anything more about it. He just talked about himself. as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. superficial and boring. encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. just removed. But they don’t want the case solved. Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse. He sees Julien all the time. I shared some of these thoughts with Linda. It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone. . and beautiful.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. and especially why they did it. It felt as if she was already dead. whether it is romantic or not. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case. manipulative. It all sounded so familiar. and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend. as usual. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday.
She did have a gift for happiness. Alison was often languid. and an endless belief in the goodness of this world. She was not eating but was swallowing hard. and maybe this is why wine was invented after all. if they were good and true. in whole. the food arrived. and came out of it all sweet. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. could fuel the present with spirit. before Marie. as if the memory of past loves. Sexually. pure. I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. But when she was herself and connected. though… . unemotional. I can’t say I did not like it. passionate and elegant at the same time. I stopped talking. I described my joy at seeing her. she became soft. passion. and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. For some reason.Does it worry you that you liked it? 66 . wonderful madness. Alison. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. mainly marijuana. . she could be a hedonist. was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. vulnerable.It was hurried. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there.You know. that of the soul within. . Everything became magical. . she said. I told her about Yosemite. generous and seemingly invincible. the way her face would light up with youthful energy. . and full of questions. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective. a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. and was interested in everything.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly. 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.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. leaning her head to the side. beyond conventions. with unbelievable beauty. always mysterious. about Alison’s good sides from our past. Linda was staring at me intensely. emotionally unleashed.As she said that.
I tried to agitate some memories. I guess we did our best to communicate in a meaningful way! We stayed together at a friend’s apartment in Santa Monica for a full week. She told me that she hoped I was happy. disturbing dream. and started working for a TV station there. Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. She was with some guy. but we were both trying to ignore that power. I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful. movies. which had not in any way altered our reality. and I was kind of happy to see her. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. this and that. but I was more involved with the other one. I ran into her at a party. We had finished our food. .I went back to New York. because she was getting married the next week. and I just went on my merry way. but I decided that being honest and straightforward was the only way I was going to make the evening end well one way or the other. It was wild. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances. two.How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. . You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”. It was a little sad. to hide my fear of vulnerability.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. The champagne was almost gone.What happened after that? . especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured. plays. After all. Her name was Lisa. and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way. I met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. 67 . There was no music playing anymore. we were afraid to cross a certain threshold. it was in her past and not in her present. forget the whole thing. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them..Oh. . and all that. You know. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something. I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction. I was threading on thin ice.A little bit. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. . with a very loud laugh. Somehow. The first one only once. I was not with anyone at the time.
But I am probably kidding myself. I thought. . and how the grass was always greener on the other side. Maybe if I was Marie. until she finally gave in and kissed me. This says it all.I am sorry it ended like it did. I could not say: believe me Lindy. and how attractive they were. She said it always bothered her. but very self involved. I got it. The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize. Of course. It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between. and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her. you know. Julien was a good guy.I don’t know. and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. she said. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela. Come on fate. Give me something. and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. I realized how hurt I still was about Alison. . he had decided to cross over to the other side. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . He was a journalist of some kind. give me a break this time. We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us.Well not really. The tamer and the tamed. maybe I don’t either! I said.Would you want to get back with him? . Back off. Knock on wood. Lindy. back off. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. That would have been a lie. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja. and plant my face in front of hers. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. I would like him to come back so I could say no. and say: “Hey”.She took her time to answer. Finally. I guess. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. It must have been rough on you. loud and clear. and in the prairie. She went on talking about herself and Julien. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. . 68 . But I wanted my wild horses free. as in reality it was seldom like that. A bad sign. Not in the circus. OK.Well. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. Linda’s eyes were filling up. with women it is different.
I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. We were silent on the way to the car. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. I felt betrayed and cheated.It is very nice. just to be 69 . where I was to drop her off. sagging a little. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich. smiling and looking around too. I’d give anything to own it. that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. so back into hell I went. She came back upstairs. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. Sometimes. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. incredibly alone and rejected. was like giving in to the forces of evil. . I drove straight into the narrow passage. Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone.Here. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers. whichever way it would go. as if we both had the same impression. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. anxious about the way the evening would end. with an old doorway. and a code keypad to keep the burglars out. this is where I live! The building looked very old.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. and you have to live with your impression after that. When the reversal finally came however. and she did not seem too scared of it. Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway. to make this into a good. when we connected. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. You have to come see it some time. like a good antique. how forward can I be. it was comfortable. . maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. People seemed to be having fun. and we were ready to go outside. usually for a short time. and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot.
She suddenly got out of the car. We have to do it again. This was a lot of fun.Yes. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment.You take care too… She was gone. dead in its tracks. . fished the key out of her giant purse. . She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours. and headed for home. I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. California style hug. OK? . Was there anything I could have done to make this better and clearer? Was I cautious because of a correct instinct that I had to be very careful because of the lack of obvious invitation in her manner? Was I only careful because of my natural cowardice and homophobia? After all. I did too. take care… Her voice became very soft. The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. she turned to me and said: . None did. but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers. is get her phone number this time. I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. As the door opened. She went to the door. she said. I like the Babylone. I got back to the car. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on.Yes. our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to 70 . .Will you give me your phone number. . good night. as if I had cheated myself on something. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here. The least I need to do. and then gave me a good.Well. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building. In a panic. honest.Talk to you soon. it was just a hug. It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. I felt empty and incomplete. I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did. I held her tight. and give me yours too. let’s! I said. but all the same. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes. and it felt good.
This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. At times. and would only affect our lives negatively. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. by making some kind of a move. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. And also of course. But in the servants’ area. How I sat there 71 . screams. intellectual adventure you-name-it. the City of Light and Glamour. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. 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. It could have been great. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me. You could hardly hear the neighbors. right next to my ear. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. hurried steps. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. or at least a clear. In my mother’s building. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. After my dinner with Lindy. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head. with a common toilet for the whole floor. Otherwise. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum. honest verbal overture. The architect had thought it all out very well. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. freedom. he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin. Everything that happened in the hallway. (I now took the liberty of calling her Lindy to myself and it felt quite good) I had found it very hard to sleep and to make any sense of the whole adventure. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison. But the brick wall had a breach.come out and give their names openly. gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed.
she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. let’s get on with some real fun. and how unexpected…In Paris. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. 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. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. In fact. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. as long as I kept the messages true. There was some history that I had to contend with. she had sought me out. and made a point of showing me that I was always the last thing on her mind…How could she not treasure what we had and want to preserve it in spite of the Marie interruption which might have been a good thing in the end. if not always clear. Paris.laughing at her crude approach. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. and swear to be with me forever. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. until she finally would have to give in. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. On the other hand. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. Besides. Other times. with somebody else. If she did not. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. Maybe it was just 72 . then if nothing was gained. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. but definitely mutual. however. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. of all places. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element. She would come to me when she was ready. even if she knew what could happen between us. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. life is too short to stop yourself from doing what you want even if it is only for the moment!”. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. So far. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. nothing was lost either. she had already done the infamous deed. Yet to me.
all right. after our dinner. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. I kept myself busy. more movies. seeing friends and family. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. Have a good time. talking to them. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. Lindy Christoforos. Sunday came and went. You could prepare your message in your head. this is Linda. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. but if you would like to leave a message 73 . and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. I’m going to do it. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it. “Hello. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. The days went by. All right. Ruthie. you have nothing to lose. still nothing. yet totally unaffected. tsk. there is only one way to find out. and leave it on the machine. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. A bonanza for shy people. Here it was…An answering machine. and leave a lot to the imagination. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. straight woman in tennis shoes. and she hadn’t called.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. but it’s like the Lottery. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. Ruthie says: you might not win. and I almost had a couple of accidents. Should I give up on the whole thing? Why hasn’t she called? I kept wishing that I had an answering machine in Paris. If you don’t play. I cannot come to the phone right now. Go ahead. 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. American in Paris. These devices are great. No such luck. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. and started applying my methods for not thinking. I was dialing her number. lay off. saying only as much as was safe to say. as I had in California. without much success. husky. I felt discouraged.
I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. Oh well. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. I left my message in English. I was going crazy. and leave it to fate. “Hope to hear from you soon. and I don’t get anything out of it.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly. just like Alison. she is just like Alison. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. 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. then to dinner. we’ll see. I said. and tucked her cold feet back in. well I just had to go with that. Again. If she claimed not to be interested. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. and that there was none to waste. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. Please call me in the mornings. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart. Waiting for phone 74 . And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it. What an exotic. And at least. and later with Angela. I had come back to the café all right. Once more. but there was nothing I could do about it. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. the machine answered. I hung up. It would be a waste. First. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. She had picked me up. as she repeated the last part in French. Two days later. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. cover ups and rationalizations. things became more manageable. “I think we should talk about things a little more. she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. reluctant to leave my room. Second. and to not give in to disguises. I had not asked to start this. “après le bip sonore”. No call the next day either. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. I found myself dialing her number again. Hopefully. Once you had mastered step one. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. there was no other word for it. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. Please call me”. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. attractive voice she had. I hope everything is OK. The thought was infuriating me. please do so after the beep”.
she does not want me. . But things could be arranged… . she was ahead of me and surprised me. that there was no more hope. of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams. are you kidding? This is great. Well. dreams of rejection. adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. Then. . I said goodbye. We hung up. the phone rang while I was still half asleep. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. but after all she was not French. Once more. She did not seem afraid or disturbed. Saturday as in tomorrow. I enthusiastically agreed. “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . ha. Right.Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . deciding at times. Sometimes. It is the daily grind of the betrayed. “Same here” she said very sweetly.Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. early in the morning. especially now that I have your phone number again.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… . with a lot of Alison dreams. She does not know what she’s missing. and you are not listed.Fine. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being. I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband. I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. just for old time’s sake. . of disconnection. we’ll call you. and that was it. I slept with great difficulty. I kept myself busy all day again. ha. Don’t call us.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. It was Lindy.Yes.You mean tomorrow? . 75 . Dream on. if she does not want me. A little early for a French date.Well. How are you? .No.I would love to.
I was going to have the car. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated. and the stigma had stayed with me. 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. it was much more fun to go there. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays. I took my mother with me to see a movie. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. and who knows. Neither of us really liked it. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. How was I going to spend the day. extremely noisy. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. Besides. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. After lunch. it gave her a more assertive attitude. after a sleepless night. I decided not to 76 . and that it was very seldom the other way around. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. In my mind. I felt that other people.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. threatening to rain. and inviting her was out of the question. I had lunch with some friends from high school. had much cleaner. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. The weather was overcast. normal people. a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. The clocks once more. as a friend.
As I drove. She answered. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. she said without questioning my use of the nickname. and started going up the ancient staircase. which was definitely worth checking out. feeling much better. I arrived at her door. It was almost a quarter past seven. I walked back. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love.Lindy? . It felt and I felt a little bit slanted. life was beginning to make sense again. I went back onto the quay. Sorry… She hugged me. an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. I could be fashionably late. The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. and told me it was on the fifth floor. the tangled webs… I drove all the way into the Rue de Nevers. the carrier of Christ. Oh. She was on the last floor. and left in the still crowded evening. as I went into the apartment. . I decided to cross the bridge. I punched in the code. Here we go. She looked 77 . and did not know where the apartment was. and leave everything to the moment. and tried to open it. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. welcoming. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. left. I had to make change and go downstairs to call. Everything was all right. waiting for me. I started feeling present and alive again. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now. I cultivated my anger at Alison. there is Lindy Christoforos. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. She gave me the code. I realized I did not have the code. Fortunately. as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. I needed to get to a phone and call her. and finally found a place on the other bank.Allo? . she sounded very sweet. Seven twenty five.Yes. and searched the side streets to no avail. At the end of this drive. unlucky in parking saying after all. It was locked. Smiling. . Is that you? I described my predicament. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge.Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. think of the time it will take to find a parking place! I said goodnight to my mother.
stunning in the golden light, at home barefoot and in jeans, a white shirt, and a proprietary air about the place, that gave her even more presence and beauty. The apartment was an attic with beams, and a whitewashed ceiling. The floor was covered with antique red hexagonal tiles, with a Navajo rug here and there. The floor was at a different level in each room, and the walls were decorated with paintings by unknown painters, the Picassos of the future, a great investment for her friend Igor. The windows were looking out on the roofs and the river. The night was misty, soulful and mysterious. Lindy was taking me into the kitchen, which was not really a kitchen, but opened up into the large living room. The lighting was soft and subdued, with candles and dimmed lamps. She had some Slavic women’s choir softly playing on the stereo. I was expressing my enthusiasm about the place. - You can see why I’d love to have this as my own. Unfortunately, Igor is coming back this fall. - Then where will you live? - Good question. Julien and I used to live together, so I don’t know where I will end up. The kitchen looked like it belonged in a medieval castle and not this penthouse apartment. There seemed to be a whole dinner prepared on the counter, a salad bowl, oysters, clean dinner plates, and a bottle of Bordeaux. I looked puzzled. - Oh yes, she said, since this is Saturday night and it’s madness and lines everywhere, I thought we would have dinner here instead of going out. Is that OK? - I think it’s perfect… We sat down for a while on the couch and had glasses of wine. The moment was truly magical. Outside, I could hear the horns, the senseless agitation, and the meaningless frenzy of Saturday nights in a working town. Inside, there was this feeling of safety with underlying excitement. Nothing can really go wrong. It’s all here, ready to go, just enjoy the ride and don’t pretend you are not really on it. I had asked Lindy how she had been since the last time, and she was telling me. The level of intimacy had definitely risen, even though things were still quite formal between us. She had seen Julien, and had had lunch with him.
- He was all right, and making a real effort to redefine our relationship. I kept being torn between asking him about Sonja and refusing to talk about her. What would I need to know about her, except that she is richer, more famous, and more beautiful than I am? I don’t need to hear that. I wanted to tell Lindy that I thought she was quite beautiful herself, but I kept quiet, saving all my nerve for later. We went on for a while, comparing Alison and Julien, and their ways. I described to Lindy, how Alison had made a specialty of rejecting me and never missing an occasion to tell me how she never really was in love with me not now and not ever. If Alison hinted at a conversation she had had about us, I always hated myself for asking what had transpired. Somehow it came down to “This will hurt your feelings, because I don’t really love you”. Sure enough, my feelings got hurt really badly, and I hated myself for ever believing that there was more to it than “It was fun for a while, and then it was not fun anymore, so I left you for somebody who was new and more fun”. The fact that Marie was one of the most abusive people I had ever heard of did not seem to figure into her reasoning. The fact that instead of being angry at Marie for leaving her and treating her poorly she took it out on me did not seem to cross her mind. Yet, yet, there were times when I could have sworn that she loved me, that we loved each other body and soul, that we meant the world to each other. Where was the truth and where was reality? Could there really be two realities? - Don’t you think, said Lindy, that there can be two realities, one that is real, in harmony with some kind of universal flow, and one that’s an illusion…? The hard part is to decide which one will hurt us the least. I think that Julien was happier with me than he is with Sonja, however right now, he needs to do this. Somehow, it did not bother me that she sounded still so involved with Julien. I felt safe because she had not pretended to be in love with me or anything of the sort. We had a clean slate. I was still nervous because I felt my grip on reality had been loosened by my experience with Alison, and I was not sure that my instincts were in any way to be trusted. It was a little bit like driving a Mack truck on a mountain road in the fog while blindfolded. How good a driver was I really? Did loving women always include power games and drama? Was drama really the most desirable thing in the world? I felt that the only way to protect myself against drama and meaningless pain was to tell the truth clearly about what I
wanted. At least, I could pull myself out of a game that I did not know how to play. Then, and this was the hardest part, I had to train myself to deal with the reactions to what I had said. Rejection is never fun for anyone, but I keep hoping that there is some way to limit the extent of the damage. If the reactions feel cruel, shallow or beyond the pale standoffish, then I have to realize that these were not my people and that I was mistaken to be involved with them in the first place. It was probably a symptom of my own sickness that I still loved Alison. Was Lindy a symptom of my sickness, or a definite sign of recovery? The only way to find out was to level with her, and I was committed to doing just that tonight. There are moments in life when some kind of weird strength takes over, and you just know that the truth is the only thing that will do. We can’t afford to mess with lies, when we only have three weeks to express ourselves…Indeed we should never mess with lies at all, because what can seem like an extensive lifetime does not feel much longer than three weeks when the time comes to leave graciously… We decided to have dinner. There was a table, set French style with a tablecloth, right in front of the largest window, and it was overlooking the slate roofs above the Rue Guenegaud. As we were taking dishes and stuff out of the kitchen, we would touch slightly by accident as we would reach to get something from the counter. The power of the feeling scared me, and I wondered if she experienced the same thing. Yes, Ruthie, I am still wondering. After all these years… Lindy was sitting at the table across from me. We were talking about absolutely everything. Julien and Alison were of course recurring subjects of our analysis, but somehow, I think neither of us was bothered by the reference to the other person. It was almost as if bringing it all out into the open was somehow purging, cleansing, liberating. We were eating and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. There were times when Alison and I would get together and do things, but she would often start daydreaming, or scanning the crowd for somebody she was dying to see, probably Marie and her new girlfriend. Lindy and I were talking about others, yet we were present and relishing each other’s company, at least for the time being. We were going over everything. She was actually asking me what it was like to live one’s life identified as a lesbian.
gay or straight. cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. sipping some old cognac. I still think gay women should be above all this. 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. it depends. The straight world has gone beyond that. I think gay women are so screwed up. one to hate. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. like you know. . After dinner. so exclusive and unreal? . we checked out Igor’s bookcase. I felt very close to Lindy. and the other ones to hate themselves in response. Compared to her. I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however. If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman. Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile. I didn’t care.Oh well.Sometimes.You’re right…Of course. some that we had never read but wished we had. I said. why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified. We sat on the couch.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . really. and I agreed with her. I poured us some more wine. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. Brahmin or Untouchable. This Alison thing has made me question everything. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on. you’re right! But for some reason. that the key to all this is the same. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing.It sounds to me.. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. that I would have been better off straight. the world and everything else. and found some books in French and English that we had read. it would sound so horrible and abusive. . full of resentments and judgments about 81 . At that moment. a tough biker type with tattoos. and talking about ourselves. Somehow. Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed. Yet she hangs on. side by side. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow. trying to stay relatively cool. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . both parties have to agree.
It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone. generously.And now? . protective of each other. for whatever reason. We felt. Behind her I saw a clock.It feels good. easily.Now my mind seems empty. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. in our review of the world and the past. unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. Lindy.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. She seemed kind. I asked her permission. and devoid of any expectation. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. . and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. from the simplest to the most difficult. . I could hear her breathe. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other. all I could think about when I got here was whether or not I would ever sleep with you… She smiled. yet compassionate of others. as it had a few times before. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. prophecies. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. and more of a promise of serenity. empty glass in hand: 82 . and answers to the riddles of the world. There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire.What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. and emotional release. even though I would be at a loss to explain why. The magical courage came back to me. so you can always enjoy that special moment. . ease. evaluating he changes in my mood. There was silence in the room. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life.Is that good or bad? .I was thinking of how. one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. The silences were easy. I should go.everything and everyone. . . quite peaceful. Panic seized me. and lit an after dinner cigarette. As I was speaking. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity.
When we finally pulled apart after quite a while. but she said she would take care of it all. embraced in a final hug. 83 . when we found ourselves involved in the softest. I would constantly wake up.. Instead. We were both rewarded for our courage. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. fullest kiss one can imagine. its searchlights on. all was said and done. I was putting on my jacket. and imaging myself getting up. I am sorry to keep you up so late. Oh. climbing up the stairs out of breath. “I’ll call you” she whispered. I bounced out into the cold night. and leave her cheek right there. I felt some huge wave of unreality wash over me as I walked across the bridge. and I have to be there. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. I mumbled something about helping with the dishes. I had a wonderful evening. 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. that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. and turned around to say goodbye… . gathering my things. We are shooting some location footage for the archives. The cathedral was still lit. I did not work. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. illuminating the river banks. sweetest. I had no idea where the car was. she opened it. dream like…like life itself. and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. In Paris. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. and she. thanks to some inner pilot who was taking over my feet. against mine. I’m sorry… . and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. without pulling back. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing.No.Thank you. The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. We walked to the door together. 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.Aie! Goodness. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. I did start toward the bridge. my heart was pounding away. bright as day. We both laughed. she had the nerve to give me a hug.
well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” .I was hoping it was you in person too. I saw some friends. until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor.Now? She sounded as if she was joking. You remember the code? . walk everywhere. if you don’t know what I mean. but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable. but in dreams everything always seems so normal. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing. My only comfort was to walk. I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number. . saw and heard nothing.What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado.Yes. but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous. I knew. She knew. If she is home. Closing in… Suddenly. drank nothing.Well.It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams. Again.I think we need to help things go where they want to go… My ears were pounding with the bass drum of my heart. it felt like a dream.Come only if you want to.Yes but… . I was wondering if you could possibly come over… . My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught… 84 . How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? .Well. You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar.Lindy? . Hi! I was hoping it was you… . and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… . how are you? . On the third night. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing. It was half past ten.
She closed the door. directly into the Rue de Nevers. like a special favor to me. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. in awe of her poise. It was on a weekday. 85 . and left. Paris would never be the same again. and escaped into the shiny night. and I was already used to it. I put on a T-shirt. jeans. and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. My mind was blank. I knew exactly where I was going and why. where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk. . . grabbed both of my wrists. I could never have imagined that you… . started the car. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city. and I was ready for it. The world never sleeps.Hey. I was staring at her. shoes…I was going through the motions. The monuments on the river bank were all lit. but not like a native either. I regained my composure. her beauty. and yet the streets were still crowded. a jacket. there were no cops to give you parking tickets.. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. things get really clear for me.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again.Sometimes. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations. and sat me down on the couch. right? You’re not scared or anything. and said “All right…” with relief. I turned right on the bridge. I was not particularly nervous. I went down to the garage. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions. In this new life. are you? . and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. You know.This is OK. This is what I want to do right now.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle. Life had just become different in the past half hour. Paris never sleeps.
Yet there was the recognition of love. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. Sleep meant relaxing. we sat on top of the bed facing each other. Why hadn’t she simply called me first? 86 . and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture.Suddenly. No performance anxiety or uneasiness. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. We barely knew each other. shook her head gently and let her hair down. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking. carefully. making a game of folding each item neatly. but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. It was late. and keeping her eyes on me. and fluid like water. the one who savored all that life had to offer. through the skylights. while we were still together. I had a thought for Alison. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. 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. dawn finally won over the darkness. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. So we simply stuck to words for a while. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship. Then. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. young. Lindy reached behind her head. it was thick. like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. the one who could share. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. We undressed slowly. I had seen it done many times in movies. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. heavy. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. When we were done.
We were swimming in warm waters. I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances.I’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. I guess we both had done a good day’s work.It seems to me that we are on a sailboat. 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. 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. I feel like time has stopped. and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. We were very different people from the night before. Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… . .To me. pleased with herself. If she calls me. the betrayal.What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. .You did. Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while.. and take it all the way. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. She was definitely innocent of any such crime. that will be it. plague that can break the most wonderful attempts at liberation. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… . It was a crime against me and Lindy. Instead. in a cocoon of softness. as usual. 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. who was smiling at me as she was asking the question.Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. and I will never go back. rite of shame. And somehow. she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance. if she doesn’t call me. the I only wanted to be friends – what have you done to me – I’d rather not see you again rite of passage. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear… 87 . nor will I wish to… . but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit.
Except that I knew that when the evening came. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened. laughter. None of it seemed to matter one bit.You mean now? . Everybody else could stay in the dark. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay. It was evident that what really counted.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. No evil could ever come of it. but that she would be afraid that he would ask her to bring me over to his house so he could watch us and do it with us. this comfort. we could spend 48 hours together in a row.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. but I could not find that many at all. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. 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 sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner. Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies. we slowly got up. fear that I will turn against you. which superseded and sanctified everything. was this great happiness. All I could find was a welling up of happiness. calm. this freedom.Fear of what? . Then Lindy would go to work.. maybe a little smug…Well. what God or whoever meant for us to feel. it 88 . and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment. The day was really here.Are you feeling any of these fears? . and I would have a normal day. or worse yet. On the contrary. and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together. In fact. looking for my familiar insecurities. She was laughing and we felt so strong. . that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. I would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave. We were making plans of the greatest importance. or straight or anything. I could not find any. Afterwards. so indestructible.
I backed it up to the Quai. and then collected on your various calls and time online.was the essence of generosity. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. I felt elated and shaky. at the door. I was out in the light. The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. someone watching over me. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating. singles groups. “Hi. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. They gave you the terminal for free. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. I had to go. Yet.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. you are faceless. I had been so lucky! . 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. pick up bars and gay bars. with me. and had given me the nerve to come back to her. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. and sped toward the darker western skies. or a Goddess. It was time for me to go. Bravely. There was a God. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps. 89 . out of place. She had to go to work. The car was still there. 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. Someone had to make a decision. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless. My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. illegal. the magic was lingering. out on the street. who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. It was light out. of intelligence.
No. and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs. I had packed. I entered the code. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other.Are you going back home then? . while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. Lindy had taken Monday off. who lived on a barge on the river. The bag was not too heavy. But Lindy and I had made other plans. born in Argentina. She did not want to cancel. I had jumped off the train of time. slow and gentle. not really either…I guess I’m just going away. . Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi. It was as if we were on a beach. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. the streets and the city. I had said goodbye to everyone. She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. Without any prompting on my part. His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. It was hot and sultry. It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing..No. I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. Climbing into the taxi. and called a cab to leave on Sunday. Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. and we were mellow. I was in my home 90 . On a clear summer day. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. . I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality. Then we closed the door on the stairs.No. Lindy came down to help me. Rue de Nevers. and we were going to get our 48 hours together. I usually always took the Sunday flight. So this time. no…thank you. Once more. on my way back to California. with him. the temptation…I smiled back. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. There I was. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies. I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead. I’m not. on Tuesday.
His paintings were abstract. Every item had its place. and the world loved us back. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. 91 . and up to the bridge.city. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. lounge chairs. We toasted to all of us. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall. Dinner was delicious. he said. Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. according to him. We were in love with each other. and he said he had prepared food especially for us. with an exuberance of color. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen. happy. We walked along the still crowded square. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. seafaring lore and framed photographs. . but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. It had a bedroom. yet exuded calm. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Antonia. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever. a table was set for three. Good for sex. The door was open on an interior full of paintings. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop. but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. By the window on the river side. from his mother’s ancient recipes. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. The deck was decorated with flowers. we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. .Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. with candles and a bottle of wine. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. Diego was a great cook. We climbed aboard and right away. We agreed that while it would be great to be able to make out in the open like these people. It was small. to friendship and love. I laughed with him. He took us on a tour of the barge.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. we were in love with the world. young. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart.
as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. 92 . we had dulce de leche. We were stunned that everything was going so well. 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. so I did care. Maybe that first day at the Babylone. Unfortunately. but could not stay apart for too long. The next morning. 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. one of the most erotic tangos ever written. and gave us each one. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. exhausted and overwhelmed. At first we thought of going to a movie. Lindy was laughing a lot. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds.Always be good to each other. we said goodnight to our host. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. we woke up giddy with renewed energy. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. I had escaped with a lie. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. my friend Diego. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. Finally. So. he said. We finished the evening with yerba mate. and walked off into the night holding hands. That night. We had some coffee and some fruit. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. For dessert. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine.. 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. our friend and protector. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. to always treasure as a souvenir. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together.
and the view was sweeping and breathtaking. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. she was in love with me. 93 . She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. Neither of us had ever been up there. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. the hunchback who lived in the tower. The men had danced until dawn. I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. There was nobody there. and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. flatly. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging. It was not very crowded up there. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side. and we needed a rest. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. In between the rumble of tour boats. She admitted hers were too.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. As we were talking. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel. so we would always remember it as ours. and now. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. We entered from the side. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. Going down was even harder than going up. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. We were pointing landmarks to each other. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. -You know that I love you. sitting out on the stone steps. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon. and sat down below the stairs. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river. and started up the stairs. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. unbelievably. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. but it was a different story to say it like that. A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her.
Then finally. I caught up with her. and as always trying to control her hair.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. slender and graceful. you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. . . We were so well tuned by then. -How about…I stopped mid-sentence. I did not know what to say. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank. I was shocked. I guess we had found our legs again. -Nah. Lindy was running ahead. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. we did not waste any time. I said. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank.She replied softly. We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other. past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai. Once Rue de Nevers. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you. under the protection of the trees. 94 . . then walked briskly across the bridge. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. but then dared to ask the hovering question. Let's go home… We went back up the steps. I could not stay in Paris. . I smiled back.Come on. But I was also surprised at the relief I felt. hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge. We kissed in the shadow of the stairs. Wow. It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. I took a deep breath. -Yes. she said.Now I know why you wear running shoes. We stayed silent for a while.
Even if I can't do anything about it. and dreamy. elated by the memories of our day together. I repacked my suitcase. I started with the obvious. we stayed as long as we could. We were feeling euphoric. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. Once done. I called a cab for the next morning. not eating very much.Once there. She smiled in the candlelight. It was long. At some point. it was also my own. son of Aphrodite. I always will. I folded the letter. I said. 95 . daring and lighthearted. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. Then she took her turn. and we sat down to dinner. no obligation. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand. but that was just fine. -Will you always desire me? -Yes. It was slow. Lindy returned. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. and toasting to everything. shooter of arrows. just live in the present and make the best of it all. -Will you always love me? -Yes. it will always be there. Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. and the ease with which we had solved our future. and lover of Psyche. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis. All we had was champagne. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. I will always love you. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. She had put on a jazz CD. It was simple: no upheaval. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner.
I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. One last kiss. it was harder to let go than we expected. before the next morning. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. and finished packing. As it turned out. and made love for what we felt could be the last time. we eventually did fall asleep. A lifetime had gone by. I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself. and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. I did not know which one to go with. Not surprisingly. 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. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. A man and a 96 . Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. We sealed the vows with a kiss. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. the time came. I think she meant the apartment. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go. but she could have meant Paris. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. Finally. I said I would do the same. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home. but we woke up in time without the alarm. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch. -Next time you come to Paris. and soon we had to forget about dinner and proceed with all the living to be done.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. I will be. We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up. the loving ahead of us. There was promise and regret in her tone.
I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. and had to sit down on my suitcase. 97 . but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. I might come back soon. or I might not. and stereotype and there was no turning back. We had a new take on life. her eyes were down. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. -Lindy. I finished the cigarette. She waved back. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. I had never loved like this. Had we missed the chance of a lifetime? But I knew that my life had completely changed already…I was a different person than I was three weeks ago…My body. with such intensity. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. I lit a cigarette. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. When we pulled apart. I had never known such freedom. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. I waved back. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. And then. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. I began… The van started honking. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. and effortlessly walked me through it. let the chips fall where they may. Hearing her voice on the recording again. I realized how far we had come in those few days. Lindy had taken me by the hand. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. conformity. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. She was gone. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. my taxi had arrived. I had never lived like this. hopping into the van and waving. -J'arrive. I suddenly was exhausted. j'arrive! She yelled back.
Lindy. 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. Of course. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. beautifully open. As I entered the kitchen. 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. well maybe I could be more like her. I went to the airport bookstore to see if by chance they had a copy of Marguerite Duras’ “the Lover”. and off I went. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. 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. They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. they didn’t have it. drinking a little too much. No surprise there. so we can solve all of their problems. After the phone call. 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. There was also an aura of kinship. Half way through dinner that night. of inner or past troubles. 98 . Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. If I did not end up being with her. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. There she was. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart. 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.
enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. So. and Minna. but thought that I never would. I had been doing this for the last year or so. I remembered Minna’s offer. while he is himself about to die. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. 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. It was just for a couple of days. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. Venice. I thanked her. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. in which the aging hero. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. The similarity in names. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector. So there I was…I felt good. intelligent. I still was not worried 99 . active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. and Bethany was not a kid anymore. This was a time in my life. California. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. and well travelled. a sophisticated. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. and hoped that I would stay in touch. I was lighthearted. They were unconventional. I was appalled to think that at my age. I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. Gustav Von Aschenbach. Coming back to the dining room. struck me as most ominous. I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. I liked both of them a lot. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges.
So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. I said. and know that it was just a gift. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. “Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. He was slim. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. she would have to give a speech and there was no way of course that she could miss this event. and not too smoggy. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. Minna was very matter of fact about the award. In fact. 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. It was almost a relief to leave the house and drive on the freeway on my way to Hollywood. and then out on a date with her boyfriend Vijay or “VJ” as they called him. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. His smile was broad and confident. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious. We had talked at length about VJ the night before. That morning.about Aschenbach. rich. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling. beautiful. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. as I 100 . a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist. Much to my chagrin however. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. elegant. It was a beautiful day. and yet keep it light. and being one of the recipients.
I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma. There. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. It was not too different from the times. hurtful and out of line. just for fun. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. free and ageless. guardian of our dreams and our longings. it felt like I had finally become myself. and stared at the waves for quite a while. I felt generous. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. and I was smiling back. things might go better for me. and went right back outside. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe! 101 . feeling alive. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. saying hello. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. After all these years. The water was quite chilly. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice. Everything looked good this morning. The meeting went very well. I felt better. People were smiling at each other. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. and so did the lunch afterwards. We even discussed a particular night. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. Then went back North and through Hollywood. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. and walked in with a spring in my step. I decided it was too early.revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. well named Tinsel Town. but I did not feel the same. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night. The mist was gone. and walked into the empty house.
that would be nice. "Anna Karenina". a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm". I went back to my dinner. Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello.Sure. Well. Interesting. Ah. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. I went back into the house. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment. finding a plate. when it started looking a little more like dusk. three shelves below. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read.Yes.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion. you never know when it might be lost or stolen. . I was examining the book collection as well. by John Wyclife. . . I went back to the living room. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before. and as I always like to do. pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little.I thought you were going out tonight. . and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea.D. Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah. cooling the glass with ice cubes. maybe she forgot something. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying. and was getting ready to warm them up. Then some classics. I said.Come here. Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm". 102 . I did not want to intrude. M.Finally. when I heard the front door open and close. I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. She smiled. I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. but I wanted to be comforting somehow. well so did I! She did seem upset. 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. . in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered. .
. she’s from Brazil. She was talking easily of this and that. he was there.Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. going down easy and was relaxing both of us. where we had been. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask.Ah. and I was determined to help in some way. in the middle of the Outback.Or at the emergency room. . eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you? 103 . what we thought. 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. on the road. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went. We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001. or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better.Do you have any idea where he went? . . . . we talked about our travels.So I called his cell phone. For all I know. of course.Oh. but it was on voice mail. We talked about movies we liked. by chance. . It was dark outside. 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 thinks she’s hot. She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out.Well. please. I could guess. Australia. there is this girl Olivia Ramos. The wine was delicious and light. or would you rather not? Talk about it. but he was not there.She seemed to begin to relax a little. He always says he thinks she’s really hot. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers. I can talk about it. don’t hold it in. and she flirts with everyone including him. . .So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it.
However. I have been around the block a few times. . At least. I have. and did not seem embarrassed at all. since yesterday. and softly chuckled. 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. Wyclife's arcane instructions.What do you know about this. . 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.Ha. She looked down briefly. What do you want to know? 104 .No. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. but if outwardly you are quite stunning. I mean it.Well.Oh. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. At least that's what I would have done… . amazed at her beauty. but that’s just me. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me.Yes. . more than one. she asked. We have fun together. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. he pays me nice compliments every now and then. he’s never said it in my presence. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. smiling.Are you kidding? . I looked back at her. this might not mean much to you.Well. I’m not. do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… .Yes. like a joke.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . that is of course very important… But Bethany. she laughed. from what you told me. I said it lightly. . Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment.. I said jokingly. maybe. I do. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. She looked at me with a funny little smile.Well. . She looked straight back at me. have you ever been with a man? .
I reminisced on how any time we found ourselves alone on a beach or a secluded trail was an excuse to make love. whether I was with her or away from her. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. I said. even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. with a woman I had met at a cafe. . It was as if each moment was intensified.Quite different. and I suddenly stopped talking. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once. I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep. On the other hand. I became conscious of my breathing. quasi erotic friendships with men. into territories where acquaintances seldom go. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves.And off we went. how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles.and in a relationship with a man.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? . I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women. and of an overwhelming 105 . my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. East Los Angeles. oil pumping ones. San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time.No. and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. the ones with the little houses and the little lawns. being with a woman is dangerous. Actually. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. Still. had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility. . illicit and were deeply hidden. in Redondo Beach. in San Francisco’s North Beach. Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf.Was that your first time? . and women are not always very careful with that.
I luxuriate. asking how school was going for her so far. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. to our rooms. So. so a shower will be a good substitute. My head is spinning a little from the wine. Tonight has been so good. as I am entranced by her. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. more intoxicating than the alcohol. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. and it is strange to say. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. I broke the spell by making small talk. we went up the stairs. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. filling up the dishwasher. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. Finally. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. I got up from the table. and started gathering the dishes. 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. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. Bethany got up as well. 106 . and was shamelessly taunting me. I can still hear the ocean out there. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. The salt in the air is exhilarating. putting away unused silverware. this is not quite the Caribbean. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. Dying is not an option.desire to kiss her. and she replied that it was going quite well. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. Instead. Wrapped in the towel. to find Bethany in my room. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. of an elegant. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. wiping counters. and we cleared the table.
. . She looks flushed and smiling. along with an old business card from something somewhere. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. forgotten . but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not…. sent back to their dark alleys.You know…I need to say this. looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home. all the way to some strange ease. to my utter surprise. OK. we end up kissing instead. as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. But then. I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. and I find it. I guess it went quite well after all. She lowers her eyes and starts . I turn around. tonight…”. and feel all. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me. tenderness. a man’s robe. All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. she props her head up on her elbow. if only what’s his name could see you right now. The return is made of gentleness. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. enough suffering.a little too big for her.Of course not… -That book you mentioned. I say. She laughs. And then. . where the travelers know all. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. hours ago. 107 . where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. she kisses softly. I’d like to get it. I don’t really care. naturally. What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience. I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp. I want to give Bethany what she wants.Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. where all shame and self consciousness disappear.Oh Bethany. we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation. oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder. Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane.Mind if I come in? She says… .
Her beauty is overwhelming me. I guide her. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible. As I turn off the light. I am in a way teaching. She is looking at me. I must have.Here comes your mom. you better get out of here. . 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. or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. I smile. and things don’t always have to work out that way. I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I grant you that. how did you sleep? 108 . I hear the front door open. She kisses me again lightly. 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. “…angel…” I say. as I realize Minna is coming home. don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters. . We talk softly. I follow her. She smiles back. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off. I got up.Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. Now dear reader. We jump off in tandem.Don’t worry. I am not expecting anything from you. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions. I’m not sure she would appreciate. I am in awe of my student. But in reality. How easy it is to lose track of time. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about. though. 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. and I snap back to the world. and by now. Just consider this my legacy. and tiptoes toward the door. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. Bethany…I am not free anyway. I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night..Good morning! Said Minna. .
. she was always radiant. when after what seemed to be a very long time. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality. for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. feeling easy and detached. “Good morning!” She was smiling. energetic. I finally started relaxing. By the time I was packing up to go. and it was about to be over. I answered that it went well. I walked over to her. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table. chasing young things around Venice. I could see Bethany. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully. . but on the other hand. I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. mixing stuff in the blender. trying to make sure that I would remember everything. and the conversation stayed away from my evening and how it went. She laughed quite easily. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux. I came down and started loading the rental car. I couldn’t. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode. not wanting to be distracted from the moment.Thank you Bethany. but honestly. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. My inner Gustav was somewhere else. Bethany came back just to keep me company. radiant. even when she was sad.What can I say…my pleasure! 109 . . . As I turned toward the house. I said. I realized I had feared for a few minutes that I was not going to see her again. I slept very well. dressed. how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. I said goodbye to Minna. and I was feeling strong and gliding though life on a path of lightness and freedom. -Oh. and it was well worth the trip. I waved back. looking at her. I saw Minna wave from the terrace. At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease. up. I was feeling quite happy with myself. and she was a perfect hostess. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality.Yep.Out of the corner of my eye. we got absorbed in the anecdotes from the banquet.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing.
no response ever came. but no pain. However. to enjoying a link which would not be broken. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. I wondered why Minna was not responding. so far. and I felt that for her. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. I had said that I did not expect anything. Somehow. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. For some reason. Minna and I were not old friends. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. and to whom one can talk about just anything. and finally answer me. Maybe she was upset because I teased her when she said that material possessions did not matter to her happiness. 110 . For about a week after I returned home. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. So there was a certain amount of longing. Bethany was gone. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. Still somewhere. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. to knowing how Bethany was doing. I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. To my surprise. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. so I got in the car and drove away. and then decides that they have too many friends already. I was looking forward to hearing from her. I think she would have been more the confronting type. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. 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. I am not very good at blowing kisses. I walked back to the car. my mind was still with Bethany. But I didn’t really know. From the shadow of the house. She had always been so pleasant with me. in my dark little heart. back home near San Francisco.We both started laughing. Relieved. hoping that she would catch up with her email. and was fully expecting a response. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality. It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. this cut to the quick.
and imagined what it would be like to be her. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. and plunged me into a dark vat of infatuation and yearning. radiant of course. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. Some other times. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. I felt like I was really cheating. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. I had been so cool. as I was distracted most of the time. thinking about Bethany. Bethany was the angel of Death. Not only my partner. I would also have moments where I realized how silly this whole thing was. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name. smooching at this year’s Gala”. It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. This. the local newspaper in Venice California. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. About two months later. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. at her most…well. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. He was not as striking as VJ. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. regret. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. And it was true in a way. Sometimes. Now. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. if I was alone somewhere. and maybe also shame. and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. I felt like I was Bethany myself. It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. Often. but everyone around me. and became angry at myself. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. 111 . I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her. nor really a desire.
My memory of the event however. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. ostracized and unloved. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. had given of herself without fear. but the streetlights had come on. accompanying me to work. I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. and that memory was with me a lot of the time. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike. to this gorgeous world. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all 112 . and I had to exorcise it somehow. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. going for a sexy look. a feeling of being vulnerable. too unnerving. that last bastion of privacy. But these were not tears of sadness…my throat constricted and my heart started beating a little faster…it was the joy of belonging…belonging to this music. and chasing after some unknown idea of success. I had been aware. and uninteresting. They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before.was too distracting. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. had somehow caused an unconscious regression. they all looked alike. but more the idealized image that we have of them. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice. It was not dark yet. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. California. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. to sleep. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. except for Bethany. One day. 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. I loved the song. to horseback rides in the hills. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. As I was singing and driving. In the end. and could not help but start singing along full blast. listening to the radio in my car. without defenses and with a real purity of intent.
She found it again where she wanted to find it. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. At least. The feeling was familiar. To keep… The most important. It would last. because it lived in each of us. and maybe it is better this way. it was like that for me. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. still with delight.that was there for me. almost spiritual way. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. albeit in a more restrained. To be honest. who was beautiful and brave. When I look back at our brief moments together. I see nothing but love. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. was not about despair or death. it was our own. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. and I found it deep within myself. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. Maybe it was the circumstances. 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. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. I do relish the memories of that night. As it turned out. and reminisce on occasion. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. and we had opened that door for each other. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going.
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