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