Christine Hall Volkoff - Travels Through Love and Time | Nature

Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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


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

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


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


You mother said she had business in France. especially from the point of view of a kid. I regularly gave them looks that could kill. She had dark skin. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion.Shit! Whatever…I said.Today. She was married to Marco d’Alessi. and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. Right now. though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not.When is she coming? . that she needed the rest. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave.Oh right. but I had seen some of her movies. Since my father was working in the film business. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . I hated her. The idea of having to contend with “La d’Alessi” for a whole week made me want to pull out all of my mother’s roses and trample them until there was no trace left of them. and she wants be incognito. and ran away to my room. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. . as Simone frowned at the word. like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. I still could not believe it! One whole week! . but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. however. and always found them to be extremely boring in person. were I have to admit. very blue eyes. a producer who was much older than her. and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s. Some of the films.Why. I thought she was beautiful. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00. I had never met her. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. slightly above my head. This was a double whammy! . I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years. I decided that I would not have 4 .I was crestfallen. . Mr. She looked good in black and white though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. but also intimidated to be out there. Then he helped us open the duffel. he pulled out the plank. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. and nothing seemed to come easily. drinks in hand. almost alone with her. and then I jumped from the bow. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. Finally. and we were off. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. and swam around with Francesca. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. She was slender and strong. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. with calm seas and a soft breeze. The shackles were rusty with salt. There were very few other boats around. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island.everything step by step. ideal for apprentice sailors. We did one clumsy port tack. This put the breeze at our back. 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. easy swimmer. Once we passed the jetty. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. Fortunately. In the water. On the boat. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. I tried not to stare at her. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. She was a smooth. in a tribute to her natural beauty. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. 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. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. We dropped anchor. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. with skin the color of light rosewood. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. she was all fluidity and elegance. When she came up from diving. it was time to sail. and she 18 . I poked around in the cabin for a while. Francesca started the engine. It looked like a perfect day though. as I had not been sailing for a long time. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. I was nervous. waved at him. I felt privileged.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

including my mother who finally came back. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. When you love someone who is in the public eye. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. Many times. Guillaume. There. Every once in a while. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father.the male protagonist. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. I thought of writing to Francesca. though I very seldom spoke to him. 32 . and often saw her on television. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. However. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. My mother was not very forthcoming. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. I don’t really remember… Finally. I grew shy about contacting her. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. or maybe calling her. or a famous cop. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. the summer wound down. Tropez two years before. 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. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. And so I did. and since I never heard from her. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. just as I had escaped the island for St. He himself also lived in Rome. This part of my life was over. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. Yet. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer. I went to see all her movies. and it was now time to grow up and be the best student I could be in order to leave school as soon as possible and move on to University. I went back to school. or a saint. read about her. and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. and we all returned to Paris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally.Ciao Christina! . We can’t afford to miss this plane. Marco was waving at me from the other side. Please come. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could.Sorry Francesca. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. I crossed over on the beach side. then glided on toward Nice. Oh my God! I had missed them…It was 9:05…Maybe there was still a chance…I rushed down the stairs without waiting for the elevator. The window started going up. I was relieved. . I must have grown. uncontrolled. Francesca was calm as usual. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. Francesca spotted me immediately. I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . once at the sign. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. The tinted glass was too dark. The words came out of me on their own.Don’t be sad. . and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. I was holding her very tight. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. sweetie…go for the good life. way out there on the Croisette. “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. and she disappeared behind it. but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. out of breath and disheveled. but rushed and fell into her arms. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. There.airport at 9:30. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. I could not see inside. . I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. as now my cheek was right against hers.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca. I looked over to the other side. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. to not have to wait for the red lights. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. Christina…but we need to go.

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

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

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

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

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

and it was all for a reason. where I belonged. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. 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. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. Everything happens for a reason. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. I automatically assumed the woman was French. I’ve read all her books. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. In a foreign language.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. What to do? What if I came back to the café. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. which would also make me very uncomfortable. She is tres amusante!”. 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. Besides. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. and if things did happen for me. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. for the first time since losing Alison. By the way. here I am. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. what if? Chapter Two The train. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh. I have. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. . She looked down briefly. At least. What do you want to know? 104 . that is of course very important… But Bethany. I said it lightly. from what you told me.Yes. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. I’m not. . and softly chuckled. it sounds like VJ might be more into himself than he is into you…and maybe this imbalance is what makes you hang on for dear life.What do you know about this. We have fun together. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment.Yes. more than one. . I looked back at her. She looked straight back at me.Are you kidding? .No. like a joke.Well. smiling.Well. However. this might not mean much to you.Well. Wyclife's arcane instructions.Ha.. She looked at me with a funny little smile. but if outwardly you are quite stunning. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. I mean it. and did not seem embarrassed at all. . amazed at her beauty. At least that's what I would have done… . since yesterday. she asked. I have been around the block a few times. I said jokingly. I do. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. . have you ever been with a man? . do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… .But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . but that’s just me. maybe. he’s never said it in my presence. she laughed. he pays me nice compliments every now and then. And sex is good…at least it is for me… I could picture a 14 year old Bethany studying late at night trying to decipher Dr. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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