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Christine Hall Volkoff
Published: 2009 Tag(s): romantic bisexual Paris lesbian "coming of age"
TRAVELS THROUGH LOVE AND TIME Journeys beyond our selves… By Christine Hall Volkoff
Part 1: NOSTROMO One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing spread your wings and take to the sky… DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin “Summertime” Day One
It had started as such a good day. As I sat on the bluff amongst the pines, looking at the entire view of the island all around me, the cicadas were so loud that I could hardly hear myself think. The sea was calm, with a few white sails here and there. I could see the little harbor, with pieces of the village around it. I recognized the Navy fort to my right, and the white beaches to the North, and tried in vain to spot my parent’s house off the Chemin du Langoustier. It felt so good to be out there in the warm breeze, taking in the scent of hot pine sap, the sweet loneliness of being up there with myself and my dreams. One day, I would be up here with someone I loved, and we would kiss in the shadow and protection of the maritime pines, we would own the world. I got up, and went back to my clunky bicycle. The brakes were so bad, that my friends and I had bought some cheap sandals with high cork heels at the Porquerolles market, so we could drag our feet and use the heels as brake pads in order to slow down. I cautiously started down the trail, bouncing the tires over the pine needles and roots. I was on the island for the summer. My parents were both gone, typically in their separate ways, my father in Italy and my mother somewhere in Scandinavia. I enjoyed having the house to myself. Not quite to myself since I had Simone, my governess to take on all the hard work and boring tasks in the house, and take care of me. It was a great deal, and I appreciated every minute. The freedom was palpable, almost unbearable, and I could only hope I could summon the experiences to make it unforgettable. I rode through the village, still bouncing on all the rocks, and took the one paved road to the left, back to the house. I had worked up an appetite, and was looking forward to sitting out in the courtyard, eating Simone’s delicious food and looking at the bees dancing around the wisteria. I was reading a mystery. I always liked to read while having lunch. At night I would usually discuss the day with Simone. I parked the bicycle in the service entrance, and knew right away something was wrong. Simone looked worried. “Your mother called!” she said. Oh no. “Is she coming?” I said, with a mixture of hope and fear. I was hopeful that maybe she was taking enough of an interest in her progeny to come and spend some time with me. I was afraid that she would be coming home and start taking away my precious freedom. -No, but she has invited Mrs. d’Alessi to stay here for a week. -What?!
slightly above my head. however. 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. I thought she was beautiful. Since my father was working in the film business. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. very blue eyes.When is she coming? .You mother said she had business in France.Why. I hated her. Some of the films. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. I still could not believe it! One whole week! . She looked good in black and white though. I decided that I would not have 4 . I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . They seemed to always listen to themselves talk. but I had seen some of her movies.Shit! Whatever…I said. Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. Mr.Today. of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion. were I have to admit. like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca.Oh right. but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career.I was crestfallen. and ran away to my room. and always found them to be extremely boring in person. and she wants be incognito. especially from the point of view of a kid. She had dark skin. as Simone frowned at the word. She was married to Marco d’Alessi. Right now. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. I had never met her. This was a double whammy! . and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s. though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. that she needed the rest. a producer who was much older than her. . I regularly gave them looks that could kill. . and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave.
He had blond hair that was curly in places. I hopped on the bike. turn it over to empty it and start all over again. So there. He was skinny. and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. did not return my feelings. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. we will know for sure who done it. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. Let him or her go free. At 2:30. I liked them all. as possible. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. He had the looks of an angel. I had a crush on Bambi. The canoe leaked. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. and off we went. working hard. Then. Bambi. who were brothers.anything to do with her. I was furious at my mother. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. So it was really Ondine and me and the boys. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. as he always yelled at me. We made 5 . and I loved to watch him. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. Ondine and Veronica. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. I made my escape. whose nickname was of all things. My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica. I ate my lunch distractedly. This was probably what attracted me. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. We played a game where we would pull out the old canoe that we had hidden at the Plage d’Argent. and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. and the manners of a bad boy. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. It was me and “the girls”. and did not join us very often. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. After all our exertions. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys. making shopping lists. Once they are all dead. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. and that always fell in front of his eyes. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. to the latest news. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents.
She extended her hand to me.Yes. good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents. and told her I would not be home for dinner.You must be Christina…happy to meet you. but I did not say who it was.Is she here? . Simone was not free to talk. d’Alessi or not.fun of the people we called tourists. like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin. I took a shower. yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. I woke up late. . We had houses. I shook her hand. Day Two The next day was a little cloudy. that somehow pulled you in. other than mocking or yelling. . as I usually did on cloudy days. so I felt I had to respect that. buttering a slice of toasted bread.Is she going to have dinner at home? . . but you are welcome! . I’m Francesca. They were blue. Obviously. Today was a good day. luminous. . as usual. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. Francesca d’Alessi was there. and went out into the patio for some breakfast.OK. I was struck by the color of her eyes. grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies. see you tomorrow morning! Good night. A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me. As she looked up. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. those who lived on the island all year round. I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village. ignored the Italianization of my name. we did not stay in hotels. and sat down at the table. I will! I was relieved not to have to face the awkward situation of whether I was welcome to eat with Mrs. Francesca wanted to be incognito. we were locals. . but there was something about her demeanor. and biked home as slowly as I could.Indeed. I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some 6 .Thanks. as close to midnight as I could.
Yes I do. and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys. I replied yes. . I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? .coffee. she said. .So. . You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question).Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . and then she changed the subject.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . I aced the spelling dictation as usual. He will be here for two nights. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. to get to the harbor.Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. but had recently become mine. . she was doing summer homework with her tutor. and her English was definitely superior to my Italian. 7 .Mrs. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help. It’s too small. and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion. and they let me join in.No. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone.Not far. When I arrived at Ondine’s. but sweated a little more for the math. and besides you cannot get lost on the island. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. . even less obtained as a result. actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . .I am meeting a friend at 10:30.Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. She spoke to me in English. but Francesca started in.
and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues. She is actually staying at our house.Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning.She is supposed to be incognito. I had borrowed mine from Veronica. . .We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch. Do you want to come? . as I did not remember where mine was. Besides. Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. . Bambi started the conversation. and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents. we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing. I said sighing.Nothing…what are you doing today? . . . Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day. but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident.Oh. I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned. I had learned from a local kid how to turn the head inside out and beat out the ink before handing the octopus to the chef for lunch. and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . and snorkel gear. 8 .Sure… And off we went. I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back.Her boyfriend? Said Bambi. I know. Fishing meant hunting down the fish.And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine. Sometimes. Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite.Hey you guys! What are you up to? . Bambi had brought a fishing gun.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame. on our bikes. and sat on the beach. and did not want to go back to the house and look for it.
Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents. I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. We were all soaring above white clouds. his name is Tomaso. infinite ocean. that broke into a long. happy and comfortable. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure.She’s not a dyke.You better beware. This was no bird. When I arrived back at the house. but I was already dozing off. Things were quite messy in there. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. Argentinian star who had created a sensation at the last Cannes Festival after her film won the Palme d’Or. repeated moaning. This had driven the paparazzi crazy. finally interested in the next clue. No one was there. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. Suddenly. and below us was the blue.I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. . I could still hear the bird sound. cuff links here. The move broke my balance. mysterious. it was still early. know that?! . so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins. with long necks. Selena Hirschberg was the dark. by refusing all the interviews. . I went back to my room. said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… . I woke up suddenly from my dream. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds. and the 9 . like seagulls. It was a soft. of all people. Her boyfriend came today. prolonged moan. and picked up my mystery book. intense. The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. little old you. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed. intense with sweetness. men sized sneakers there.What? Come on! How could you.. like blue herons. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip. and I started falling. I was hanging on to one of them. feeling lighter than a feather.
No way could I sleep. . Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. I heard water running. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing. Outside. and I got up and joined them in the patio.Christina. It took a while. following their movements. I started sniffling. Someone got up. .wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it. My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night. I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. wake up! . I could see stars and some clouds. come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. listening. There was silence for a while. and realized it was going to get cold. realizing they had left the door open. whispering in Italian. He left the room. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. an immense sadness came over me. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. and the moaning started again. They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me. wearing nothing but shorts. Francesca greeted me. The light was turned off. feigning sleepiness. I got up. punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. with that racket going on. the sound of laughter. Safe in the warmth of my bed. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided. where I could not hear anything. I crossed the patio and went back to my room.Come on.What? I was wide awake by now. His smile was disarming and contagious. more voices. I stayed awake for a while. Without warning. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. to the point where tears came to my eyes. and went outside. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast. 10 . and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. The loneliness was palpable. Shivering. Then. and Tomaso introduced himself. the door opened slightly. When I did not respond.
I said to myself. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. At night. finally sipping that Pastis. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. a Riva speedboat. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. the sky. We had melon. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. Francesca’s smiling face. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome. After I climbed back on the boat. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. After I had spent some time enlightening 11 . The day was gorgeous. ready to take his turn with the mono ski. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. or even with anyone. on a large circle off the coast. dark green towel. There I was. Not a cloud in the sky. bobbing by the wharf. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. and I managed to get up on the skis. Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. We had wine. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me. the misty coast beyond. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. I will remember this always. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults. Tomaso looked like a Greek God. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. he said. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. being part of them. so engaging. the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. This is how real people live. He was so energetic.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing. We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. on my way to spending the day with them. This is how people eat it in Rome. The captain Mr. the wake. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. I thought. said Tomaso. I declined the drink until later. and there I was walking with them. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back.
exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. said Francesca.Wrap yourself up with cellophane. and Mr. and their conscious beings. We had to jump off the boat into the water. Once in my bed. After we were done drying the floor. . Now that they were my friends. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor.Well. lifting her glass. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom. I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. said Francesca. . as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further. said Tomaso. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. 12 . night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. I listened. Running across the living room. I listened into the night. We waved goodbye. Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks. and listened over the crickets. 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. he doesn’t know what he’s missing. I fell sound asleep.them on his name and nickname. heard some cats meowing. I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. “Buona Notte.Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. and splashed around as we ran toward the house. and wait for him in his room. I was laughing so hard. Day Four As I woke up. I knew the facts of life of course. we got back into the boat. I had tears in my eyes. everyone!”. and joined her. After dinner. Eventually. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi. .
You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me. I just know she’s not a dyke. and I actually did better in math this time. I threw some sand at him. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. because you do. Today was the 14th of July. thinking about the cellophane. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys. My confidence had also increased. the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils. Even Bambi. I waved back and grabbed my bike. 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. I noticed that everything around me had changed. as his wisecracks about Francesca were beginning to get on my nerves. Bastille Day. now I secretly owned the beach. After all. . When she looked at me. it was as if the world was coming together. . She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand. I would suddenly be tall. She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in. We usually did not have fireworks on or near the island but some people took the boat to Hyeres to watch them. We worked for a while. don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. that’s all! 13 . “the little deer”. looking at his back and the blond curls in the back of his head. had changed.I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. a celebration in all of France. . Afterwards. it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. we had sandwiches for lunch.Oh. but I was also chuckling to myself. I used to be visiting that beach. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. I still enjoyed looking at him.Nothing. As a matter of fact. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer. I am the one who felt irritation. tan and fearless.
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.You know me? And do I know you? . was playing “Johnny B. Veronica. obviously obsessed by Francesca. and took off his hat. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags. aren’t we protective…. Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. and younger than her thirty something years. with electric guitars and accordions. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. She looked tan.My. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry. as I went over to join Ondine.Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. I know you… . rum “baba”. She took in the scene. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. 14 . Simone’s favorite and mine as well. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. over in the far corner. that Francesca agreed to join them. and one of the sailors spotted her. Couples and kids were dancing.And on we went… That night. He came over. We had a great time. d’Alessi. . will ya? . of course. There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. Some local band. We could already hear the music from the terrace. and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. . and smiled. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake. and no makeup whatsoever. on the village square.Lay off her. to thank her for taking such good care of us. said Bambi. Her presence was hard to ignore. Francesca had a way of drawing people out. . Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. Good” and singing it in French. Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us.Mrs.
Francesca was a good dancer. and some tourist amateur photographers. and twirl me around. I got up to greet her.Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. and it made me extremely proud and happy. I said…still a little worried. and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography. if a little subdued and controlled. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends.Is everything OK? I asked. but I had not been paying attention. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses. and she was supposed to be incognito.Yes I am. and Francesca said “Oh. 15 . We all got up to dance with her. She nodded yes without answering. I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy. . I should have spotted the photographer and warned her. . After a while. so we danced like zombies together. until he finally had to laugh. She walked over to our table. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration. I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. . and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s.Christine! You’re almost cool. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off. But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. and we all started dancing in a circle. and soon he and I. I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors. sometimes. So he finally stopped. That’ll make a nice front page. you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me.I guess it’s OK with her. I looked around for Francesca.What’s going on over there? . and some of the sailors joined us as well. and seemed to be having a great time.. executed in zombie like jerks. pick me up in his arms. Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. . Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. I don’t think Francesca was counting on this.
carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow. la media luz de amor…la la la”. and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. We got back to the house safe and sound. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight.But Mrs. I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. It was very dark and still warm. Myriads of stars were out.I need to go home. At some point. You just wait and see… She looked excited. and we could hardly see. as if at some grand event.At some point. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. no moon yet. We could still hear the music coming from the square. sweetie… .Christina. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much. and twirled away back to her room. . As we said goodnight. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. . so I could guide her on the trail. She kissed me on my right cheek. she took my hand. I did not want to leave Francesca alone.I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes. . and then was quiet all the way back. so I waved at my friends from afar. and we started walking home.Buona notte. “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. 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. . Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water! 16 .
and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. seaworthy. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. sheets. The Nostromo was small.Yes. sure. is this true? . and a striped sailor shirt. blankets. pillows. wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. She was smiling and joking. My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel. for the boat? I did indeed. and she instructed me to go and get it. “Felipe. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. and taking me with her. She turned to me. but it was a beautiful. I’ve done it before…I had done it. 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.Christina. . It lived in the harbor. . but she added that if Mr. un minuto per favore…”she said. I had a few occasions to go out on the boat. and we were packing essentials for overnight.She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. Felipe says you can handle working the jib. I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. Felipe agreed. Then. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. less than 30 feet long. After my parents separated. I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother.Do you know where the “big bag” is. . Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement. my parents’ sailboat. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. Francesca looked ready. including my mystery book of course. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then.As I walked out. some pots and pans. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor. She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe. says Francesca. my mother decided she hated the sea. 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. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me 17 . As I was finishing breakfast. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities. it looked like it was all set.
it was time to sail. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. he pulled out the plank. She was a smooth. She was slender and strong. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. as I had not been sailing for a long time. but also intimidated to be out there. and nothing seemed to come easily. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. with calm seas and a soft breeze. I tried not to stare at her. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. There were very few other boats around. On the boat. Francesca started the engine. Fortunately. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. with skin the color of light rosewood. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. The shackles were rusty with salt. I poked around in the cabin for a while. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. When she came up from diving. In the water.everything step by step. and swam around with Francesca. Finally. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. waved at him. Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. I was nervous. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. she was all fluidity and elegance. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. and then I jumped from the bow. This put the breeze at our back. Then he helped us open the duffel. and we were off. and she 18 . Once we passed the jetty. We dropped anchor. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. We did one clumsy port tack. I felt privileged. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. almost alone with her. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. easy swimmer. ideal for apprentice sailors. It looked like a perfect day though. in a tribute to her natural beauty. drinks in hand. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all.
.I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. She handed me my drink.No. Does it bother you when people recognize you? . the desperate ones. They are so into each other. the scenery was breathtaking. they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings. The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood. other than yourself. watching the sun go down. to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray. with all kinds of hand gestures. . Francesca was asking: .made Pastis for both of us.And do they get to see it? I looked at her. Too many people… . though.No. and we sat on the deck side by side. . The sun was half way gone. I’ve had them all at one point or another. In it. . but I have read the novel by Jules Verne. But I always think my job is to act.Well. that they miss the ray altogether. it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands.You seemed to be OK last night. I’ve known them all. And all they see is love…the light of love.The common wisdom is that acting is great.Christina. It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time. . have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? . the icky ones.But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play. they are not foreign to me.What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. But it’s all right… 19 . and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds. because you can be many different people. Not to be on public display like that… . and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream. Coming back up. the good ones. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting. When she explained something. And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes. she truly talked like an Italian.
I do. I was determined to direct the conversation. Then. . I was sailing alone when I was about your age… . I have Tomaso. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind. . . I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . So. I love Tomaso. but no green ray was showing up. 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. I was the one who looked away first. and I had a little bit of rose wine. and it opened the door to more important questions.Yes.My family lives near Naples. California. but he is not the marrying kind. Francesca looked genuinely moved. let me see… 20 . while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove.No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then. . people like me and my husband love each other.Do you…huh…do you love your husband? . I love him very much.Well. to find that the sun was at the green ray point.I don’t know for sure. I wanted to know everything about Francesca.And he doesn’t mind? .Do you still live in Naples? .What is it that makes someone a great lover? . .Hmm…sometimes. Just like in the story. She had made another batch of Italian pasta. My father and I would go sailing all the time.Does your husband know about Tomaso? .Yes he does. She got up and decided to make dinner.Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? . but most of the time we live in Malibu. but it was only something from a book. She had mentioned her husband.How come you know how to sail like that? .. He is a good friend and a great lover.
however.Do you. you know. . and Indian. . She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me.What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with. like. but I think he read it somewhere. . I’m in love with Selena.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it. 21 .What about Selena Hirschberg? .Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . . believe me. I am. she is…too good maybe.You’re in love with Selena? . but I appreciated her effort. . That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her.Well.Is that good or bad? . if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are.Yes. I was still on the attack.Well. it feels very good…but I think in the long run. I do. don’t you think? . Anytime I can.Bambi says you sleep with her. . And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! .I don’t know. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you. I was remaining silent. You would love her too… . so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me. trying to wrap my mind around all of this. She is beautiful.Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive. . make love with Selena and all that stuff? .You love a lot of people. it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew. .Yes.She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! . fiery. You are not left alone out there. Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. I said.Yes.
Cappella. .Yes now! Come on. She laughed. . I could hear night birds flapping their wings. my heart is full…but there is always room for more. Betelgeuse.Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . looking at the sky.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm. hardly making a splash. So. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium. I took off all my clothes as well. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me. Goldilocks… I was making them up. I thought…I’ve got to do it. at least some of them… I started naming them. . but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. the Little Bear. Out from behind the cove. On saying this. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters. Rigel.Yes. There were so many stars. The water felt incredibly warm. There I was. she suddenly got up. I do. . all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. this was the life…indeed… 22 . and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell.Yes sweetheart. .Tell me more… Sirius. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this. We swam a little far from the boat. the Big Bear. Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me. Vega de la Lyre. It all seemed like a dream. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves. and to dive head first from the boat into the night. Francesca was listening intensely. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. . the Medium Bear. I could see Francesca floating on her back. I was floating too. Orion. I could not see her very well. I was saying the names in French. that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. Oh.Let’s go for a swim! . she proceeded to take off all her clothes. and floated on our backs looking at the stars. Arcturus. and the stars began to fade.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting.. you know.
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.
he is on the list to finance my next film. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. and walked over to where I could look at the little coves on the South side of the island. that was Stavros Spanodakis. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. .Ah. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys. The production company would love for me to give him a little push. I loved Francesca. . a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. There we had 26 . He came to the island on the Orion every now and then. as Bambi would say. and almost made it to my favorite spot. and I could still feel her lips on mine. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment. I loved the look of her skin. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. 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 would much rather stay with you. but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. and maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat. I was pedaling with a vengeance. There we had been. We would have talked about all kinds of adult things. and how I had hoped she would never pull away. This was my last evening with Francesca. the Greek billionaire. I was not a lesbian. and I was not even truly an adult. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. I brushed off the pine needles. mainly about love. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. a dyke. I lay down for a long time. I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor.. her hair. without having to walk the bike. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. Ah. her eyes. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there. She would have taken my hand. good…should be fun.Sweetie. I slept for a while. I was distressed. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion.You know Christina. I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper.
The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near. There we had truly loved each other. a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying.Allo? This is Demosthenes. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. She was breathtakingly beautiful. all right. But I could see there was light on the yacht. I saw Francesca. in a white evening gown that brought out her tan. I was sure of it. I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. After dinner. I could not help but smile… . It could be my mother. . with me walking 27 .spent the night together. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner.La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. I said yes. Next to her was Demosthenes. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor. She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo. 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. Simone and I had dinner together. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca. Spanodakis. I am purser for Mr. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle. standing by the golf cart. Simone went to her little bungalow. possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it. When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. She was wearing turquoise earrings. She walked toward me.Oh.Yes? . the phone rang. No one can take this back. and gold sandals. and turned and waved at Demosthenes. and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. I could not really see anything and I went back home. I will let her know. as I got off the bike and we started toward home. on foot. At the gate to the pier. 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. . At around eleven. Instead.
I wanted to take care of her. . . in mock annoyance. I chose the best glass for Francesca. and poured her a nice tall glass.Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide. .Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. what do you think!? .No.Yes. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness.Christina. Follow it all the way and don’t look back. But you see. You can’t go wrong. . Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier. She was giving me no details. My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone.It was good. She held mine in return. then follow it. .the bike. . how was it? I asked. The first thing she did was take off her shoes. back to the house.Christina! No.Sweetheart.Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie.So. If it does. and I was feeling possessive. This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school. do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? . I got some ice water from the refrigerator. of course not. But she was still in charge. . . not really wanting to know… . and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more. So we sat in the kitchen.How do I know when something is really good? 28 . I am very thirsty. I can say no. please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked. as a matter of fact he did. I reached for her hand across the table. a red crystal one with cut designs. It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… .
. As we were walking toward our rooms. Sleep was entirely out of the question. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep.Oh my…said Francesca. You do something really good. I was not sad anymore. She finished her glass and got up. trying to understand what she was saying. too fast. and every sensation seemed amplified. I did too.I will miss you. to remain within me forever. But what 29 . I went out into the patio. I wanted this being that I had become today. The sensation was so strange and so powerful.I will miss you too. my angel. almost in a gasp. She went into her room and closed the door. you can take it with you anywhere. because it stays with you. I said. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. that I had to breathe in and out. OK? She waited for my answer. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. She kissed my neck. . When I joined them. just below the ear. and I could imagine her. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. I was holding her very tight. I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. it was time to go to bed. trying to never forget. . . the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. Tesoro.. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room. I could hear the night crickets. It never goes away. it sticks to you. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air.You know it. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me. My heart was light. and it will keep. You drink too much. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. though you don’t always know it at first. a strange energy was running through me. I was looking at her. it feels good. as she gently released me. come on sweetie. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark. but I knew she was there. she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace.OK.
she waved at the crowd. disappearing behind its own wake. and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. She gave me a hug. but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva. When we parked by the wharf. closest to the speedboat. I did not quite know what the adventure was. Jean-Remy and their parents. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago. I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. I was the last one. it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca. and off they went.Well. the chrome step. and then I will fly to Los Angeles. The reporter from Nice-Matin was there. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. Veronica and their parents. Mr. and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. She went to my friends. the one policeman of the island. while she sat next to the driver in front. but I knew that it had turned me upside down. I looked at the speedboat. cameras in hand. and whispered in my ear. the varnished wood. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. after she kissed him. You’ll have to come and visit me… I hopped in the back of the jeep with the bags and off we went toward the harbor. so were Ondine. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat. Then she came to me. 30 . At 10:30. the postman. I helped load her bags in the back.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile. to Toulon. . then Paris. With Bambi. . When they passed the jetty. and I could swear I saw him blushing. it rose up like a rearing horse. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap. when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. Next to them. and kissed them all on both cheeks.Where are you going now? . the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. I saw Bambi.Oh. Francesca was very gracious as usual. warmer to my heart than a thousand suns.
But I was determined not to cry. When no one was around to distract me. I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. Selena was indeed very beautiful. I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed. with long black hair and very intense black eyes. walk with her. Simone was sad to see me go. When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. and my eyes were stinging. talk to her. When my mother called. Tropez. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her. How good was she. . I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me.No one…no one told me.Felipe. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. In St. favoring swimming and walking alone. and shook his finger at me. but was happy to be able to close the house.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . we sat on the crowded beaches. I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia. I just want to know what it means… . I kept imagining Francesca instead of 31 . One night. gossiped and drove around with the older kids. to being with my friends. . and we all went to see it. really? The love scenes were light and tasteful. I asked him. Tropez. That’s what it means. in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre. go home and join her son in Vendee.I had a big lump in my throat. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. She agreed. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg.It means “I love you”. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. I read it somewhere. I was in a trance. We went dancing until dawn. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed. and decided that I needed a change of pace. I could swim with her.
He himself also lived in Rome. and since I never heard from her. though I very seldom spoke to him. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. because I had read that she had left Hollywood and had returned to Italy to live in Rome with her husband. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. When you love someone who is in the public eye. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. My mother was not very forthcoming. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. and we all returned to Paris. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. and went on to the Sorbonne for an intermediary year. I don’t really remember… Finally. or a famous cop. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. There. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. I went to see all her movies. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. I went back to school. the summer wound down.the male protagonist. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. or maybe calling her. They were separated and they had no reason to keep them. Guillaume. And so I did. and often saw her on television. However. Every once in a while. I would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. I eventually let my life drift away from the memories of that summer. This part of my life was over. 32 . This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. Many times. I thought of writing to Francesca. Yet. just as I had escaped the island for St. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. including my mother who finally came back. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. 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. read about her. or a saint. I grew shy about contacting her. Tropez two years before. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California.
as it was already time to go to the screening. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes. and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. she said. and to please thank Francesca for us. and 33 . I did not have time to enjoy the room. I picked it up. I had friends. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes.Sorry. After all these years. I wanted to look as good as possible. but I hate the Festival. 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 was flabbergasted. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. I enjoyed the drive.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. One morning in May. except maybe books and films. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. I was surprised and excited. She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. I took a quick shower. but the task had seemed daunting. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. and said that of course we would attend. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. their conversations and their sexual games. I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother. all by myself. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. I left early in the morning. I could not believe it. and checked in. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. I was eighteen years old. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. and if so. I was secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. to put it mildly. I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. I did not know what to expect or what to think. the phone rang. I had flirted. . Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. I went to the hotel. put on my dress. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris. I picked up my ticket at the will call. on the day of the screening.
It was a great success. everything. Francesca was on screen most of the time. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. the crowd roared and applauded. and how little I had given her in return. to have come all this way to honor her. and then I saw her. designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. the drive. it was all worthwhile. after the screening. I was happy to be there. She always drew people to her. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. but had never brought me with them. There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. and she was good. The film was harsh and violent. I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time. There were no love scenes. and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. The scene inside was exciting. 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. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. thinking of all she had given me. some of them I had met before. and she gave me the suite number. as she walked toward the stage. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty. some woman came over to me. She was surrounded with people and photographers. but none of them would ever recognize me. This was my first time at Cannes. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. The director came to take a bow. She was very popular in France. back then… As the end credits rolled. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. especially since she had left Hollywood. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. I had to cross to the beach side. That was fine with me. I was only interested in one of them. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. Finally. My parents had gone often. and I kept bumping into people. I got to 34 . I had a brief moment of guilt. the dress. She saw me. Suddenly. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. and walking on the Croisette.
. but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human.Sorry. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together. surrounded by people holding champagne flutes. with straight longish brown hair. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. She gave me a hug. I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. . and a charming manner. carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne. At some point. and we started talking about the film. look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room.Oliver. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. She asked me if I felt good about it. At the second glass of 35 . She caressed my cheek briefly. and did not offer any more details. She had to move into the next room. Oliver. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. and an elegant older man opened it. He held out his hand. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me. but he made me feel at ease and welcome. and we had a few private minutes to talk. His name was Oliver Schneider. and various appetizing canapes. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older. He sat next to me on the couch. she called…come say hello to my Christina. and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood.the hotel. dressed in a tuxedo. about California. I knocked on the door. and our hands touched. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. They were going to distribute the film. We both reached out for the same one.Christina! Oh. Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. Dio mio. I found him very attractive. He was extremely handsome. and asked me if how I knew Francesca. . . I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. and found the suite without getting lost.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 then took my hand. and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her.
“You are so sophisticated!”. He came to us. Every now and then. Most people had left. and we 36 . and looking into each other’s eyes. but I took it in all the same. Everything was perfect. We were reclining on the couch. I was looking at him as he was driving. I said yes. He opened it. I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. smile.Nah. and went down to the lobby with Oliver. I grabbed my jacket. But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. . I felt so glamorous and grown up. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. Isn’t it great? It was. .champagne I was beginning to feel good. We got up and went out on the terrace to look at the row of palm trees and the ocean sparkling in the moonlight. He took his key and we went down to his room. I was a little bit nervous. and said goodnight. and gently stroke my arm. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. He said that Francesca was very tired. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. he said to me. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. on this most anticipated adventure. I rented it…the company pays for it. and I did not see Francesca. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. This dashing young man was taking me. I kissed him back. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. We arrived at Eden Roc. and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview. then turned away to go back to the living room. in a convertible Bentley. and I could not imagine better circumstances. and he kissed me very lightly. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. Ten minutes later. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. little old me. the breeze was cool but not cold. he would turn to me. right by the water.Come with me to my hotel. of course not. It was a suite. I knew he was wrong. I wanted it to happen.Is this your car? . he said. We were standing very close to each other. I said I would be there. You’ll see.
So this was what made the world go round. we drank. he got up and went into the bathroom. He got back into bed.Here’s to us. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air. turned away from me. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me. The pain was not too bad. and then turned off the light as he undressed and I took off my underwear. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat. it had been very enjoyable.Don’t worry…I will be careful. I got up. he said. I felt sticky and afraid to move. I was getting really cold. Our glasses clinked for the toast. I felt numb and detached. know everything and be fully present. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it. I went back to the room. Afterwards. . Oliver was kind and gentle. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep.Are you taking birth control? He asked. There were no stars. Oh well. I was shivering in the water. At first. I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position. But then. The water was cold. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. I thought. . 37 . and then he kissed me. “You have beautiful shoulders”. I was sorry that the lights were out. I started drifting off and isolating myself.No. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries. because I wanted to see everything. and the clouds were attacking the moon. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. whatever that was. . . but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. exciting sensation. I was for a time. There was enough light from the hotel above to see that there were rock steps going into the water. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little. he said. He undid my dress. I am not. and I went down. and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. and went outside. at the critical moment. Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight.went out on the deck.
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. this is Francesca. last night. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. and rushed to my room. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. when he was returning to California. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad.Oliver was still asleep. and put on my travelling clothes. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. it was already eight o’clock. This morning. under the covers. Somehow. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. and all kinds of trivial questions. We exchanged phone numbers. dressed in tennis whites. and off we went. asking him where he was going. It was five minutes to nine. . Oliver came out smiling and handsome. I picked it up. and I did not linger. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. The sky was overcast. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. I know it is early. I led the conversation. He did not argue very much. He noticed my expression of dismay. and we need to be at the 38 . and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. so we left the top up. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. I took a shower. but my mind was already with Francesca. I went into the bathroom.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. I wanted to hide it from her. When I woke up to the sound of the shower. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. I got up and was mortified to see that there was a blood stain on the otherwise pristine white sheets of the prestigious Eden Roc Hotel. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. I picked up my key. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. So he took me to the Martinez. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. and ran hot water all over myself.
The words came out of me on their own. I was relieved. out of breath and disheveled.Ciao Christina! .Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca. Finally. sweetie…go for the good life.Sorry Francesca. . “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. 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. I must have grown.airport at 9:30. once at the sign. and she disappeared behind it. I was holding her very tight. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. Please come. I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. There. but rushed and fell into her arms. Francesca spotted me immediately. to not have to wait for the red lights. Marco was waving at me from the other side. uncontrolled. The window started going up. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. I would ask Francesca if we were really in love 39 . but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. way out there on the Croisette. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. as now my cheek was right against hers. . I crossed over on the beach side. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. . -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. Christina…but we need to go. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. Francesca was calm as usual. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it.Don’t be sad. I could not see inside. The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. We can’t afford to miss this plane. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. I looked over to the other side. The tinted glass was too dark. then glided on toward Nice.
I had to find out her address. I think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. but did not see him. taller. Besides. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. driving to school. I don’t think they would have been very supportive. I looked for Tomaso. a languid feeling would come 40 . and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. But I did not do it of course. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use. I was in my car. I guess. I did not attend. Sometimes. I was just alone. looking despondent. aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. I was so stunned. and now. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. with some other family members that I did not know. I hated taking birth control pills. after she had invited me. now that I was not only older. I had to return the car to my mother. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. Why was I so eager to lose my virginity that night of all nights? Why did I insist on changing at the Martinez. Francesca was their friend. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. I saw Marco. I finished school eventually. full of regret and unanswered questions. And if so. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. My mother did not attend. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. and not mine. way back then. then I would insist that we do something about it. but a real woman. I could swear in one of the newscasts. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. I found solace in playing music and singing. 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 stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. As it turns out. I did not have my passport with me. It was during a week of finals for me in California. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. I was in the middle of finals. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio.with each other.
It was a beautiful sunny day. In California where I live. no. tell me life is good. always seem more alive and more at ease than 41 . tell me in Italian! . order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping. . in the chic part of Silicon Valley. or even write one if so inclined. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. perfect. or read a book. or inhospitable for any reason. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old. In my case. even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. You can sit on the terrace and people watch. and an eventual movie. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. -Tell me that you love me… . a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. 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.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. amore. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way.Life is good.over me to assuage my loneliness. to visit family and old friends. Francesca would be there with me. I had come to Paris.Francesca. there are cafes. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California.No. across from Le Bon Marche department store. and I would imagine our dialog… . on that warm day in June. with friends or alone. where I was born. or cool. . There is no implication of the place being special. and to a semi-Californian it is always amazing to see and feel how animated the Paris streets are and how the passers-by.I do…I love you. Here in Paris.
leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. men or whooping cranes. and Marie liked it. like grey fruit ready to be picked. it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. started interfering with my side of the conversation. wavering. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. weathering flashes of interest. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. After she left me. 42 . Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison.the crowds in Hollywood. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. whether it is between women. Besides. and the thought of her. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. show or otherwise. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness. I was having a lively discussion with my friends. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. or even in San Francisco. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. I knew a lot about them. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. insidious. There were pigeons everywhere. I don’t believe they were really interested either. 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.
here it was again. which I did with some success. Marie had a straight Greek nose. and pursued the conversation. She got up and went inside. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. He hates it. make it wild and funny. and even though it was not really elegant. I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. and she had beautiful. and the audience hates it too. The anecdotes kept pouring in. the woman looked remotely like Marie. facing the rounded sidewalk. We were sitting at the narrow end of it. willing my thoughts away from California and back here. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. He was asking me questions about a common friend. and how I had met her. and to be present in the conversation. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. 43 . I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something. Her expression was soft and bright. a woman was sitting. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. as if I was on stage.I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. Next to us. She sat down. George and Francine were in stitches. I started telling the story. Unbelievably. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. huge green eyes. and they could do no wrong. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. The woman was thin. as if during an intermission. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. The terrace was fairly empty. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. She looked at me very briefly. She was reading a book. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. she was smiling while looking in my direction. She was drinking a café-crème. across from the doorway. She did not look like Marie in the least after all. put on her Ray Bans. unlike Marie. at the terrace of the Babylone. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. it made her face look exotic. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. She came back very soon. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”. I felt some relief. Her book was still there. I had seen the movie long time ago. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace.
We said goodbye again. old people. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain. I hopped on. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. The insane. in Paris. and the woman this time did not look up.My heart started pounding. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. nuns. I took in the white collar. ready to 44 . We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. Then before I even knew it. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. their favorite mode of transportation. beige oversize canvas handbag. But the train was prompt and ready. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. as if in a dream. There I was right here in the land of my youth. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out. and I rushed into the station. we were gone. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. I am in love. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. in this café. I got up too. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. George and Francine were getting ready to leave. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. We came back. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat. But that was precisely what attracted me. Here. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. grey sweater. and shady characters. and my mind was racing all over the place. tight black pants. that I would have these feelings here. This is ridiculous. and white tennis shoes. I thought. Just like that. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball.
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. Everything happens for a reason. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. and if things did happen for me. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. for the first time since losing Alison. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. What to do? What if I came back to the café. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. which would also make me very uncomfortable. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. what if? Chapter Two The train. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not 45 . On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. I automatically assumed the woman was French. She is tres amusante!”. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire. By the way. Besides. here I am. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. and it was all for a reason. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. Maybe I am attracted to the woman because I don’t know anything about her…Alison style…But what if she was a friend of somebody I knew? Shudder…What if. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. where I belonged. I’ve read all her books.
It smells bad. He does not seem to recognize me. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it. I’ll run into George and Francine. if I wait any longer.J’aime votre montre. she can leave anytime. where does it come from? . In French as I feared. and said: .Quatre heures dix.running. I’m not. Someone gave me the face as a present. The escalator. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch.Excusez moi… She spoke to me. It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… . I sit down at the terrace. Up. and I bought the band where I live. and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. she will be gone. but I have lived there for twenty years. If I go slowly. I see the waiter bringing stuff. it is dark. I’ll have a café crème. I can go twice as fast. at the same table where I was with George and Francine. pretending to make a phone call. I sort of designed it. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. but she spoke to me! . but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps. in California. with an empty café crème in front of her. mind you. out into the sunlight. She is still there. Ten past four. Besides. I said in English also. . If I go fast. here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. I said in French. She does not look up. and that is good. but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before. but walking very fast.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. and she is reading the book. s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. I come back up. I walk past her and go inside the café. Up the stairs…No. up. I was all wrong. I can’t aim properly in Turkish toilets (how do real people do it?) and it would not do any good to come back up with wet shoes.Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. -No. asking me what I want. tennis or not. .Well. God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. 46 . She still has not looked up. What do I do now? The waiter comes. Downstairs.
I said: -Oh. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. but it paid well. I said in pure American ritual. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with. with no warning. This man and this woman meet in a café. Her smile was absolutely devastating. she was from New York. I said. She was beautiful. seemed to have trouble swallowing. my work at the theatres. it is very short. and whom I still cared about a great deal.You speak French beautifully. I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends. she said. nothing happens. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever. . and it’s the end. She did not look like Marie at all. I am one. this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. She took off her glasses and put down her book. warm and maybe a little sad. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time.Well. The conversation flowed very easily. an easy. I’m glad to meet you. cheerful laugh. yes? . and it gave her a visa. -Hi Christine. 47 . mind you. Linda said. at the beginning of June. Right now.. And then it came. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with. She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. I explained to her my situation.Oh. Her name was Linda. she said. no preparation. let alone working with the ones we love…She too. no calculation. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. I introduce myself to her. fast and easy. my failed music career. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. there was a lull in the programming. I am from New York. We laughed together. -Linda. My name is Linda. and I was not nervous anymore. She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations.
define it. strong and true. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. and shook her head. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. I’d like to go with you. as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine. -Not really. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. how. I had been brave. and still not die a horrible death in the end. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. I looked at my mountain watch again. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model. and who paid for what. how he created the character of Ripley. Here I was. and I felt so totally comfortable that I didn’t even resent the fact that the conversation started rolling on safer subjects. and come out of it all happier. 48 . like movies and books. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. or the woman who managed to be proven right. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. -Were you going alone? -Yes. I said it half heartedly. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men. Courage. I wanted to understand everything. intelligence. but I have no real recollection as to when. and how I liked most of his films. . wiser.Linda smiled. and said: -If that’s OK. gloriously. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. simply. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. about Ridley Scott. and maybe I had just made a new friend. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. But. open it up to the air. the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. it’s all the same. and kinder. I had come back to the café. So. women. these days. The good part was that I had been open with her. The street. Four forty five. I was supposed to go visit a friend.
Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. -Not really. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute. It was very exciting. When the lights dim in a theatre. and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. and the film itself was about to start. It’s no fun. then he met this Italian model. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. I asked. it was better than nothing. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. -I know the feeling. it’s simple. As I spoke. My host was very sweet. Julien and I were together for two years. and we went all the time. because I did not have any expectations. I did not feel nervous. the houselights went down. and I felt like visiting royalty. If we could be friends. But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. 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. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends. -What happened with your boyfriend. I said. but it’s very recent. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. and things are not yet very clear between us. Where did the train tracks use to be? I said I had no idea. The details were slim. she said. I said. and now he is with her. and I might as well find out the details. She smiled. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation.I was taken aback by the request. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. I loved going to movies with Alison. 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. Once we were seated. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going 49 . -Oh. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. Sometimes. I said that would be quite all right. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural.
but somehow exhilarating and empowering. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. I turned to her and thanked her too. Equally seriously. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. I have to run. in a strange sort of way. At the end of the film. Linda seemed to react. I felt like I knew her. and I held a stiff position most of the time so our legs would not touch and I could maintain an excruciating formal distance. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. turned around. -Well. As we walked out into the still sunny street.to movies again after she and Marie broke up. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . because she stopped. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them. Thank you very much for letting me come along. it’s late. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. -Oops. The film was good. She shook my hand formally. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. but I always kept it in check. violent at times. It was very sad. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any 50 . and where anything was possible including friendship. and rushed down into the Metro. The whole experience was strange. I’m having dinner with a friend. you know” I did not have the time to answer. she grabbed my wrist. nice meeting you too. and I’m already very late. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. The temptation was not far. but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the screen.I loved it. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone. It was only to look at my watch. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. and while the plot was progressing. including love. and our cheeks would touch. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples.
nor exactly where she lived. honey. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. it’s on theirs too!”. just to have someone to go to the movies with. stupidly. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. doesn’t appreciate you. and very silently. cruelty or indifference. I was. but it was too late. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. to keep my attention on anything. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. and anything 51 . How could I have lost her so soon! Chapter Three It was very difficult at home. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner.plans. I did not know her last name. and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. for once. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. Now. So I would talk to her and try to make her see how valuable our relationship was. then she would have wanted to. it felt to me that I could be one of these. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. But in a way also. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. She would listen to me very patiently. I always found this to be quite true. and it’s the end. 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. In a way. How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. let them go. and not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. I had vanquished my own passivity. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. They meet. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. nothing happens. But these days.
If there was some truth to all this. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. Then. It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing. No. you said. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. I had an idea. she would be there. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. No big deal. Yet my feelings were so strong. and we had gone to a movie together. it was time for practical considerations.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. I can still fall in love. Yes. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”. Be remote. 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. and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. she would contradict her previous statements. Here’s to you. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. When Marie left her. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow. and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me. Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. What to do? And suddenly. and you will have everything. the next day. because I was open about my potential availability. I could see her face. you know. I always felt then. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. unattainable. Marie-like nose and all. Well. maybe it was time for good timing now. Bad timing. and therefore undesirable. 52 . and that was why I liked her so much. pleasure. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. and that I was bound to lose every time. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. Above all else. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. I could go lurking there until she showed up.
There is nothing going on there. and it still had that liberating. and look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. which I guess soothed me a little. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. Yet there were crazy things that could be done. uncertainty. that gave you some power even though you had none. 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. It would give me something to do in the afternoons. Maybe that was what life was all about. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. I am crazy. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. 53 . Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. I’m not so hard to please after all. rebellious aura to it. “Thelma and Louise”. but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. Stop. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. and the way I felt now. and in between movies. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. and every time I closed my eyes. Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. Stop that too…One day. I kept trying to sleep. Ah! But here I go again. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. What fun. Then. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together. Something is going on there. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. “Village of the Damned”. I could never forget it. in a nondescript café. 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. risked. and not take any risks.Or maybe she would not be there. Don’t think about Alison. Sleep. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. Linda…I don’t even know Linda.
big deal. Out on the street. and everything was going to be OK. lurk Rue de Nevers. Create something different with life. Besides. So here I was. I went in. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. different. Maybe she was a regular. through the store almost running. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. I must have slept for three hours all and all. go and go to the Babylone. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. it was worth it. Too early. She was not there. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. look stupid and not know what to do with myself. I started feeling better. I’ll do what I can. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. her loss! I will never see Linda again. Five past four. My watch. It took forever to reach the bookstore. Oh well. to have breakfast with my mother. that would be fun. Marguerite Duras. I went down to the telephone. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. Parking was going to be a pain. It was there all right. I walked up the stairs. it was three thirty. but not on the shelf. and stared at everybody. Pocket books? Yes. and came back down to call a friend. OK. No Linda.I woke up very early. It’s time. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. Yes. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. Alison does not want me. spy at the TV station. Worried about parking. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. What else is there in the world than unique. and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. pretending again to make a phone call. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. Maybe she was inside. Brick walls were not necessary. Francoise had advised me to go. I went upstairs. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. do it all. I had the car today. something unique and wild. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. let’s go up and see. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes. My mountain watch. Maybe rain was in the air this time. 54 . Besides. this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. wait. She will tell you to get lost and you will. OK. Look up the listings. Ha ha. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. At least you tried. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. It was cloudy today. Maybe he knew her. Friends were the only solid value these days.
She put her hand on my shoulder and said: “So you are a regular here after all!” I 55 . and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Alison. and sat at the terrace. walking in that general direction. even though I did not quite understand it. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. I bought the book. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. too late to go to the Babylone. I looked at my watch: four thirty. The next morning. I had the car again. I did not even look at anything. since I was so tired. pretending that I was someone else than I was. Like that. I went back down into the parking lot. Come on. I think from the inside of the café. dejected. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. and schedules. It seemed forlorn and deserted. and decided to go to the café. I will not come back tomorrow. I checked the Pariscope for films. The car was the other way. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. be real. I have too much to do. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot. have lunch with some members of my family. I had parked it on the street. drove the car out. The waiter came. It was all a ridiculous fantasy.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. Here it is again. I went and enjoyed the film. a once in a lifetime spot. theatres. I cannot wait any longer. furious at her. just in case. Let’s waste some more time. and just start reading it. I was. I had seen everything. all these figments of my fertile imagination. careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. Linda. I slept better than the night before. and I ordered a sparkling water. here it is second shelf from bottom. It was too late. I went to a friend’s house for dinner. Forget it. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. I was going to be a normal person. That’s far enough. I had my day organized in such a way. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. and this time. a fool with Linda. at everything. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. but what the hell. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. however. Twenty past four. Quarter to five. The irony was just perfect now. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content. No one was there. Here’s a bookstore. and had a good time. on your right. That’s that. a fool all the way.
. interesting and interested. I’ll be here! She got up. it was like the world. I turned around. but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half. . Linda said as she sat down next to me. everything fell into place. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up. Her smile hit me again. . maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! . and it is happening. She looked great. She laughed. with no shirt collar underneath. the universe.Well. not really. A joke… What a joke. and touched my arm gently.was too shocked to answer anything at all.Yes. Now is the time to enjoy things. I felt so incredibly strong. This is what was meant to happen. Yet here she was. . soft. as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag.Five o’clock.See you then! She was gone. . Here it was! It was late. Her eyes were made of cool green. I am. exciting. . It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the 56 . looking straight into my eyes. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. Life is really starting now. but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”. I won’t stand in the way. I was hoping to find you again. I had forgotten their power. and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. I have to meet someone for work now. I did not know how to get in touch with you. Are you a regular here? .I’ll tell you what. Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating.No problem.No. Her manner of approach was not very varied. soothing. as a matter of fact. intelligent. all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say.Well. I knew I had bought it for a reason. and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. lugging that huge bag. “What time is it?”. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. I laughed. What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling.
and that it was wrong. to think that one could replace the other. like everything else is good in small quantities. but it won a major award. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. in some strange way. I liked it. Not everything should be explainable anyway. I won’t disappoint you. 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. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. but no one can really explain to you what they are. I said to the preciousness of the moment. and tried very hard not to think for a while. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. like Katharine Hepburn used Elizabeth Taylor in “Suddenly Last Summer”? Maybe she was trying to get her boyfriend’s new girlfriend interested in women so she would leave him alone? I was getting goofy and was thinking of ordering some alcoholic drink to calm my nerves. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. I’ll make the best of it! Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. 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. dead wrong. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. I wonder why Linda was reading it. I should know. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. The narrative was ominous. and if she was. Alcohol. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. I was happy to see that all and all. that woman is obscure. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up 57 . and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. I guess that’s possible. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. God.present. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. But what if.
what does one do? Light a cigarette. I did! What a relief. But when you get to be forty. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. Ah. It may seem like a long time now. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. that’s how long it takes. just in case I had to leave fast. especially in love. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me. money and fame. she’s beautiful. Here’s the waiter. not thirsty.everything. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great. I was not hungry.“Moderato Cantabile”. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. suddenly she was back. with battlements and all. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight. 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. Should I prepare for good things. . so I don’t have to wonder anymore. Linda is coming back soon. She smiled as if she understood. and then. Somehow. 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. Five minutes. 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.I was curious to read what you were reading. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. I’m sure. Everything seemed to come very easily around her. I was rambling on and on. We’ve all got bad luck. What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight. I was starting to feel a little bored. before I even had the time to really worry… . nothing ever works for us. The brick wall was in place. But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. It’s OK. The pigeons seemed to have calmed down. forget it. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me. and ask me to dinner out of the blue. but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. and I was careful to pay right away. 58 . getting slightly crazy. ten if you really nurse it. heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating. I did not hate it.
and I remember forcing myself to like it. We had done pretty well going to the movies. and we had a nice conversation about these drinks.It is still early. The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun. Alison…Alison. light. for the first time since we had met. and you can make it just the right strength. . Linda was looking at me in a strange way. feel somewhat connected. I had looked at her. Ricard or Pernod. and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. 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. Pastis . the liquor of oblivion. nothing. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again. I had something to lose. Pastis . This is life. listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. all of a sudden. I was nervous.Where shall we go? It was early still. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up.. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet. Her face was soft and gentle. made from various plants including artichokes.What’s going on? I lied. without water or ice. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant. at some point during my adolescence. I had thought. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. She heartily agreed and we went inside. I think I’ll have a Pastis. . I offered. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy. but never explained by schoolteachers. We needed something to link us together. Linda laughed. . She was sitting on her haunches. It used to be in vogue. but this was different. Tailor made. I felt shy. This woman loves me and I love her. I was far from hungry.Oh. diluted in water is refreshing. the bastard sons of absinth. 59 . The thought of going now seemed impossible to me.
I worked for ten hours in a row. I was amazed at the effect she had on me. describing it all with great hand gestures. and I had nothing on her. tell me more about yourself… 60 . smiling. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles.So. In the open. where is home now? Linda was explaining something. Yet. thin fingers. She was looking up. I said she could never have a Fernet ever. I was letting myself stare at her. “As the room is softly fading.I was so busy yesterday. Work was not really work. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. Alison was home. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. poems. saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. daring and devastatingly original. I’m glad I had some time today. It was getting dark. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence. I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. I said. Home…I guess California was home to me now. I can only kiss your shadow. Songs. . and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. 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. Her hands were beautiful. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. with long. Hell. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. Everything was just fine. and she kept pushing it back. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. . or will she send me a note ten years from now. as far as I knew. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye. everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship. at least in my thoughts. because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. and still live a perfectly happy life. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. It felt great to watch her do that.It looked like mud. and one silver ring on the right hand. trimmed nails. everything was always new and exciting.
give me some clue… . It did not really matter to us whose family had money. patron saint of transportation. I just like all these legends and stories. . and all that. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin. third generation American. I only had my mother.No. 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. Sorry. I need the other person to be a part of it too. as my father had passed away a few years earlier. On and on we went. where they came from. but that I would do it for her sake. One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her. So. an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant. and her last name was Christoforos. Both her parents were still alive. but I didn’t go. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas. As I was telling her everything I could think of. For some reason at first. as she asked me about my parents. the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless. oh no. and she learned some about me. Christopher. so I have none to tell.Oh. Linda. as in St. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… . Hell. There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. and religions are full of them. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. That’s the fun part. who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . I learned bits of trivia about her. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. as if anything we shared 61 . I felt better than I had in years about them. where we went to school. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ. to meet me halfway.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. We paid and got up. not at all. Take a couple of steps.Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”.Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette.
and I would go home feeling powerless. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. Can you read 62 . because they don’t already know me like you do”. as we were walking into the Closerie. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. as if we were saving ourselves for later.contributed to bring us closer. I would reply that I could go either way. and if it is not you it won’t be you. Getting to the car. and I knew it was the beauty from inside. but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. I had no history with Linda. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. yet none of it meant anything to her. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. our history was like a curse. and the best was yet to come. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. always seem to win out. history. we were laughing at everything. But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. It meant “Your love is a waste of time. the mahogany and green. Alison. I shall love who loves me. or “I won’t”. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing 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. staring at me softly with no fear. 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. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. our familiarity the kiss of death. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. convention. the one that was beyond looks. She looked just fine. 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. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. and will never lead to anything”. She would shut me up. It seemed that to her. whom I love more. We had the evening ahead of us.
but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way. he said au revoir. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. and were given a very nice table on the verandah. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening.it too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat. made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne. salads.Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out. but a regular if expensive commodity here. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. and I had developed an aversion to them. which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night. Next thing I know. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic.What’s happening? I asked. Linda was looking at the menu. Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. I was trying to overhear their conversation. and Linda turned back to me smiling. Yet this time. the pianist was playing “Crazy”. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. . a song I could definitely identify with. The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. a great luxury in California. after discussing the weather. and he was talking directly to me. Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other.Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! . . and we are both going to leave and say goodnight. We decided on oysters on the half shell. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky. but with a desperate sigh. as if things were getting a little hard to handle. 63 . Finally. The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary.
that’s the only way out of this. that’s Pierre. I was puzzled at myself. which did include a little bit of anxiety. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me. . . even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time. it’s funny. I don’t happen to know you very well. I sighed and got a grip on myself.He calls you Lindy? . come clean. it sort of hurt my feelings. accentuating the nickname humorously but still quite rudely because I was irritated that in the first place she had said “My friends call me Lindy” as if I could never dream of being accepted amongst this very exclusive group. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now. She kept looking at me as she was drinking.Here’s to the weirdness of life. nothing. and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. . and had not even introduced me to him. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. I like it better than Linda Louise. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers.. and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results.Oh.Yes.So what’s going on? I said not giving up. Come clean. 64 . that’s just it. and that look set everything back on track for me. remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. He is a friend of Julien’s. you know. . and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting. . . that’s how friends call me. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time. Why did I have these feelings.Well.What do you mean Lindy? I said. Also.You know. 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. she said.
and beautiful. and delicate handling. because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter. manipulative. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. . He just talked about himself. as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. But they don’t want the case solved. It felt as if she was already dead. as if anything he had to say would hurt me. solid. superficial and boring. It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone. But. like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. his own problems with his girlfriend.I guess I am still angry at them. just removed. He sees Julien all the time.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. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet. he did not say anything more about it. and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend.You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… . as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. was she? . care. It all sounded so familiar.But were there ever times when things were good? 65 . Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse. I shared some of these thoughts with Linda. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. I feel that we all need each other’s help. so he can help. Still. Don’t. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday. . and especially why they did it. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude.. . encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues.But Alison was not boring. and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole. whether it is romantic or not. or worse. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case. as usual.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing.
generous and seemingly invincible.Does it worry you that you liked it? 66 . For some reason. she said.You know. Alison was often languid. in whole. She did have a gift for happiness. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. with unbelievable beauty. leaning her head to the side. I stopped talking.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. always mysterious. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective. She was not eating but was swallowing hard. before Marie. about Alison’s good sides from our past. the food arrived. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. that of the soul within. and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. beyond conventions.As she said that. was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. mainly marijuana. the way her face would light up with youthful energy. unemotional. Sexually. But when she was herself and connected. and was interested in everything. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. . passion. as if the memory of past loves. . pure. though… . she became soft. she could be a hedonist. Linda was staring at me intensely.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. 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. vulnerable. and came out of it all sweet. Everything became magical. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. I described my joy at seeing her. and full of questions. I can’t say I did not like it. passionate and elegant at the same time. . . and an endless belief in the goodness of this world. if they were good and true. Alison. and maybe this is why wine was invented after all.It was hurried. emotionally unleashed. could fuel the present with spirit. I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. wonderful madness. I told her about Yosemite. the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there.
we were afraid to cross a certain threshold.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”.Oh.What happened after that? . . We had finished our food. It was wild. I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful. especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. Somehow. two. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances. . The champagne was almost gone.. plays. and all that. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them. After all. . and started working for a TV station there. this and that. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured. It was a little sad. I was threading on thin ice. which had not in any way altered our reality. She told me that she hoped I was happy. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. She was with some guy. I met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. it was in her past and not in her present. and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way. and I was kind of happy to see her. disturbing dream. Her name was Lisa. and I just went on my merry way. I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction. to hide my fear of vulnerability. . 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. I tried to agitate some memories. but we were both trying to ignore that power. because she was getting married the next week. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. I ran into her at a party. forget the whole thing. Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. You know. movies. with a very loud laugh.A little bit. The first one only once.How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something.I went back to New York. 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. but I was more involved with the other one. I was not with anyone at the time. 67 . There was no music playing anymore.
It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between. and how attractive they were. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja. . and plant my face in front of hers. maybe I don’t either! I said. Knock on wood. Linda’s eyes were filling up. but very self involved. It must have been rough on you. back off. he had decided to cross over to the other side. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela. I got it. We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us. Maybe if I was Marie. But I wanted my wild horses free. She said it always bothered her. with women it is different. and say: “Hey”. give me a break this time.Well. I would like him to come back so I could say no. Not in the circus. until she finally gave in and kissed me. The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize. I thought. and how the grass was always greener on the other side. . But I am probably kidding myself. OK. I could not say: believe me Lindy. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. I realized how hurt I still was about Alison.Would you want to get back with him? . and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment.I don’t know. Of course. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. Back off.I am sorry it ended like it did. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . and in the prairie.Well not really. and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. I guess. She went on talking about herself and Julien. 68 . as in reality it was seldom like that. Come on fate. . loud and clear. A bad sign. He was a journalist of some kind.She took her time to answer. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. That would have been a lie. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. you know. she said. Finally. The tamer and the tamed. Lindy. This says it all. Julien was a good guy. Give me something.
as if we both had the same impression. Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway. sagging a little. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. where I was to drop her off. Sometimes. . anxious about the way the evening would end. like a good antique. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich. whichever way it would go. and we were ready to go outside. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear.It is very nice. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope. how forward can I be. incredibly alone and rejected. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love. was like giving in to the forces of evil. maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. When the reversal finally came however. . that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. just to be 69 . when we connected. and she did not seem too scared of it. I felt betrayed and cheated. You have to come see it some time. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot. We were silent on the way to the car. and a code keypad to keep the burglars out. so back into hell I went. and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. People seemed to be having fun.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. usually for a short time. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone. I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. I’d give anything to own it. to make this into a good. smiling and looking around too. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers.Here. She came back upstairs. Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. it was comfortable. and you have to live with your impression after that. I drove straight into the narrow passage. this is where I live! The building looked very old. with an old doorway.
Will you give me your phone number. dead in its tracks. . as if I had cheated myself on something. I got back to the car. I held her tight. The least I need to do. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment.You take care too… She was gone. She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours.Yes. I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did. good night. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on.Talk to you soon.Well. None did. I like the Babylone. OK? . our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to 70 . it was just a hug. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building. California style hug. let’s! I said. We have to do it again. This was a lot of fun. She suddenly got out of the car. and then gave me a good. It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. In a panic. take care… Her voice became very soft. She went to the door. 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. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. . fished the key out of her giant purse. she said. and it felt good. honest. I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. I felt empty and incomplete. and headed for home. she turned to me and said: . The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. but all the same. I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. is get her phone number this time. . but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it. and give me yours too. As the door opened.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here. I did too. .Yes.
with a common toilet for the whole floor. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum. Everything that happened in the hallway. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison. In my mother’s building. and would only affect our lives negatively. And also of course. the City of Light and Glamour. hurried steps. right next to my ear. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head. But the brick wall had a breach. honest verbal overture. (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. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. But in the servants’ area. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed. This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. How I sat there 71 . who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me.come out and give their names openly. gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway. Otherwise. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have. 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. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. intellectual adventure you-name-it. freedom. You could hardly hear the neighbors. After my dinner with Lindy. or at least a clear. At times. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. by making some kind of a move. It could have been great. The architect had thought it all out very well. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. screams. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin.
There was some history that I had to contend with. If she did not. She would come to me when she was ready. she had already done the infamous deed. of all places. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. if not always clear. nothing was lost either. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. with somebody else. In fact. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. and swear to be with me forever. Besides. however. On the other hand. Paris. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. then if nothing was gained. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. life is too short to stop yourself from doing what you want even if it is only for the moment!”. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. let’s get on with some real fun. until she finally would have to give in.laughing at her crude approach. 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. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. Maybe it was just 72 . and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. even if she knew what could happen between us. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. and how unexpected…In Paris. she had sought me out. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. 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. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. but definitely mutual. Yet to me. as long as I kept the messages true. Other times.
Ruthie says: you might not win. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. Go ahead. without much success. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. The days went by. I kept myself busy. I was dialing her number. all right. and leave it on the machine. but if you would like to leave a message 73 . husky. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. A bonanza for shy people. there is only one way to find out. and started applying my methods for not thinking. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. this is Linda. after our dinner. more movies. Lindy Christoforos.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. seeing friends and family. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. “Hello. If you don’t play. yet totally unaffected. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. Sunday came and went. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. as I had in California. and she hadn’t called. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. straight woman in tennis shoes. Ruthie. talking to them. Here it was…An answering machine. I felt discouraged. saying only as much as was safe to say. You could prepare your message in your head. All right. and I almost had a couple of accidents. These devices are great. American in Paris. tsk. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. I’m going to do it. and leave a lot to the imagination. you have nothing to lose. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. Should I give up on the whole thing? Why hasn’t she called? I kept wishing that I had an answering machine in Paris. I cannot come to the phone right now. 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. lay off. Have a good time. No such luck. still nothing. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. but it’s like the Lottery.
I said. I was going crazy. she is just like Alison. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. I hung up. No call the next day either. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. and tucked her cold feet back in. Two days later. Please call me”. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. please do so after the beep”. What an exotic. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. but there was nothing I could do about it. as she repeated the last part in French. she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. I hope everything is OK. I found myself dialing her number again. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. the machine answered. “I think we should talk about things a little more. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. Once more. I left my message in English. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. Waiting for phone 74 . and later with Angela. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. things became more manageable. “Hope to hear from you soon. and leave it to fate. The thought was infuriating me. there was no other word for it. And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. we’ll see. and that there was none to waste. If she claimed not to be interested. First. Please call me in the mornings. I had come back to the café all right. then to dinner. cover ups and rationalizations. Again. Hopefully. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. well I just had to go with that. and I don’t get anything out of it. Once you had mastered step one. attractive voice she had. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. Oh well. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly. just like Alison. reluctant to leave my room. I had not asked to start this. And at least. I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart. “après le bip sonore”. 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. Second. She had picked me up. and to not give in to disguises. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. It would be a waste.
Fine.You mean tomorrow? . and that was it. early in the morning.No. We hung up. especially now that I have your phone number again. deciding at times. dreams of rejection. we’ll call you. if she does not want me. It is the daily grind of the betrayed. I slept with great difficulty. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. I kept myself busy all day again.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… . I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. She did not seem afraid or disturbed. She does not know what she’s missing. . . ha. But things could be arranged… . and you are not listed.Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. .Yes. Then. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being. A little early for a French date. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. just for old time’s sake. I enthusiastically agreed. “Same here” she said very sweetly. Once more. of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams. the phone rang while I was still half asleep. I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. I said goodbye. I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband. Dream on. Right.I would love to.Well. Saturday as in tomorrow. she does not want me. 75 . that there was no more hope. Well. ha.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. of disconnection. but after all she was not French. Don’t call us. Sometimes. How are you? . adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . with a lot of Alison dreams. are you kidding? This is great. It was Lindy. “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . she was ahead of me and surprised me.
The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. normal people. I took my mother with me to see a movie. I was going to have the car. it gave her a more assertive attitude. a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. Besides.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. had much cleaner. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. after a sleepless night. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. How was I going to spend the day. and the stigma had stayed with me. threatening to rain. and that it was very seldom the other way around. I called Francoise to reschedule our plans for the next day. I had lunch with some friends from high school. if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated. extremely noisy. I knew something had to be done and that the situation had to evolve fast. The weather was overcast. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays. and inviting her was out of the question. The clocks once more. I decided not to 76 . seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. as a friend. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. In my mind. Neither of us really liked it. and who knows. After lunch. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. it was much more fun to go there. I felt that other people. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation.
Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. and left in the still crowded evening. as I went into the apartment. and finally found a place on the other bank. I started feeling present and alive again. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now.Allo? . The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. which was definitely worth checking out. Is that you? I described my predicament. I arrived at her door. As I drove.Yes. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. Smiling. I needed to get to a phone and call her. Here we go. She answered. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. and tried to open it. It was almost a quarter past seven. life was beginning to make sense again. and leave everything to the moment. an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love. I realized I did not have the code. Sorry… She hugged me. . welcoming.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. I had to make change and go downstairs to call. I could be fashionably late. I decided to cross the bridge. Oh. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. It felt and I felt a little bit slanted. and searched the side streets to no avail. She was on the last floor. and started going up the ancient staircase. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. she said without questioning my use of the nickname. At the end of this drive. . as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy. I went back onto the quay. feeling much better. the tangled webs… I drove all the way into the Rue de Nevers. waiting for me. She looked 77 . Seven twenty five. She gave me the code. she sounded very sweet. I punched in the code. It was locked. I cultivated my anger at Alison. unlucky in parking saying after all. left.Lindy? . Everything was all right. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. I walked back. and told me it was on the fifth floor. the carrier of Christ. think of the time it will take to find a parking place! I said goodnight to my mother. there is Lindy Christoforos. Fortunately. and did not know where the apartment was.
stunning in the golden light, at home barefoot and in jeans, a white shirt, and a proprietary air about the place, that gave her even more presence and beauty. The apartment was an attic with beams, and a whitewashed ceiling. The floor was covered with antique red hexagonal tiles, with a Navajo rug here and there. The floor was at a different level in each room, and the walls were decorated with paintings by unknown painters, the Picassos of the future, a great investment for her friend Igor. The windows were looking out on the roofs and the river. The night was misty, soulful and mysterious. Lindy was taking me into the kitchen, which was not really a kitchen, but opened up into the large living room. The lighting was soft and subdued, with candles and dimmed lamps. She had some Slavic women’s choir softly playing on the stereo. I was expressing my enthusiasm about the place. - You can see why I’d love to have this as my own. Unfortunately, Igor is coming back this fall. - Then where will you live? - Good question. Julien and I used to live together, so I don’t know where I will end up. The kitchen looked like it belonged in a medieval castle and not this penthouse apartment. There seemed to be a whole dinner prepared on the counter, a salad bowl, oysters, clean dinner plates, and a bottle of Bordeaux. I looked puzzled. - Oh yes, she said, since this is Saturday night and it’s madness and lines everywhere, I thought we would have dinner here instead of going out. Is that OK? - I think it’s perfect… We sat down for a while on the couch and had glasses of wine. The moment was truly magical. Outside, I could hear the horns, the senseless agitation, and the meaningless frenzy of Saturday nights in a working town. Inside, there was this feeling of safety with underlying excitement. Nothing can really go wrong. It’s all here, ready to go, just enjoy the ride and don’t pretend you are not really on it. I had asked Lindy how she had been since the last time, and she was telling me. The level of intimacy had definitely risen, even though things were still quite formal between us. She had seen Julien, and had had lunch with him.
- He was all right, and making a real effort to redefine our relationship. I kept being torn between asking him about Sonja and refusing to talk about her. What would I need to know about her, except that she is richer, more famous, and more beautiful than I am? I don’t need to hear that. I wanted to tell Lindy that I thought she was quite beautiful herself, but I kept quiet, saving all my nerve for later. We went on for a while, comparing Alison and Julien, and their ways. I described to Lindy, how Alison had made a specialty of rejecting me and never missing an occasion to tell me how she never really was in love with me not now and not ever. If Alison hinted at a conversation she had had about us, I always hated myself for asking what had transpired. Somehow it came down to “This will hurt your feelings, because I don’t really love you”. Sure enough, my feelings got hurt really badly, and I hated myself for ever believing that there was more to it than “It was fun for a while, and then it was not fun anymore, so I left you for somebody who was new and more fun”. The fact that Marie was one of the most abusive people I had ever heard of did not seem to figure into her reasoning. The fact that instead of being angry at Marie for leaving her and treating her poorly she took it out on me did not seem to cross her mind. Yet, yet, there were times when I could have sworn that she loved me, that we loved each other body and soul, that we meant the world to each other. Where was the truth and where was reality? Could there really be two realities? - Don’t you think, said Lindy, that there can be two realities, one that is real, in harmony with some kind of universal flow, and one that’s an illusion…? The hard part is to decide which one will hurt us the least. I think that Julien was happier with me than he is with Sonja, however right now, he needs to do this. Somehow, it did not bother me that she sounded still so involved with Julien. I felt safe because she had not pretended to be in love with me or anything of the sort. We had a clean slate. I was still nervous because I felt my grip on reality had been loosened by my experience with Alison, and I was not sure that my instincts were in any way to be trusted. It was a little bit like driving a Mack truck on a mountain road in the fog while blindfolded. How good a driver was I really? Did loving women always include power games and drama? Was drama really the most desirable thing in the world? I felt that the only way to protect myself against drama and meaningless pain was to tell the truth clearly about what I
wanted. At least, I could pull myself out of a game that I did not know how to play. Then, and this was the hardest part, I had to train myself to deal with the reactions to what I had said. Rejection is never fun for anyone, but I keep hoping that there is some way to limit the extent of the damage. If the reactions feel cruel, shallow or beyond the pale standoffish, then I have to realize that these were not my people and that I was mistaken to be involved with them in the first place. It was probably a symptom of my own sickness that I still loved Alison. Was Lindy a symptom of my sickness, or a definite sign of recovery? The only way to find out was to level with her, and I was committed to doing just that tonight. There are moments in life when some kind of weird strength takes over, and you just know that the truth is the only thing that will do. We can’t afford to mess with lies, when we only have three weeks to express ourselves…Indeed we should never mess with lies at all, because what can seem like an extensive lifetime does not feel much longer than three weeks when the time comes to leave graciously… We decided to have dinner. There was a table, set French style with a tablecloth, right in front of the largest window, and it was overlooking the slate roofs above the Rue Guenegaud. As we were taking dishes and stuff out of the kitchen, we would touch slightly by accident as we would reach to get something from the counter. The power of the feeling scared me, and I wondered if she experienced the same thing. Yes, Ruthie, I am still wondering. After all these years… Lindy was sitting at the table across from me. We were talking about absolutely everything. Julien and Alison were of course recurring subjects of our analysis, but somehow, I think neither of us was bothered by the reference to the other person. It was almost as if bringing it all out into the open was somehow purging, cleansing, liberating. We were eating and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. There were times when Alison and I would get together and do things, but she would often start daydreaming, or scanning the crowd for somebody she was dying to see, probably Marie and her new girlfriend. Lindy and I were talking about others, yet we were present and relishing each other’s company, at least for the time being. We were going over everything. She was actually asking me what it was like to live one’s life identified as a lesbian.
why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified. trying to stay relatively cool. the world and everything else. I poured us some more wine. and I agreed with her. I still think gay women should be above all this. I said. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. you’re right! But for some reason. like you know.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however.Sometimes.You’re right…Of course. and talking about ourselves. After dinner. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. that I would have been better off straight. so exclusive and unreal? . Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed. . . really. both parties have to agree. it depends.. I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon.Oh well. The straight world has gone beyond that. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. Compared to her. I didn’t care. a tough biker type with tattoos.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . we checked out Igor’s bookcase.It sounds to me. Somehow. We sat on the couch. Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile. side by side. I felt very close to Lindy. it would sound so horrible and abusive. I think gay women are so screwed up. This Alison thing has made me question everything. gay or straight. one to hate. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on. Yet she hangs on. sipping some old cognac. At that moment. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . full of resentments and judgments about 81 . some that we had never read but wished we had. 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. Brahmin or Untouchable. cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. and the other ones to hate themselves in response. and found some books in French and English that we had read. I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. that the key to all this is the same. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy. If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman.
in our review of the world and the past. Lindy.everything and everyone. all I could think about when I got here was whether or not I would ever sleep with you… She smiled.Is that good or bad? . empty glass in hand: 82 .I was thinking of how. Panic seized me. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. As I was speaking. We felt. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. . ease.It feels good. . . . like relationships and other hellish endeavors. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. and emotional release. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. prophecies. evaluating he changes in my mood. and lit an after dinner cigarette. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. I should go. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone.What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. yet compassionate of others. quite peaceful. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. and answers to the riddles of the world. from the simplest to the most difficult. Behind her I saw a clock.And now? . one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. generously. I asked her permission. . unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. I could hear her breathe. and devoid of any expectation. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. even though I would be at a loss to explain why.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. and more of a promise of serenity. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. so you can always enjoy that special moment. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. The silences were easy. She seemed kind. There was silence in the room. There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. easily. for whatever reason. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other.Now my mind seems empty. as it had a few times before. The magical courage came back to me. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. protective of each other.
she opened it. We both laughed. I had a wonderful evening. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. gathering my things. 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 mumbled something about helping with the dishes. The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. without pulling back. 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. We were both rewarded for our courage. when we found ourselves involved in the softest. 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. its searchlights on. but she said she would take care of it all. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. my heart was pounding away. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers. climbing up the stairs out of breath. embraced in a final hug. bright as day. and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. she had the nerve to give me a hug.. and leave her cheek right there. In Paris. I am sorry to keep you up so late. fullest kiss one can imagine. and imaging myself getting up. The cathedral was still lit. 83 . I did not work. all was said and done. and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. and she. Instead. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. I’m sorry… . I had no idea where the car was. that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. When we finally pulled apart after quite a while.Thank you. and I have to be there.No. I did start toward the bridge. I was putting on my jacket. I bounced out into the cold night. dream like…like life itself. Oh. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. sweetest. against mine. We are shooting some location footage for the archives. and turned around to say goodbye… . I would constantly wake up.Aie! Goodness. illuminating the river banks. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. We walked to the door together. “I’ll call you” she whispered.
Lindy? . . but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous. My only comfort was to walk. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number. but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable. You remember the code? .Yes. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing. How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? . If she is home. saw and heard nothing. It was half past ten. but in dreams everything always seems so normal. The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado.Well. walk everywhere.Well. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing. I was wondering if you could possibly come over… . it felt like a dream.It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams. I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times. On the third night.Now? She sounded as if she was joking. drank nothing. and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… . Again. Closing in… Suddenly. if you don’t know what I mean. She knew. how are you? . well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” .What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations.I was hoping it was you in person too. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught… 84 .Yes but… . I knew. Hi! I was hoping it was you… . until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor. You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar.Come only if you want to.I think we need to help things go where they want to go… My ears were pounding with the bass drum of my heart. I saw some friends.
Hey.This is OK. there were no cops to give you parking tickets. . The world never sleeps. where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk. a jacket. in awe of her poise. I regained my composure. and said “All right…” with relief.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again. It was on a weekday. directly into the Rue de Nevers. and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. Paris never sleeps. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations. . My mind was blank. and left. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. I knew exactly where I was going and why. like a special favor to me. This is what I want to do right now. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions. and I was already used to it. right? You’re not scared or anything. I turned right on the bridge. I put on a T-shirt. Paris would never be the same again. and I was ready for it. started the car. and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. 85 . grabbed both of my wrists. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. In this new life. Life had just become different in the past half hour.. shoes…I was going through the motions. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle. and sat me down on the couch. You know. I was staring at her. but not like a native either. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. I could never have imagined that you… . things get really clear for me. are you? . and escaped into the shiny night. and yet the streets were still crowded. I was not particularly nervous. I went down to the garage. her beauty. The monuments on the river bank were all lit. jeans.Sometimes. She closed the door.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris.
it was thick. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. Sleep meant relaxing. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there. I had a thought for Alison. and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. We undressed slowly. shook her head gently and let her hair down. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. heavy. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship. We barely knew each other. while we were still together. through the skylights. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture. making a game of folding each item neatly. Why hadn’t she simply called me first? 86 . the one who savored all that life had to offer. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. No performance anxiety or uneasiness. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. I had seen it done many times in movies. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. and fluid like water. but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. When we were done. young. Lindy reached behind her head. Then. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. we sat on top of the bed facing each other. the one who could share. like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. dawn finally won over the darkness. It was late.Suddenly. carefully. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. So we simply stuck to words for a while. and keeping her eyes on me. Yet there was the recognition of love. and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. 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. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come.
You did. and take it all the way. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. We were very different people from the night before. pleased with herself. Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… .. 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. and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. If she calls me. I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit. I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear… 87 .What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. 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. . she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance. She was definitely innocent of any such crime. nor will I wish to… . and I will never go back. that will be it. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother.To me. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… . rite of shame. And somehow.Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. in a cocoon of softness. I feel like time has stopped. Instead. plague that can break the most wonderful attempts at liberation. . as usual. I guess we both had done a good day’s work. who was smiling at me as she was asking the question. if she doesn’t call me. then it will be a sign and I swear that I will do the rest of the work. 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. It was a crime against me and Lindy. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while.I’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. We were swimming in warm waters. and were now collecting the fruit of our labor. but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her.
Except that I knew that when the evening came. calm. we could spend 48 hours together in a row. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay. She was laughing and we felt so strong. Afterwards. this freedom. but that she would be afraid that he would ask her to bring me over to his house so he could watch us and do it with us. which superseded and sanctified everything. and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together. this comfort.Fear of what? . Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. All I could find was a welling up of happiness. Then Lindy would go to work. None of it seemed to matter one bit. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies. and I would have a normal day.. or worse yet. fear that I will turn against you. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. we slowly got up. We were making plans of the greatest importance.You mean now? . I would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave. I could not find any. and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment. On the contrary. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. but I could not find that many at all.Are you feeling any of these fears? . Everybody else could stay in the dark. We sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner. laughter. . The day was really here.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. It was evident that what really counted. In fact. so indestructible. 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. what God or whoever meant for us to feel. maybe a little smug…Well. that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. was this great happiness. it 88 . looking for my familiar insecurities. or straight or anything. No evil could ever come of it.
The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. of intelligence. and then collected on your various calls and time online. I had to go. The car was still there. who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. out of place. Bravely. 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. There was a God. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. They gave you the terminal for free. pick up bars and gay bars. It was light out. “Hi. I backed it up to the Quai. or a Goddess. illegal. It was time for me to go. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. I had been so lucky! .was the essence of generosity. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. Yet. I felt elated and shaky. I was out in the light. Someone had to make a decision. I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating. and sped toward the darker western skies. with me. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps. singles groups.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. the magic was lingering. 89 . you are faceless. out on the street. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. someone watching over me. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel. at the door. and had given me the nerve to come back to her. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. She had to go to work. 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.
Rue de Nevers. Climbing into the taxi. with him. On a clear summer day. I’m not. born in Argentina. I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality. I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. Once more. and we were mellow. Without any prompting on my part.. But Lindy and I had made other plans. the streets and the city. and we were going to get our 48 hours together. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other. I had packed. It was as if we were on a beach. The bag was not too heavy.No. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. slow and gentle. Lindy came down to help me. not really either…I guess I’m just going away. I usually always took the Sunday flight. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies.No. It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing. and called a cab to leave on Sunday. Then we closed the door on the stairs. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi.Are you going back home then? . I entered the code. on Tuesday. She did not want to cancel. no…thank you. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. It was hot and sultry.No. Lindy had taken Monday off. I had jumped off the train of time. the temptation…I smiled back. . Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. on my way back to California. So this time. There I was. who lived on a barge on the river. while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. . I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead. I had said goodbye to everyone. I was in my home 90 . and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs.
yet exuded calm. but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. a table was set for three. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. young. We walked along the still crowded square. We climbed aboard and right away. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. By the window on the river side. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever.As long as it is temporary! Lindy said it as she leaned her head on my shoulder and stole a kiss on the base of my neck. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Antonia. to friendship and love. and up to the bridge. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual. The deck was decorated with flowers. His paintings were abstract. Good for sex. lounge chairs. according to him. . We were in love with each other. I laughed with him. . we were in love with the world. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. seafaring lore and framed photographs. Dinner was delicious. Diego was a great cook. he said. with candles and a bottle of wine.Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. He took us on a tour of the barge.city. with an exuberance of color. we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. and he said he had prepared food especially for us. It was small. The door was open on an interior full of paintings. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall. We agreed that while it would be great to be able to make out in the open like these people. from his mother’s ancient recipes. Every item had its place. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. It had a bedroom. 91 . We toasted to all of us. happy. and the world loved us back. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen.
my friend Diego. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. I had escaped with a lie. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. That night. We had some coffee and some fruit. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. Finally. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. and gave us each one. We were stunned that everything was going so well. We finished the evening with yerba mate. we said goodnight to our host. So. Lindy was laughing a lot. 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. Maybe that first day at the Babylone. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. but could not stay apart for too long. and walked off into the night holding hands. he said. so I did care. as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. our friend and protector. Unfortunately. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”.. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine. we woke up giddy with renewed energy. 92 . 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. The next morning. exhausted and overwhelmed. we had dulce de leche. At first we thought of going to a movie. For dessert. one of the most erotic tangos ever written. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him.Always be good to each other. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. to always treasure as a souvenir.
and now. and sat down below the stairs. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. but it was a different story to say it like that. Going down was even harder than going up. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. and the view was sweeping and breathtaking. flatly. She admitted hers were too. She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. In between the rumble of tour boats. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. she was in love with me. 93 . I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. The men had danced until dawn. We were pointing landmarks to each other. Neither of us had ever been up there. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. the hunchback who lived in the tower. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. and started up the stairs. We entered from the side. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot. sitting out on the stone steps. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river. so we would always remember it as ours. and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. unbelievably. -You know that I love you. As we were talking. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel. A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her. and we needed a rest. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. There was nobody there. It was not very crowded up there. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side.
. and as always trying to control her hair. . Once Rue de Nevers. past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai. hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge. under the protection of the trees. I said. -How about…I stopped mid-sentence. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. I took a deep breath. We kissed in the shadow of the stairs. Wow. I did not know what to say. We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other. but then dared to ask the hovering question. then walked briskly across the bridge. I could not stay in Paris. I was shocked. slender and graceful. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. I smiled back. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank. We stayed silent for a while.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank. -Yes. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you. and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed.She replied softly. . Let's go home… We went back up the steps. We were so well tuned by then. she said. -Nah. I caught up with her. 94 . we did not waste any time.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. Then finally.Come on.Now I know why you wear running shoes. . But I was also surprised at the relief I felt. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever. Lindy was running ahead. I guess we had found our legs again.
Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. Then she took her turn. I started with the obvious. it will always be there. At some point. elated by the memories of our day together. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. no obligation. I repacked my suitcase. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. I always will. -Will you always love me? -Yes. I called a cab for the next morning. It was simple: no upheaval. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. Once done. and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. It was long. I said. It was slow. Lindy returned. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner. and lover of Psyche. We were feeling euphoric. just live in the present and make the best of it all. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis. 95 . and toasting to everything. shooter of arrows. She had put on a jazz CD. but that was just fine. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. son of Aphrodite. not eating very much. I will always love you. and dreamy. All we had was champagne. and the ease with which we had solved our future.Once there. Even if I can't do anything about it. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. I folded the letter. -Will you always desire me? -Yes. and we sat down to dinner. it was also my own. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. She smiled in the candlelight. we stayed as long as we could. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. daring and lighthearted. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand.
Not surprisingly. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. I will be. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. -Next time you come to Paris. we eventually did fall asleep. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. but she could have meant Paris. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. One last kiss. Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. I said I would do the same. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. it was harder to let go than we expected. Finally. and made love for what we felt could be the last time. but we woke up in time without the alarm. A lifetime had gone by. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. before the next morning. As it turned out. I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home. the loving ahead of us. I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. I think she meant the apartment. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. A man and a 96 . We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. and finished packing. I did not know which one to go with. and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go. There was promise and regret in her tone. We sealed the vows with a kiss. the time came. and soon we had to forget about dinner and proceed with all the living to be done. 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.
-J'arrive. I suddenly was exhausted. I might come back soon. I waved back. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. And then. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. my taxi had arrived. I began… The van started honking. hopping into the van and waving. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. j'arrive! She yelled back. -Lindy. I finished the cigarette. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. I lit a cigarette. We had a new take on life. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. 97 . I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. 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. let the chips fall where they may. but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. I realized how far we had come in those few days. She waved back.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. and stereotype and there was no turning back. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. and had to sit down on my suitcase. and effortlessly walked me through it. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. Lindy had taken me by the hand. with such intensity. conformity. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. Hearing her voice on the recording again. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. or I might not. her eyes were down. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. When we pulled apart. I had never known such freedom. I had never lived like this. I had never loved like this. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. She was gone.
There she was. Of course. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large. 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. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. Pure with the knowledge that she takes pleasure in the giving as well as the taking…She had enfolded me with love that was benevolent and generous. Half way through dinner that night. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart. it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. As I entered the kitchen. 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. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. After the phone call. No surprise there. 98 . masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. beautifully open. They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. well maybe I could be more like her. There was also an aura of kinship. If I did not end up being with her. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well. they didn’t have it. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. 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”. so we can solve all of their problems. drinking a little too much. of inner or past troubles. but it would be a great comfort to know that Lindy and I were once again reading the Obscure One at the same time together. and off I went.Lindy. 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.
and hoped that I would stay in touch. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. while he is himself about to die. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. Coming back to the dining room. a sophisticated. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. intelligent. struck me as most ominous. This was a time in my life.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. 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. but thought that I never would. in which the aging hero. So. I remembered Minna’s offer. and well travelled. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. I was appalled to think that at my age. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes. I liked both of them a lot. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. I still was not worried 99 . I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers. Venice. So there I was…I felt good. They were unconventional. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. Gustav Von Aschenbach. where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. I was lighthearted. California. and Minna. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. I had been doing this for the last year or so. The similarity in names. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges. I thanked her. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. It was just for a couple of days. and Bethany was not a kid anymore.
“Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. and not too smoggy. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. and then out on a date with her boyfriend Vijay or “VJ” as they called him. So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. as I 100 . Minna was very matter of fact about the award. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. she would have to give a speech and there was no way of course that she could miss this event. In fact. elegant. His smile was broad and confident. holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. I was plotting to make sure that our moments together would be perfect…What did that mean? I didn’t really know. That morning. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist. Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious. and being one of the recipients. Much to my chagrin however. 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.about Aschenbach. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple. He was slim. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. rich. and in love. beautiful. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. and yet keep it light. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. and know that it was just a gift. It was a beautiful day. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. I said.
and walked in with a spring in my step. it felt like I had finally become myself. and went right back outside. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. I decided it was too early. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. Then went back North and through Hollywood. There. The mist was gone. but I did not feel the same. and so did the lunch afterwards. The water was quite chilly. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. feeling alive. The meeting went very well. People were smiling at each other. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. well named Tinsel Town. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe! 101 . Everything looked good this morning. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. and I was smiling back. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. and walked into the empty house. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma. After all these years. We even discussed a particular night. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. saying hello. free and ageless. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light.revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. I felt better. I felt generous. It was not too different from the times. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. just for fun. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice. hurtful and out of line. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. guardian of our dreams and our longings. things might go better for me. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. and stared at the waves for quite a while.
you never know when it might be lost or stolen. I went back to the living room. She smiled. cooling the glass with ice cubes. Then some classics.Yes. I said.D. . . Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah. .Sure. maybe she forgot something. Well. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. by John Wyclife. and as I always like to do. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. . but I wanted to be comforting somehow. and was getting ready to warm them up. I was examining the book collection as well. Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello. Interesting. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered. Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm". Ah.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion. I went back to my dinner. three shelves below.I thought you were going out tonight. I went back into the house. "Anna Karenina". I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs. 102 . that would be nice. well so did I! She did seem upset. Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying. finding a plate. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read.Come here. M. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before.Finally. . I did not want to intrude. when it started looking a little more like dusk. pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little. . when I heard the front door open and close. I think she was very flattered and looking forward to it and would not miss it short of a catastrophe involving major National Security issues. and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea. a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm".
I could guess.She seemed to begin to relax a little. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. . 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. 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. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went.He thinks she’s hot. For all I know.Do you have any idea where he went? . She was talking easily of this and that. He always says he thinks she’s really hot. he was there. on the road. We talked about movies we liked. and I was determined to help in some way. It was dark outside. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers. or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better. The wine was delicious and light. there is this girl Olivia Ramos. . we talked about our travels. I can talk about it. in the middle of the Outback. eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you? 103 . We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001.Oh.Well. . . She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out.Ah. she’s from Brazil. of course. going down easy and was relaxing both of us. what we thought. by chance. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. . and she flirts with everyone including him. .Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. please. but he was not there.Or at the emergency room. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. where we had been. or would you rather not? Talk about it. don’t hold it in. .So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it. but it was on voice mail.So I called his cell phone.
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. but if outwardly you are quite stunning.Well. I do. more than one. like a joke.Ha. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. I have. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent. I’m not.. have you ever been with a man? . We have fun together. smiling. I said jokingly. from what you told me.Well. She looked straight back at me. she asked. . I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. this might not mean much to you. I looked back at her. since yesterday. amazed at her beauty.But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . she laughed. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. and softly chuckled. However. . I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. She looked down briefly. that is of course very important… But Bethany. What do you want to know? 104 .Well. .Yes. he’s never said it in my presence. but that’s just me. 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. maybe. I have been around the block a few times.Oh. and did not seem embarrassed at all. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. Wyclife's arcane instructions.Are you kidding? . And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. I said it lightly. She looked at me with a funny little smile. At least. . .Yes. At least that's what I would have done… . but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… .No. I mean it. he pays me nice compliments every now and then.
San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time.Quite different. and women are not always very careful with that. I said. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely.and in a relationship with a man. East Los Angeles. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves. Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . and of an overwhelming 105 . how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles. with a woman I had met at a cafe. whether I was with her or away from her. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years. Still. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf. into territories where acquaintances seldom go. On the other hand. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. and I suddenly stopped talking. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep. the ones with the little houses and the little lawns.Was that your first time? . I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal.And off we went. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. in San Francisco’s North Beach. in Redondo Beach. 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. I became conscious of my breathing. quasi erotic friendships with men. one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. oil pumping ones. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility. illicit and were deeply hidden. . I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women.No. I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? . even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. . It was as if each moment was intensified. Actually.
I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. I got up from the table. wiping counters. I luxuriate. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. to our rooms. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. Tonight has been so good. Wrapped in the towel. The salt in the air is exhilarating. Finally. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However. Bethany got up as well. more intoxicating than the alcohol. 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. Instead. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. Dying is not an option. to find Bethany in my room. of an elegant. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. I broke the spell by making small talk. filling up the dishwasher. putting away unused silverware. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now.desire to kiss her. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. and she replied that it was going quite well. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. I can still hear the ocean out there. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. My head is spinning a little from the wine. we went up the stairs. and started gathering the dishes. 106 . and we cleared the table. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. and was shamelessly taunting me. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. this is not quite the Caribbean. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. as I am entranced by her. and it is strange to say. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. so a shower will be a good substitute. asking how school was going for her so far. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. So. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be.
along with an old business card from something somewhere. but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not…. looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home. I don’t really care. and I find it. OK. She laughs.Oh Bethany. where all shame and self consciousness disappear. But then. as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. where the travelers know all. I turn around. sent back to their dark alleys. if only what’s his name could see you right now. she props her head up on her elbow. naturally. enough suffering. to my utter surprise. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane. I guess it went quite well after all. All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. hours ago. we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. . Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey. 107 . What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience. forgotten .You know…I need to say this. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. .a little too big for her. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging.Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. tenderness. we end up kissing instead. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. She looks flushed and smiling. a man’s robe. all the way to some strange ease. She lowers her eyes and starts . I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder. I’d like to get it. . I say. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. I want to give Bethany what she wants. and feel all. tonight…”. I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp. she kisses softly.Of course not… -That book you mentioned.Mind if I come in? She says… . The return is made of gentleness. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me. And then.
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. . . don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters.Good morning! Said Minna. I’m not sure she would appreciate.Don’t worry. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible. how did you sleep? 108 . We talk softly. I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night.Here comes your mom. I follow her. As I turn off the light. as I realize Minna is coming home. I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I hear the front door open. I smile. I grant you that. She kisses me again lightly. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. I am in a way teaching. I guide her. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. “…angel…” I say. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off. I must have. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about. and things don’t always have to work out that way. We jump off in tandem. She smiles back. Just consider this my legacy.. I got up. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions. But in reality.Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. Her beauty is overwhelming me. I am not expecting anything from you. Bethany…I am not free anyway. . or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. and I know that the lesson only works if the teacher is prepared to trade places at some point and open up to all there is to learn. My last glimpse of her as my lover is of the hummingbird tattoo on the small of her back as she throws on the robe and shuts the door behind her. and by now. though. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. you better get out of here. Now dear reader. I am in awe of my student. She is looking at me. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. and I snap back to the world. How easy it is to lose track of time. and tiptoes toward the door.
I could see Bethany. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. I couldn’t. I walked over to her. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality. I waved back. but honestly. .Out of the corner of my eye. 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. . and it was about to be over. feeling easy and detached. and she was a perfect hostess. for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. chasing young things around Venice. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode. I finally started relaxing. when after what seemed to be a very long time.Thank you Bethany. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table. not wanting to be distracted from the moment. dressed. up. By the time I was packing up to go. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. I slept very well. My inner Gustav was somewhere else. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully. energetic.What can I say…my pleasure! 109 . I came down and started loading the rental car. looking at her. but on the other hand. “Good morning!” She was smiling. . -Oh. . how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. I saw Minna wave from the terrace. As I turned toward the house. and I was feeling strong and gliding though life on a path of lightness and freedom. I was feeling quite happy with myself. At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease. I said. radiant. even when she was sad. trying to make sure that I would remember everything. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality. and it was well worth the trip.Yep. I answered that it went well. I realized I had feared for a few minutes that I was not going to see her again. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing. she was always radiant. I said goodbye to Minna. mixing stuff in the blender. She laughed quite easily.
It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. 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. my mind was still with Bethany. She had always been so pleasant with me. and then decides that they have too many friends already. I had said that I did not expect anything. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. 110 . and finally answer me. and I felt that for her. To my surprise. so far. back home near San Francisco. and to whom one can talk about just anything. to enjoying a link which would not be broken. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. but no pain. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. to knowing how Bethany was doing. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. in my dark little heart. Bethany was gone. I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. Somehow. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. this cut to the quick. I think she would have been more the confronting type.We both started laughing. For some reason. But I didn’t really know. I was looking forward to hearing from her. I walked back to the car. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. so I got in the car and drove away. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. Minna and I were not old friends. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. I wondered why Minna was not responding. Maybe she was upset because I teased her when she said that material possessions did not matter to her happiness. Still somewhere. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. So there was a certain amount of longing. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. I am not very good at blowing kisses. and was fully expecting a response. hoping that she would catch up with her email. Relieved. For about a week after I returned home. no response ever came. From the shadow of the house. However.
It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. and became angry at myself. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name. thinking about Bethany. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. I felt like I was really cheating. He was not as striking as VJ. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. smooching at this year’s Gala”. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice. and plunged me into a dark vat of infatuation and yearning. and maybe also shame. This. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. 111 . It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. nor really a desire. Sometimes. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. Often. Some other times. I felt like I was Bethany myself. as I was distracted most of the time. Bethany was the angel of Death. at her most…well. I would also have moments where I realized how silly this whole thing was. if I was alone somewhere. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. and imagined what it would be like to be her. I had been so cool. Now. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. but everyone around me. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. Not only my partner. and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her. radiant of course. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. About two months later. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. regret. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. And it was true in a way.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. the local newspaper in Venice California.
They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. going for a sexy look. listening to the radio in my car. and chasing after some unknown idea of success. I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. As I was singing and driving. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike.was too distracting. had given of herself without fear. I had been aware. In the end. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. 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. a feeling of being vulnerable. California. they all looked alike. to horseback rides in the hills. accompanying me to work. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. 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. ostracized and unloved. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. One day. I loved the song. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all 112 . But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. too unnerving. and could not help but start singing along full blast. except for Bethany. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. that last bastion of privacy. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. and I had to exorcise it somehow. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. but more the idealized image that we have of them. My memory of the event however. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. to sleep. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. had somehow caused an unconscious regression. and uninteresting. without defenses and with a real purity of intent. but the streetlights had come on. It was not dark yet. and that memory was with me a lot of the time. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill. to this gorgeous world.
that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. As it turned out. At least. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. I still grieve for any kind of link between us.that was there for me. She found it again where she wanted to find it. I see nothing but love. and maybe it is better this way. To keep… The most important. It would last. Maybe it was the circumstances. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!! 113 . and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. was not about despair or death. but I could see clearly at that moment. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. To be honest. or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. it was our own. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. albeit in a more restrained. I do owe her respect and love for who she is and not who I sometimes imagine her to be. still with delight. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. who was beautiful and brave. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. because it lived in each of us. I do relish the memories of that night. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. and I found it deep within myself. When I look back at our brief moments together. and we had opened that door for each other. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. The feeling was familiar. it was like that for me. almost spiritual way. and reminisce on occasion.
feedbooks.com Food for the mind 114 .www.