Travels Through Love and Time

Christine Hall Volkoff

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

she had sought me out. On the other hand. Other times. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. then if nothing was gained. Maybe it was just 72 . the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold. even if she knew what could happen between us. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. let’s get on with some real fun. Paris. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems.laughing at her crude approach. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. with somebody else. 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. nothing was lost either. If she did not. of all places. but definitely mutual. 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. So far. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. 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. and how unexpected…In Paris. as long as I kept the messages true. There was some history that I had to contend with. if not always clear. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. she had already done the infamous deed. and swear to be with me forever. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. Yet to me. until she finally would have to give in. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. however. Besides. She would come to me when she was ready. In fact. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part.

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

protective of each other. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. empty glass in hand: 82 . as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. in our review of the world and the past.I was thinking of how. The silences were easy. unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. easily. as it had a few times before. so you can always enjoy that special moment. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone. Behind her I saw a clock. As I was speaking. ease. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. I should go. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. and lit an after dinner cigarette.everything and everyone. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. from the simplest to the most difficult. .What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. We felt. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. yet compassionate of others. . and emotional release. She seemed kind. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out.Now my mind seems empty. one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much. generously.And now? . quite peaceful. I asked her permission. Panic seized me. I could hear her breathe. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. even though I would be at a loss to explain why. . There was silence in the room. The magical courage came back to me. . There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. prophecies. for whatever reason.It feels good. evaluating he changes in my mood. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. and answers to the riddles of the world. Lindy. and devoid of any expectation.Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. and more of a promise of serenity. 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? . as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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