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?!
and usually did the most stupid cutesy things to try to make me smile. Vernet is bringing her at 3:00. especially from the point of view of a kid. why is she coming? Doesn’t she have enough houses already? Why does she have to come here? . though I could not at that time really appreciate whether she was a good actress or not. however. as Simone frowned at the word.When is she coming? . and I also suspected a former lover of my father’s.Why. Some of the films. I had met many famous actresses and actors throughout my fourteen years.Oh right.You mother said she had business in France. and always found them to be extremely boring in person. Mr. but who seemed to have been very instrumental in the rise of her career. were I have to admit. She had dark skin. . slightly above my head. especially the ones directed by the Italian New Wave. but I had seen some of her movies. Francesca d’Alessi was a distant friend of my mother’s. Since my father was working in the film business. . and she wants be incognito.Today. I hated her. I regularly gave them looks that could kill. She was a well known Italian actress currently living in Hollywood. very blue eyes. a producer who was much older than her.I was crestfallen. This was a double whammy! . of a non-descript color with blonde highlights in typical Hollywood fashion. and ran away to my room. that she needed the rest. like she can’t take the ferry like everyone else…give me a break! I liked Francesca. a perfect face and a perfect body with (what I admired most) straight hair. I still could not believe it! One whole week! . I decided that I would not have
. She was married to Marco d’Alessi. She looked good in black and white though. Right now. I thought she was beautiful. I could not believe that my mother had had the nerve to impinge on my freedom without even coming back herself. I had never met her. 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. They seemed to always listen to themselves talk.Shit! Whatever…I said.
It was me and “the girls”. So Ondine and I went to pick up the boys. whose nickname was of all things. we would lie on the silver sand in full sunlight and discuss everything from our parents. Bambi liked to have Ondine as his partner. turn it over to empty it and start all over again. as he always yelled at me. After all our exertions. and the manners of a bad boy. I had a crush on Bambi. and I loved to watch him. and the game was to paddle as fast and as far as possible before the canoe finally sank. We played a game where we would pull out the old canoe that we had hidden at the Plage d’Argent. The canoe leaked. She knew how to drop the competition aspect. and that always fell in front of his eyes. to the latest news. I was not even interested in finding out the next clue in my book. but who knows… Bambi incidentally. and would continue living my life as close to the way it had been so far this summer. singing and paddling slowly in unison until we sank. but had a special feeling for Jean-Pierre. At 2:30. He was very tan from being constantly out in the sunlight in a bathing suit. So there. I could imagine that the nickname was left over from when he was a chubby toddler. Let him or her kill them all for all I care. and off we went. and I always ended up with Jean-Remy. and maybe it was going to follow him into old age. Ondine and Veronica. I made my escape. Bambi. we will know for sure who done it. I did not like paddling with Bambi anyway. nor did I care at that moment about who was the murderer. did not return my feelings. but quite strong for a fifteen year old. working hard. So it was really Ondine and me and the boys. I ate my lunch distractedly. My favorite partner whenever she joined was Ondine’s sister Veronica. and summoned the troops to spend the afternoon at Plage d’Argent. Then. We made
. He was skinny. Let him or her go free.anything to do with her. I liked them all. and me and “the boys” Jean-Pierre and Jean-Remy. I hopped on the bike. as possible. who were brothers. making shopping lists. rushed to my friends’ house in the village. He had blond hair that was curly in places. we had to drag the canoe on the bottom. Once they are all dead. and did not join us very often. Veronica was older than her sister Ondine. This was probably what attracted me. Simone was busy cleaning rooms. and pretend we were on an island in the Pacific. He had the looks of an angel. I was furious at my mother.
I was struck by the color of her eyes. 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. as I usually did on cloudy days. . We had houses. see you tomorrow morning! Good night. . as close to midnight as I could. and told her I would not be home for dinner. and sat down at the table. . other than mocking or yelling. that somehow pulled you in. . Francesca wanted to be incognito.Is she here? . yet in our minds slightly above of the real locals. I mentioned that I was going to have to deal with an unwelcome guest.Is she going to have dinner at home? . ignored the Italianization of my name.Thanks. They were blue. luminous. Bambi even showed me his new zippo lighter. we did not stay in hotels. those who lived on the island all year round. Today was a good day. I shook her hand. She did not seem as beautiful as she looked in the movies. .Yes. As she looked up. but I did not say who it was. as usual. but you are welcome! . I took a shower. buttering a slice of toasted bread. I woke up late. A good day was when Bambi paid some attention to me. grabbed a t-shirt and some shorts to put on.Bummer! Said Ondine…why don’t you come to our house for dinner tonight? We’re having fish. we were locals. Francesca d’Alessi was there.fun of the people we called tourists. like pools of aquamarine contrasting with her dark skin. I proceeded to eat some toast with jam and drink some
. She extended her hand to me. I’m Francesca. and biked home as slowly as I could. Obviously. d’Alessi or not. even against your will as was the case for me that morning. So I called Simone from Ondine’s parents’ house in the village.You must be Christina…happy to meet you. and went out into the patio for some breakfast. but there was something about her demeanor. Simone was not free to talk. so I felt I had to respect that.Indeed.OK. good luck… I had a good time with Ondine and Veronica and her parents.
but had recently become mine.Not far. I just turn left on the road and walk? How far is it? .I am meeting a friend at 10:30. . she said. but sweated a little more for the math. . even less obtained as a result. So the whole thing had been arranged for Francesca to meet some boyfriend behind her husband’s back? I rolled my eyes. and they let me join in. . she was doing summer homework with her tutor. He will be here for two nights. and besides you cannot get lost on the island.No. A friend? Hell…was she going to bring Hollywood to the island? While Francesca was gathering her things to go. You need to take the ferry? (I was asking a hopeful question).Then you better leave now…it takes about 20 minutes. She spoke to me in English.coffee.So you don’t mind being here all alone for the summer? . . and her English was definitely superior to my Italian.Do you have friends on the island? What do you think!? . and telling her I would probably spend the day and evening with Ondine and the guys.Yes I do.So. I replied yes. I went to the kitchen and interviewed Simone. . and then she changed the subject. When I arrived at Ondine’s.
. . and still had not completely incorporated into my consciousness the idea that letters could be added or subtracted. I just could not believe her nerve…I suddenly was being kicked out of what used to be my parents’ house. actually I like it a lot! I tried not to sound as if I was giving her a hint… . I aced the spelling dictation as usual.Are they nice? The grilling was really getting to me. I had missed the first few days of class in algebra. D’Alessi is meeting her friend Tomaso at the ferry. and grabbed the bike after kissing Simone on the cheek out of compassion. It’s too small. to get to the harbor. but Francesca started in. thanks to Simone’s nurturing help.Mrs.
Sometimes.Oh. . and as we were tying cherry stems into knots using only our tongues.Do you guys know that Francesca d’Alessi is spending the summer here? My dad saw her at the wharf this morning. I want nothing to do with her…she’s like using our house to meet her boyfriend behind her husband’s back. . Bambi and Jean-Remy walked in. . Do you want to come? . and very soon we grew tired of looking at the sand bottom.And you were going to tell us when? Said Ondine. but Francesca d’Alessi is a dyke! Ondine was poking Bambi with her trident. . Fishing did not mean sitting quietly and waiting for the fish to bite. Fishing meant hunting down the fish. Jean-Remy caught some poor unsuspecting sand dab that day. .Hey you guys! What are you up to? .She is supposed to be incognito.Her boyfriend? Said Bambi. Besides. I don’t think she is staying all summer however… All three of them looked at me stunned. and sat on the beach. 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. as I did not remember where mine was. I know. we caught octopus and would pry the animal from the spear while it was grabbing at us with all tentacles. what kind of a traitor are you? I rolled my eyes . and spearing them with harpoon guns or hand held tridents. Bambi had brought a fishing gun. I had borrowed mine from Veronica. She is actually staying at our house.We had sandwiches and cherries for lunch. and did not want to go back to the house and look for it. I hated catching octopus and always hoped that they were all busy somewhere else whenever we went fishing.Sure… And off we went.We want to go fishing at Notre-Dame.Nothing…what are you doing today? .
. I said sighing. on our bikes. and snorkel gear. Bambi started the conversation.
I was flying in the middle of a flock of large birds. by refusing all the interviews. This was no bird. The move broke my balance. I could still hear the bird sound. It was a soft. No one was there. I sneaked into the guest room that had become Francesca’s. but I was already dozing off. and I could see evidence of Tomaso’s presence. know that?! .What? Come on! How could you. The birds were flapping their wings and calling each other with loud sounds. the bird plunged into a cloud with a vertiginous dip. finally interested in the next clue. like blue herons. intense. Things were quite messy in there. Selena Hirschberg was the dark. and the
.Have you seen him? Maybe he’s a she! The joking continued as we all went back to Ondine’s parents. so I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly. happy and comfortable.. men sized sneakers there. cuff links here. I went back to my room. like seagulls. of all people. At some point I heard Francesca and Tomaso coming in. This had driven the paparazzi crazy. and picked up my mystery book. I woke up suddenly from my dream. repeated moaning.You better beware. I was hanging on to one of them. and I started falling. Suddenly. infinite ocean. and Simone had already retired to her cottage in the back of the garden. Various items of feminine and masculine clothing were strewn on the large bed. When I arrived back at the house. . We were all soaring above white clouds. Argentinian star who had created a sensation at the last Cannes Festival after her film won the Palme d’Or. that broke into a long. and ultra grainy photos of Selena doing various menial tasks suddenly multiplied on the front pages of every single tabloid in Europe. it was still early. with long necks. feeling lighter than a feather. prolonged moan. and below us was the blue.She’s not a dyke. evoking pain or almost unbearable pleasure. I realized I was hearing Francesca and Tomaso making love. little old you. intense with sweetness. his name is Tomaso. . I swear! There was a pretty hot picture of them together.I read an article in Cinemonde…she and Selena Hirschberg are doing it. mysterious. said Bambi pointing at me…she might attack you! I shrugged my shoulders… . The sounds were gentle but seemed uncontrollable. Her boyfriend came today. who had brought a whole batch of sea urchins.
where I could not hear anything. listening. and Tomaso introduced himself. A small light went on behind the drapes in the room across the patio. I started sniffling. to the point where tears came to my eyes. and I got up and joined them in the patio.wings flapping was the sound of the headboard on the guest room bed hitting the wall. realizing they had left the door open. But all was quiet and I eventually went back to sleep. The light was turned off. I sat on the steps on the other side of the patio. the door opened slightly. . My guess was that they realized that they had forgotten to close the door last night. I heard water running. I stayed awake for a while. and then the sound of the door to the guest bedroom closing. There was silence for a while.Christina. and I did not have the nerve to go and close it for them. Francesca greeted me. When I did not respond. wearing nothing but shorts. and the moaning started again. and realized it was going to get cold. I crossed the patio and went back to my room. an immense sadness came over me. the moon was bright and the breeze was a little chilly. Someone got up. Day Three I woke up to a knock on my door. Then. It took a while. The loneliness was palpable. as I could not get a handle on it nor pinpoint the cause of it. I could see stars and some clouds. I got up. His smile was disarming and contagious. and some dark haired athlete was tiptoeing into my room. and handed me an already buttered piece of toast. He left the room. Safe in the warmth of my bed. with that racket going on. as I crossed my arms over my knees and waited until the swells within me subsided. feigning sleepiness. and the leaves of the wisteria were fluttering in the dark. whispering in Italian. wake up! .Come on.What? I was wide awake by now. more voices. Without warning. following their movements. . come have breakfast with us…we have plans! I sat up. Shivering. No way could I sleep. and went outside. the sound of laughter.
. Outside. punctuated by more laughter and a soft masculine voice. and they felt they owed me something for disrupting my sleep. They seemed to be going out of their way to pay attention to me.
Francesca wrapped me up in a warm. It was a sleek wonder of mahogany and chrome.The plan was that Tomaso was going to go water skiing. I said to myself. At night. The captain Mr. and would I please join them? Had I ever water skied? No. or even with anyone. as Tomaso jumped into the water holding the rope. bobbing by the wharf. Tomaso looked like a Greek God. and I managed to get up on the skis. so engaging. I got up by myself on the second round and off we went into deeper waters. There I was. dark green towel. I hadn’t…”today is a good day to start”. with skis and ropes sticking out at the stern. on a large circle off the coast. and there I was walking with them. It was exhilarating to be gliding on water in the frothy wake. I told them I had a crush on Bambi. We had wine. And what a day it was! The speedboat was waiting for us at the harbor. I remember looking at my foot resting on the chrome step on the edge of the boat. After I climbed back on the boat. My favorite part was letting myself sink standing upright all the way. This is how people eat it in Rome. This is how real people live. that I had to forget my anger as I walked with them to the little harbor. saying it would take the edge off my first water skiing attempt. ready to take his turn with the mono ski. He was so energetic. the sky. on my way to spending the day with them. and the Mediterranean looked like a lake of infinite blue. looking all around me while Francesca was waving from the boat. and Tomaso showed me how much more glamorous it was to eat melon with salt. Francesca’s smiling face. We had grilled “loup” with fennel. Tomaso held me for my first attempt from the beach. and the walls of water with rainbows kicked off by Tomaso. Tomaso recommended a light Pastis for me. We had melon. Francesca looked luminous and stunning. We talked about many things that I had never talked about with adults. the three of us went to dinner at the Langoustier. I thought. We exited the harbor and the boat rose up as it picked up speed toward Notre Dame. as I was feeling quite inebriated already. finally sipping that Pastis. I will remember this always. After I had spent some time enlightening
. The day was gorgeous. Vernet helped us on board and pointed to the well stocked bar in the back. Maybe this is even how my parents lived when I was not around. being part of them. when the boat slowed down far from the shore into the dark blue. said Tomaso. I declined the drink until later. Not a cloud in the sky. a Riva speedboat. he said. the wake. the misty coast beyond.
Tomaso kissed me goodnight on both cheeks. Tomaso and I volunteered to mop the floor. Running across the living room. Hear them or see them do something that was going to give me some clue as to what was really going on. I opened it and read: Ciao Christina! Good luck with the little deer See you soon I hope! Your Tomasino. I was laughing so hard. . I knew the facts of life of course.them on his name and nickname. said Francesca.Well.Wrap yourself up with cellophane. I fell sound asleep. and wait for him in his room. Eventually. as it was too shallow for the Riva to go any further. we got back into the boat. We had to jump off the boat into the water. I had tears in my eyes. After we were done drying the floor. exhausted by what had to have been the best day of my life. Day Four As I woke up. “Buona Notte. Once in my bed. I realized that there was a little piece of paper on the pillow next to my head. said Tomaso. we realized that we had made a mess by dripping salt water all over the tiles. heard some cats meowing. After dinner. lifting her glass. We waved goodbye. and splashed around as we ran toward the house. but I could not fathom what was so powerful that those who did it could lose control of their voices and their movements as if caught in a current stronger than their will.
. I listened into the night. Vernet took us back to Plage d’Argent under the moonlight. I listened. . Now that they were my friends. I was hoping that I would hear them again making love. and their conscious beings. they started giving me advice on how to “score” Bambi.Cover yourself up with whipped cream and do the Dance of the Seven Veils. and Mr. he doesn’t know what he’s missing. and joined her. night birds shrieking and rustling in the leaves. . everyone!”. and listened over the crickets. said Francesca. Francesca said goodnight cheerfully and went into the bedroom.
don’t you? What do you know that we don’t? Eh? He turned to me with his most devilish smile. I threw some sand at him. . Even Bambi. that I had sped across the water in a mahogany speed boat with ice cubes clinking in my glass of Pastis. After all. now I secretly owned the beach. we went to Notre Dame for a swim with the boys. tan and fearless. a celebration in all of France. I used to be visiting that beach. Bastille Day. I still enjoyed looking at him. 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.I suddenly remembered that Tomaso had had to leave early on the morning ferry…I folded the note. I am the one who felt irritation. as if the last piece of the puzzle had just fallen in. I would rather have died on the spot than shared anything I knew from the time I had spent with Francesca. but I was also chuckling to myself. the whipped cream and the Dance of the Seven Veils.Oh. we had sandwiches for lunch. I would suddenly be tall. I was less in awe of the new chrome zippo. and put it away in a little cigar box I kept hidden in a drawer. thinking about the cellophane. When she looked at me. We worked for a while. We usually did not have fireworks on or near the island but some people took the boat to Hyeres to watch them.Nothing. it was here that I had gone water skiing the day before. As a matter of fact. “the little deer”. that’s all!
. it was as if the world was coming together.You don’t know what you are talking about! I was sitting behind him. She was already on the phone talking in an agitated way in Italian by the time I was up and about. because you do. I noticed that everything around me had changed. and less interested in counting the number of times he spoke to me or looked at me with any expression other than irritation. Today was the 14th of July. had changed. . . My confidence had also increased. This July 14th looked like it was going to be a work day for both Francesca and me. and I actually did better in math this time. I just know she’s not a dyke. Afterwards. I waved back and grabbed my bike. I had an appointment with the tutor at Ondine’s house. She saw me and smiled at me with a little wave of her hand.
was playing “Johnny B.And on we went… That night. obviously obsessed by Francesca. We could already hear the music from the terrace.Lay off her.Looks like your friend is having a great time with the Navy. and I went to the bakery to buy a special cake. and one of the sailors spotted her.You know me? And do I know you? . said Bambi. Simone’s favorite and mine as well. . of course. on the village square. There were tables and chairs all around a makeshift dance floor. all decorated with bright colored paper lanterns and flags. Francesca was wearing a blue work shirt and jeans. over in the far corner. . Good” and singing it in French. She looked tan.
. Francesca cooked some homemade spaghetti. Francesca decided that she would invite Simone to have dinner with us. that Francesca agreed to join them. Veronica. and smiled.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. so Francesca and I walked down to the little square. as I went over to join Ondine. We had a great time. Francesca had a way of drawing people out. and no makeup whatsoever. Groups and families at the tables were laughing and lifting their glasses of cheap champagne in toasts. She took in the scene. to thank her for taking such good care of us. with electric guitars and accordions. I know you… . aren’t we protective…. I saw her disappear in a cheering sea of white and blue. . Her presence was hard to ignore. will ya? . Some local band. rum “baba”. He came over. d’Alessi. and a whole side of the square was all white and blue with their uniforms. Bambi and Jean-Remy with a smattering of parents. and I had seldom seen Simone smile and laugh as she did that night. Some of the little kids were lighting fireworks in the corner by the little church.My. Simone decided to pass on a evening of patriotic revelry.Mrs. Couples and kids were dancing. and younger than her thirty something years. Many of the sailors had come down from the fort. Then it was time to go to the July 14th Ball. and took off his hat.
The band was playing a French cover of the Rolling Stone’s Honky Tonk Women. I should have spotted the photographer and warned her. and some of the sailors joined us as well. until he finally had to laugh. So he finally stopped.What’s going on over there? . but I had not been paying attention. .Christine! You’re almost cool. We all got up to dance with her. Veronica was the most graceful of us all. so we danced like zombies together. and we all started dancing in a circle. and she was supposed to be incognito. and I proceeded to introduce her to my friends. you know that?! That was the biggest compliment he had ever bestowed on me. I looked over and Francesca was laughing with the sailors. Francesca got up followed by the photographer from Nice-Matin. She nodded yes without answering. . I’ll bet! Said Ondine… I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. I looked around for Francesca. . and seemed to be having a great time. sometimes. and twirl me around.Is everything OK? I asked. and I suddenly was ashamed of the jealousy I was feeling. and Francesca said “Oh. Veronica and Francesca ended up as a wild foursome. pick me up in his arms. .
. if a little subdued and controlled. and so did Bambi and Jean-Remy. But I knew that famous people were always torn between the fear of being recognized and the fear of being ignored or unknown. After a while. and soon he and I. I got up to greet her. I haven’t danced yet! Let’s dance!”. executed in zombie like jerks. and it made me extremely proud and happy. and it was always a joy to watch her dance with her long wavy black hair flowing like a Tahitian’s. and I saw a bunch of flashbulbs going off.I guess it’s OK with her. Bambi was more into strange Mick Jagger style poses.Looks like that little guy from Nice-Matin has spotted your friend yakking it up with the sailors. She walked over to our table.. That’ll make a nice front page. and I was more comfortable with his kind of choreography. I caught her looking at Veronica with a flash of admiration. I don’t think Francesca was counting on this. I said…still a little worried. Bambi and I were honing our zombie dance. and some tourist amateur photographers.Yes I am. I replied in a serious tone that left no room for banter. Francesca was a good dancer.
. We could still hear the music coming from the square. and twirled away back to her room.I need to go home. leaving the crowd and the photographers behind. . and as the band started playing “A Media Luz”a popular tango. I read my mystery book for a while before turning off the light. It was very dark and still warm.I’m going with you! Francesca turned around and as the flashes went off she graciously waved at the crowd. so I waved at my friends from afar.Christina. But my interest in who could possibly be the murderer had waned considerably since I had first taken it up… Day Five I could hear Simone’s voice in broken English behind the door as I was getting ready to come out for breakfast. . At some point. and we started walking home. the flashbulbs got to be a little too much.But Mrs. no moon yet. I could hear her sing to herself “y todo a media luz crepusculo interior…la la la…”. “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. sweetie… . As we said goodnight. she took my hand. everyone! Revelers and sailors were waving back and saying goodnight. so I could guide her on the trail. Hall doesn’t want Christine to go out on the water!
. and then was quiet all the way back. You just wait and see… She looked excited. Francesca took me aside on the way back to the table. . Myriads of stars were out. as if at some grand event.At some point. I did not want to leave Francesca alone. We got back to the house safe and sound. She kissed me on my right cheek. and we could hardly see. carina…I have a great idea for tomorrow. la media luz de amor…la la la”. Francesca grabbed both my wrists and looked at me with those incredible blue eyes.Buona notte.
seaworthy. and we were packing essentials for overnight. It lived in the harbor. and she instructed me to go and get it. for the boat? I did indeed. but she added that if Mr.As I walked out. pillows. As I was finishing breakfast. . She was discussing the idiosyncrasies of the boat with Felipe. . Francesca looked ready. some pots and pans. sure. my parents’ sailboat. The big duffel bag is where we kept all that was needed for an overnight on board Nostromo. and a comfortable cabin with all the amenities.Christina. Francesca talked to Felipe in Italian for quite a while. all teak and brass sloop with an inboard motor. Then. She turned to me. and with friends of my mother’s every now and then.Do you know where the “big bag” is. it would be fine with her to take the Nostromo out. less than 30 feet long. Do you know where we can reach her? Simone didn’t know. Felipe says you can handle working the jib. Felipe agreed. After my parents separated.Yes. and that the brass tacks were kept shiny as new. under close supervision from Felipe who knew the sea inside and out and who told me
. 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. I realized they were actually discussing the possibility of Francesca going out on the Nostromo. . but it was a beautiful. I’ve done it before…I had done it.She knows I know how to handle a sailboat. My father had named it “Nostromo” after his favorite Joseph Conrad novel. blankets. sheets. with Felipe the Corsican man who was in charge of maintaining it. and Felipe made sure that it was clean. is this true? . wearing jeans that were tearing at the knee. says Francesca. and taking me with her. I used to love going out on the Nostromo with my parents when I was little. it looked like it was all set. un minuto per favore…”she said. including my mystery book of course. my mother decided she hated the sea. and my father started using sailing excursions to attract young women. “Felipe. The Nostromo was small. and a striped sailor shirt. I think she was getting tired of always policing things on behalf of my absent mother. Overnight?! We were going to stay overnight? I could hardly contain my excitement. I could not help but bounce and skip on the road as we walked to the harbor with Felipe. She was smiling and joking.
I poked around in the cabin for a while. and then proceeded to do the same with the jib. She was a smooth. I felt privileged. There were very few other boats around. but I noticed that she wore a thin gold chain around her waist. almost alone with her. and nothing seemed to come easily. It looked like a perfect day though. I went below deck to dry up and put on some clothes. On the boat. I helped Francesca hoist the main sail. as I had not been sailing for a long time. her hair and face would glisten with liquid sunlight. pulled the jib from the hold to get it ready and hooked it up. Then he helped us open the duffel. But my movements were awkward and I felt at all times like I was going to fall and make a fool of myself. in a tribute to her natural beauty. she was all fluidity and elegance. The shackles were rusty with salt. She was slender and strong. but decided I did not feel like killing anything today. and we were off. where the little rocky coves were that were not reachable by land. Once we passed the jetty. down to a simple two piece black bathing suit. easy swimmer. ideal for apprentice sailors. but also intimidated to be out there. I tried not to stare at her. with calm seas and a soft breeze. We spent the day swimming and lying in the sun. Fortunately. until the light began to change and all the other boats had left for the day. We did one clumsy port tack. I recognized Bambi’s mother and a friend in a converted fishing boat. She dove head first into the green water without hesitation. it was time to sail. Finally. waved at him. Francesca decided we had to watch the sunset together. I dropped the rope ladder from the stern to make sure we could get back on. This put the breeze at our back. get out the sheets and make the two little bunks in the main cabin. found my snorkeling gear and my fish gun. Francesca started the engine. When she came up from diving. drinks in hand.everything step by step. In the water. with skin the color of light rosewood. and she
. We dropped anchor. and then I jumped from the bow. Francesca took off her jeans and her shirt. and swam around with Francesca. he pulled out the plank. brought down the sails and used the motor to pick the best cove. But there was no way I was going to say anything that might impede Francesca’s incredible plans. Francesca’s plan was to go to the Southern side of the island. Felipe partly unfurled the main sail. and I didn’t have too much work to do after all. I was nervous.
You seemed to be OK last night. When she explained something. and we sat on the deck side by side.The common wisdom is that acting is great. . other than yourself. But I always think my job is to act. the scenery was breathtaking. I’ve known them all. they are not foreign to me. . the icky ones. . .What is it like to act? Do you like it? She graciously answered the question. But it’s all right…
. the desperate ones.No. and the sun was surrounded by pink clouds. the good ones. In it. to be sure that there will be no land to interfere with their viewing of the green ray.Christina.Well. because you can be many different people. I’ve had them all at one point or another. but I have read the novel by Jules Verne. that they miss the ray altogether. She handed me my drink. they’re all you! They are all alive within you…All these different feelings.I am so glad that we came here…I didn’t feel like staying on the other side after last night. and I told the story as if I was daring to tell an intimate dream. though. with all kinds of hand gestures. she truly talked like an Italian. these people mount an incredibly difficult and expensive expedition to go to the North of Scotland to the Faeroe Islands. watching the sun go down. The rocks by the cove had taken the color of blood. Coming back up.No. And at the time when the ray finally happens they are busy looking into each other’s eyes.And do they get to see it? I looked at her.But in reality you find out eventually that all these characters that you play. Too many people… . Does it bother you when people recognize you? .made Pastis for both of us. They are so into each other. they never see it…the heroine and this guy she likes are up there waiting and waiting. Not to be on public display like that… . And all they see is love…the light of love. Francesca was asking: . it is flattering in a way…especially if they are friendly. The sun was half way gone. . It’s just a matter of filtering the right one at the right time. have you ever seen it? Il raggio verde? The green ray? .
while I stayed outside and watched the dusk fall on the walls of the cove. and I had a little bit of rose wine. . . but most of the time we live in Malibu.I don’t know for sure.Che bello…what a beautiful story… We were quiet and looking into each other’s eyes all of a sudden. I was the one who looked away first. and it opened the door to more important questions. people like me and my husband love each other. I wanted to know everything about Francesca.Why do you sleep with Tomaso then? . Francesca looked genuinely moved.Do you…huh…do you love your husband? . but no green ray was showing up. She got up and decided to make dinner.Well. California.And he doesn’t mind? . I love him very much. I have Tomaso.Do you still live in Naples? . So. to find that the sun was at the green ray point.My family lives near Naples. but he is not the marrying kind.Hmm…sometimes. . She had made another batch of Italian pasta. let me see…
. Then. .How come you know how to sail like that? .What is it that makes someone a great lover? . She had mentioned her husband. . I was determined to direct the conversation. but we are not really physically in love with each other anymore. Just like in the story. He is a good friend and a great lover.Yes. I was sailing alone when I was about your age… .Does your husband know about Tomaso? . I love Tomaso. I do. I asked the question that I was dying to ask… . My father and I would go sailing all the time. honey…but as far as I know he doesn’t seem to mind. but it was only something from a book.No…my husband has a villa on Capri and we go there every now and then..Yes he does.
.Bambi! That guy sure knows a lot! Where did he get this? . I was remaining silent. it feels very good…but I think in the long run. but I appreciated her effort. make love with Selena and all that stuff? . I said. don’t you think? . . you know. it might be bad… I was still processing this deluge of revelations from an adult I hardly knew.Yes. Those who don’t do it have thought about it at least once in their lives. . but I think he read it somewhere. She paused…looked down…then looked back up straight at me. .She was thinking hard…she was actually going to answer my question! . . I do. however. And those who are angry about it are those who want to do it the most! .Bambi says you sleep with her. that they can take you to the edge and they are still with you.A great lover is someone you feel so safe with. You would love her too… .I don’t know.Is Selena a great lover? Francesca was pensive. . .What about her? Asked Francesca…she looked like she was taken aback by the question. I’m in love with Selena.Well.Do you. . She is beautiful.Is that good or bad? . so you can stay longer… Not that this made any sense to me. believe me.It’s not so weird you know…you’ll see…everybody does it. . like.Yes. if there is such thing… Sometimes she can make you forget who you are. I was still on the attack.What about Selena Hirschberg? . Anytime I can. That’s enough motivation to be sleeping with her.You love a lot of people. and Indian. trying to wrap my mind around all of this.Yes.Well.You’re in love with Selena? . fiery. she is…too good maybe. You are not left alone out there. I am.
and the stars began to fade.Yes now! Come on. I thought…I’ve got to do it. I took off all my clothes as well. let’s do it! Let’s go for a midnight swim! Upon saying this. and the hollow sound of waves in the rocky coves.Now? The water around the boat was black and uninviting. she suddenly got up. . that it was hard to distinguish the constellations. at least some of them… I started naming them. and jumped off feet first holding my nose as usual. Arcturus. . I could see Francesca floating on her back.Yes sweetheart. but I could feel the water rippling from her movements to stay afloat. without even thinking so I wouldn’t have time to get afraid. looking at the sky. the Big Bear. the moon started emerging like a spotlight. you know. Orion. the Little Bear. Goldilocks… I was making them up. all alone in the wilderness with this woman who was treating me like her equal. smiling to myself and enjoying the feeling of swimming naked in warm waters. and I was surprised at the sense of freedom and vulnerability that it gave me. It all seemed like a dream. hardly making a splash.Yes. my heart is full…but there is always room for more. and to dive head first from the boat into the night. She laughed. Rigel. Vega de la Lyre. . .Do you know the names of the stars? She asked… . Oh. and floated on our backs looking at the stars. she proceeded to take off all her clothes. Cappella. We swam a little far from the boat.. There were so many stars. The water felt incredibly warm. I was floating too. I do. this was the life…indeed…
. On saying this.Come on! It’s delicious! What the hell. I could hear night birds flapping their wings. I could not see her very well. There I was. the Medium Bear. Francesca was listening intensely.More…tell me more… The night was calm and the air was still warm. So. remembering what I had heard about them at the Paris Planetarium.Tell me more… Sirius. . Betelgeuse. Out from behind the cove. . I was saying the names in French.Let’s go for a swim! . Swimming without a bathing suit was new to me.
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 could still feel her lips on mine. Maybe even more than that…a real kiss. 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. then just lay there and looked at the sky as I had on the Nostromo. and maybe kissed me again like she did on the boat.You know Christina. I could see the Orion in the harbor from up there. and that did a lot to make up for my disappointment. I was not a lesbian.Ah. I slept for a while. There we had
. He came to the island on the Orion every now and then. I imagined that I could have brought Francesca up here. that was Stavros Spanodakis. and how I had hoped she would never pull away. her eyes. but this was the first time I had actually seen him in person. and I had been looking forward to spending every possible minute with her. Ah.. I was distressed. The production company would love for me to give him a little push. as Bambi would say. I lay down for a long time. mainly about love. This was my last evening with Francesca. a lover’s kiss… But I was not Selena Hirschberg. he is on the list to finance my next film. he invited me to have dinner with him on the Orion tonight. There we had been. We would have walked through the pines on a really hot day. I managed to compose myself and act reasonable. I would much rather stay with you. I loved the look of her skin. I was pedaling with a vengeance. . her hair. carina… She put her arm around my shoulder as we walked. She would have taken my hand. We would have talked about all kinds of adult things. I brushed off the pine needles. and I did not feel like hanging out with Ondine and the boys. a dyke. I sighed so loud it came out as a whimper. Francesca had to pack in the afternoon. and almost made it to my favorite spot. so I took a sandwich and rode my bicycle to the top of the hill. . without having to walk the bike. and I was not even truly an adult. good…should be fun. I rolled over and got up as if rejoining the present would ease my state of confusion.Sweetie. the Greek billionaire. and walked over to where I could look at the little coves on the South side of the island. and I was angry that someone like Spanodakis had the money and the clout to abscond with Francesca any time he wanted. I loved Francesca. I don’t think she was fooled for one second by my calm demeanor.
No one can take this back.Allo? This is Demosthenes. and I was trying to make out what I was seeing. with me walking
. At around eleven. on foot. I was sure of it. and if any of the moving spots on the poop deck was actually Francesca. the phone rang. Simone and I had dinner together. There we had truly loved each other. She was breathtakingly beautiful. not even Spanodakis in his fake captain’s uniform. I will let her know. I could not help but smile… .spent the night together. She was wearing turquoise earrings. in a white evening gown that brought out her tan. all right. The portion of pier where the Orion was docked was locked so I could not get anywhere near.Oh. Simone went to her little bungalow. a little dejected by the ineffectiveness of my spying. .Yes? . She asked me if I had had a good time on the Nostromo. At the gate to the pier. I saw Francesca. When she saw me she smiled and rolled her eyes toward Demosthenes. Spanodakis. possibly…She sometimes called at the strangest hours especially if she was in a different time zone and had forgotten about it. It was almost dark when I finally came down the hill and I realized that I had waited so Francesca would already be gone by the time I got home. and I added that I was sure my parents and Felipe would be quite surprised of my progress as a sailing partner. After dinner. and turned and waved at Demosthenes. I said yes. standing by the golf cart. I heard a man’s voice with a strong accent. I could not really see anything and I went back home. It could be my mother. as I got off the bike and we started toward home. She walked toward me. I am purser for Mr. But I could see there was light on the yacht. . Instead.La Signora d’Alessi has requested that Christina come and fetch her at the dock. who kept looking in the distance for the Christina in question to come and fetch la signora in some kind of vehicle. Next to her was Demosthenes. and gold sandals. and I hopped on my bicycle and made for the harbor. 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.
of course not. back to the house. You can’t go wrong. My irritation at her dinner with Spanodakis was completely gone.Christina. do you know what you are going to do? Like with school and all? .How do I know when something is really good?
.Did you sleep with him? She laughed and frowned at me. then follow it. I got some ice water from the refrigerator. and rewarded me with a smile that melted my heart even more.Just remember to always stop and think about whether something feels good before you do it. The first thing she did was take off her shoes. She held mine in return. in mock annoyance. Good feelings led to nothing but depravation and laziness.It was good.Sweetheart.Christina! No. . . But she was still in charge. as a matter of fact he did. I reached for her hand across the table. Demosthenes climbed onto the cart and disappeared along the pier.Did he want to sleep with you? She responded seriously this time. not really…I still have a couple of years to decide. Follow it all the way and don’t look back. and I was feeling possessive. This went against everything I had ever heard from teachers and advisors at school.the bike. So we sat in the kitchen. I wanted to take care of her. But you see. . . .So. and poured her a nice tall glass.Let’s have a drink…A drink of water actually. It’s good to say no to things you don’t want to do! The hell with them! She paused… . what do you think!? .No. I chose the best glass for Francesca. I am very thirsty. She was giving me no details. not really wanting to know… . a red crystal one with cut designs. . . I can say no. If it does. how was it? I asked. I don’t have to sleep with everyone just to make a movie. please take my hand will you? You know I can’t see in the dark! And on we walked.Yes. .
OK? She waited for my answer. I wanted this feeling to never ever leave me.You know it.Oh my…said Francesca. trying to understand what she was saying. I wanted this being that I had become today. it was time to go to bed. it feels good.OK. and every sensation seemed amplified. You do something really good. I was holding her very tight. I stayed for a long time afterwards in the dark. But what
. She went into her room and closed the door. to remain within me forever. the sun was already warm and the smell of jasmine was in the air. I was looking at her. The sensation was so strange and so powerful. and I could not bring myself to pick it up. . too fast. . Tesoro. it sticks to you. trying to never forget. I could hear her and Simone moving around and talking as I got up. time to go to sleep…Come wake me up tomorrow morning if I oversleep. As we were walking toward our rooms. though you don’t always know it at first. Day Seven I did not have to wake Francesca in the morning. she turned to me and we fell into a spontaneous embrace. you can take it with you anywhere. I said. I could hear the night crickets. She finished her glass and got up. She had closed the drapes and I could not see into the room. almost in a gasp. and I could imagine her. just below the ear. When I joined them. I went out into the patio.. because it stays with you. It never goes away. a strange energy was running through me. but I knew she was there. My heart was light. She kissed my neck. and it will keep. I could have sworn I could feel our hearts beating together. as she gently released me.I will miss you. come on sweetie. and waited for Francesca’s light to go out. the mystery book was still at the bottom of my backpack from our trip on the Nostromo. I was not sad anymore. . I did too. Sleep was entirely out of the question. that I had to breathe in and out. I could smell the pine needles and I could almost feel their warmth from having spent that whole glorious day in the sun. You drink too much. but then you wake up with a headache…that’s not good. .I will miss you too. my angel.
but I had gone half way around the world before I came here… . Mr. Vernet helped her onto the speedboat. The reporter from Nice-Matin was there. When they passed the jetty.Well.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget… Then Mr. I commented on the large number of bags she was travelling with. while she sat next to the driver in front. and I could swear I saw him blushing. With Bambi. Francesca was very gracious as usual. . and sped toward the misty coast in the distance. but I knew that it had turned me upside down. the chrome step. I looked at the speedboat. after she kissed him. it looked like everyone had come to say goodbye to Francesca. I watched the Riva go slowly through the harbor. Jean-Remy and their parents.mattered most to me was Francesca’s smile.
. When we parked by the wharf. I helped load her bags in the back.Where are you going now? . . warmer to my heart than a thousand suns. Next to them. the one policeman of the island. and off they went. so were Ondine. disappearing behind its own wake. You’ll have to come and visit me… I hopped in the back of the jeep with the bags and off we went toward the harbor. I saw Bambi. At 10:30. I was the last one. she waved at the crowd. cameras in hand. I noticed with relief that she did not spend more time with Veronica than the others. then Paris.Oh. the jeep from the Langoustier came to pick her up. Vernet had come to pick up Francesca with the Riva. Veronica and their parents. the varnished wood. when she had been wearing a minimum amount of clothes while on the island. I did not quite know what the adventure was. remembering that this was where my adventure had started less than a week ago. and a small group of tourists from the 2 hotels in town. She gave me a hug. and then I will fly to Los Angeles. she smiled and gently hit his cheek in a make believe slap. to Toulon. closest to the speedboat. the postman. it rose up like a rearing horse. and whispered in my ear. and kissed them all on both cheeks. Then she came to me. She went to my friends.
When Felipe came to the house to bring the duffel bag. I asked for her permission to leave the island and finish the summer with some friends whose parents had rented a house near St. I could swim with her. I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie. Tropez. In St. . But I was determined not to cry. and we all went to see it. what does “ti voglio bene” mean? He laughed. Now stay out of trouble! Epilogue After a few more days. but was happy to be able to close the house. We went dancing until dawn. Selena was indeed very beautiful. talk to her. I asked him. we sat on the crowded beaches.I had a big lump in my throat. walk with her. I could think of Francesca and almost feel her presence. I kept imagining Francesca instead of
. go home and join her son in Vendee. and decided that I needed a change of pace. and tell her everything I had ever dreamt of telling her. Francesca would not be around to take me in her arms and comfort me with kisses. I read it somewhere. They played a Spanish film with Selena Hirschberg.Felipe. Simone was sad to see me go.Who told you that? You’re just a kid! Who told you that? . to being with my friends. How good was she. I just want to know what it means… . I lived it up as much as my fourteen years would allow me. gossiped and drove around with the older kids. I managed to return to some kind of routine in the days that followed. I was in a trance. as I was mainly interested in the love scenes. . really? The love scenes were light and tasteful.No one…no one told me. I grew tired of my languor and perpetual nostalgia. She agreed. When no one was around to distract me. That’s what it means. Tropez. When my mother called. I still felt like all my senses were in overdrive. and my eyes were stinging. life was very different from what it was like on Porquerolles. and shook his finger at me. with long black hair and very intense black eyes.It means “I love you”. favoring swimming and walking alone. in Ramatuelle they had stretched a sheet on the little square to make an outdoor movie theatre. One night.
They were separated and they had no reason to keep them. or maybe calling her. I did very well in the “baccalaureat”. So my decision I think had more to do with the fact that my father was American yet I had never been to America. I knew I could probably get her phone number through my father. read about her. This was not based on visiting Francesca in Malibu. I don’t really remember… Finally. just as I had escaped the island for St. 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 would have a dream about Francesca where we would hold each other and kiss as if we were in love. Yet. and I hoped I could get her address through her agent in Paris. it is as if their public persona is somebody else altogether. and often saw her on television. When you love someone who is in the public eye. the summer wound down. and then to the Institute for Political Studies on the Rue St. I went back to school. I thought of writing to Francesca. and since I never heard from her. and seemed to resent any interest that I showed in Francesca. I remember crying secretly in my room when my parents eventually sold the house on Porquerolles and the Nostromo. I think what I wanted most was to be away in new surroundings. And so I did. Many times. including my mother who finally came back.
. or a saint. My mother was not very forthcoming. However. I grew shy about contacting her. and settled down into the gloomy weather and everyday routine. There. Guillaume. He himself also lived in Rome. who seemed quite delighted with Selena’s performance. Every once in a while. or a famous cop. This part of my life was over.the male protagonist. I would wake up and imagine that she was having the same dream. though I very seldom spoke to him. 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 went to see all her movies. and I could not help but let it brighten my day. People around you talk about them in familiar tones as if they knew them personally. Tropez two years before. except that maybe the guy was somebody else’s husband. I arranged for an exchange scholarship with a university in California. and we all returned to Paris. But I could not really tell what made their lovemaking so exciting. and little by little they don’t belong to you anymore.
Francesca was thinking about us! I told my mother the news when she came back home in the afternoon. . I saved clothes that I liked for a future time where I would be fully alive. I had packed a new dress that I had bought the day before. a jacket and some shoes with a reasonable heel. She told me that Francesca d’Alessi had a film that was being presented at the Cannes Film Festival. and seeing the weather improve mile by mile as I approached the Mediterranean. and said that of course we would attend. I had long ago given up on any kind of argument with my mother. After all these years. though…why else would she want us there? I said I had no idea. I was secretly delighted that I was going to go on my own. I could not believe it. and walked over to the Palais des Festivals where the screening was to take place. to put it mildly. I left early in the morning. and to please thank Francesca for us. I wanted to look as good as possible. and
. I enjoyed the drive. but I hate the Festival. I had friends. kissed in cars and under piers in England where I had spent a couple of windy summers but I was disengaged from most things. and it was a woman from United Artists in Paris. their conversations and their sexual games. The Croisette was swarming with people and I had to park in a lot on Rue d’Antibes as the Martinez garage was full. I had flirted. the phone rang. I was surprised and excited. but I was always on the periphery of their circles. and I was a little bit nostalgic for myself as the kid with the no brakes bicycle and the summer tan. as it was already time to go to the screening. I did not have time to enjoy the room. I arrived in Cannes a little later than I had planned. I was eighteen years old.My life was full of schoolwork and suspended living. she said. except maybe books and films. she had reserved a room for us at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes. I picked up my ticket at the will call. I picked it up. I decided that the most fun would be to drive down to Cannes. put on my dress. I took a quick shower. My time with Francesca on the island seemed so far away. 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. and checked in. I went to the hotel. and if so. I did not know what to expect or what to think. She said that Francesca had asked if my mother and I would be able to attend. so I had passed my driver’s license test a few months earlier. I was flabbergasted. but the task had seemed daunting. One morning in May. all by myself. on the day of the screening.
designed for grand entrances and flamboyant exits. it was all worthwhile. Francesca was on screen most of the time. I was happy to be there. and she gave me the suite number. some of them I had met before. and walking on the Croisette. There were no love scenes. She was very popular in France. Thank you…I will be there! Francesca was well received by the crowd. The scene inside was exciting. She always drew people to her. I had to cross to the beach side. I had a brief moment of guilt. She had the same easy elegance that I remembered. I had a reserved seat amongst all the celebrities. and then I saw her. but had never brought me with them. to have come all this way to honor her. and whispered that the reception would be at the Carlton. The film started… She played a prostitute who was trying to escape her situation in Palermo and rebuild her life. thinking of all she had given me. My parents had gone often. after the screening. I was only interested in one of them. I got to
. She saw me. Her face lit up in a glorious smile. That was fine with me. This was my first time at Cannes. She was surrounded with people and photographers. and held out his hand to bring Francesca up for a standing ovation. the dress. the drive. yet knew how to keep some good natured distance. It was a great success. and I kept bumping into people. There was a heartbreaking sadness in the character. as she walked toward the stage. Finally. the crowd roared and applauded. and she fluttered a miniature wave in my direction. abstract way that made them seem more like nightmares than any kind of reality. The film was harsh and violent. 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. The director came to take a bow. but none of them would ever recognize me. While she was on stage and they were introducing the movie. as the crowd was thick getting out of the Palais. I made my way to the Carlton with great difficulty.walked on the red carpet to the auditorium. This seemed to serve her well in this kind of event. She was smiling as she made her way through the crowd with her usual grace. and how little I had given her in return. everything. and she was good. Suddenly. especially since she had left Hollywood. back then… As the end credits rolled. some woman came over to me. only sordid sex scenes but filmed in a grainy. I looked around for her for what seemed like a long time.
She asked me if I felt good about it. and we had a few private minutes to talk. and I was flattered of the attention he was giving me. and found the suite without getting lost. He looked at me and we both laughed.You must be Christina! He said… I feel like I know you already! Come on in…I am Marco d’Alessi. . . . surrounded by people holding champagne flutes. His name was Oliver Schneider. carina…got to work…don’t go away! Oliver brought me a glass of champagne. and he worked for United Artists in Hollywood. She held it throughout the endless procession of people coming to congratulate her. with straight longish brown hair. someone came by with a tray full of little sandwiches with smoked salmon. but he made me feel at ease and welcome. and did not offer any more details. She had to move into the next room. He was extremely handsome. He sat next to me on the couch. He was looking at me as if he thought I was beautiful. We both reached out for the same one. dressed in a tuxedo. but they gave her face a kind and soft expression that made her more real and more human. with a TV crew who was doing an extensive interview. Dio mio. I could see new tiny wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. I found him very attractive. I knocked on the door. and our hands touched. she called…come say hello to my Christina.the hotel. Francesca was sitting on the couch in the living room. Look how beautiful she is…she is going to California! A young man approached. and many other quite mundane subjects as the night wore on. and I said that I still felt a little bit tentative about everything. They were going to distribute the film. She caressed my cheek briefly. I said we had gone on a sailing voyage together. She gave me a hug. and then took my hand. and various appetizing canapes. how you have grown! Che bella! Marco. Oliver. Francesca squeezed my hand and let it go. He had a strong Italian accent and thinning hair. come sit next to me… She looked a little bit older.Oliver. At some point. and we started talking about the film. and asked me if how I knew Francesca.Christina! Oh. I told her that I was going to a university in California in a few days. He shook my free hand and talked to me while more people were coming to solicit Francesca. and a charming manner. look at her…isn’t she beautiful!? Come here. At the second glass of
. about California.Sorry. He held out his hand. . and an elegant older man opened it.
We arrived at Eden Roc. He followed me with his hand on my shoulder. it’s so beautiful there… I knew what was happening…what was going to happen. and his remark was only based on my friendship with Francesca. Isn’t it great? It was. He said that Francesca was very tired. Marco was saying goodbye to everyone. I rented it…the company pays for it. and he kissed me very lightly. “You are so sophisticated!”. We were standing very close to each other. I wanted it to happen. and would I please come tomorrow morning at 9:00 and have breakfast with them. and we
. Everything was perfect. we were driving on the lower Corniche toward Cap d’Antibes. the breeze was cool but not cold.Is this your car? . I could not help but touch the walnut dashboard. I said I would be there. This dashing young man was taking me. I knew he was wrong. He got a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator. and looking into each other’s eyes. I was looking at him as he was driving. and I did not see Francesca. I did not quite know if I was in love with him. We smoked cigarettes and had more champagne. right by the water. We were reclining on the couch.Come with me to my hotel. I was a little bit nervous. Ten minutes later. he said. We got up and went out on the terrace to look at the row of palm trees and the ocean sparkling in the moonlight. on this most anticipated adventure. I thought it would be better to see her without all these people. I felt so glamorous and grown up. of course not. and went down to the lobby with Oliver. Every now and then. I grabbed my jacket. . in a convertible Bentley. then turned away to go back to the living room. and said goodnight. smile. He opened it. he said to me. but I had a quick daydream of him and me getting together in California. and gently stroke my arm. I would have quite a story to tell Francesca tomorrow. he would turn to me. He came to us. and stopped constantly looking to see if Francesca was done with the interview.champagne I was beginning to feel good. I kissed him back.Nah. and I could not imagine better circumstances. little old me. The car was gliding silently on the winding road. But it was time for me to finally pass into adulthood. I said yes. Most people had left. but I took it in all the same. You’ll see. . He took his key and we went down to his room. It was a suite.
I started drifting off and isolating myself. 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. . but cleansing and soothing even though it was also stinging quite a bit. He got back into bed. and then he kissed me. Afterwards it was just strange to feel this movement inside of me. Oliver was kind and gentle. Oh well. He undid my dress. I went back to the room. . and I went down. exciting sensation. Our glasses clinked for the toast. I was sorry that the lights were out. I was shivering in the water. I could feel my knees trembling as he gently guided me into the bedroom. “You have beautiful shoulders”. when he put his hands behind my knees and pushed my legs back until I could see my feet in the air.Don’t worry…I will be careful. he got up and went into the bathroom. and the clouds were attacking the moon.Are you taking birth control? He asked. . I thought. I went into it up to my waist and floated a little. whatever that was. he said. and went outside. . we drank. and it did not seem to be connected to another human being. it had been very enjoyable. as we kissed and went through a few preliminaries. But then. and pretty soon I could tell from his breathing that he had fallen asleep. turned away from me. I was getting really cold.Here’s to us. which looked out on a little rocky cove in which the sea formed a natural pool of shimmering moonlight. The water was cold. as we sank onto the huge bed flooded with silver light from the open window. I felt sticky and afraid to move. he said. know everything and be fully present. because I wanted to see everything. I am going to have to practice this to get better at it. So this was what made the world go round. Feeling someone’s naked body against mine was a brand new. at the critical moment. At first. I got up. The pain was not too bad.
. There were no stars. Afterwards. I could not believe that people like Francesca would find themselves ever in such an undignified position. though it was sharp and radiated all the way to my throat.went out on the deck. I guess I was not going to be one of these great lovers after all…I hadn’t gone to the edge. I was for a time. I stayed in the bed and pretended to be asleep. I felt numb and detached.No. I am not.
I went into the bathroom. but I did not want Francesca to see me in the same clothes as last night. Then I went back into the bed and eventually entered a dreamless sleep. and all kinds of trivial questions. and dialed the code… “Hi carina. and went into the dressing room to get dressed in private and digest my humiliation. which I have to say hurt my feelings a little. The sky was overcast. 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. People come here on honeymoon all the time”. under the covers. He did not argue very much. . But can you come at 8:00 for breakfast? We realized we could get on a flight directly from Nice to Rome instead of going through Paris. this is Francesca. He asked me if I wanted to be dropped off at the Carlton. So he took me to the Martinez. I wanted Francesca to know that I had slept with Oliver.Oliver was still asleep. We exchanged phone numbers. and ran hot water all over myself. and we need to be at the
. and what I could have done to improve my performance? But I did not feel like I knew him well enough to ask. and I waved at him as he pulled off on his way to play tennis at Eden Roc. I took a shower. when he was returning to California. dressed in tennis whites. and said: “Don’t worry…they’re used to it. and rushed to my room. He opened the door of the Bentley for me. It was five minutes to nine.Good morning! Shall we order breakfast? I apologized and said that I was supposed to have breakfast with Francesca at the Carlton at nine. I really wanted to ask what he thought of me as a lover: had I been really bad. I wanted to hide it from her. He kissed me goodbye as a satisfied lover would. and off we went. He noticed my expression of dismay. and I did not linger. and stuck to nervous small talk to avoid silence. when I saw that the message light on the telephone on the nightstand was blinking red. but my mind was already with Francesca. When I woke up to the sound of the shower. I picked up my key. I led the conversation. and I needed to freshen up and be by myself for a while. so we left the top up. as I was going to drive back to Paris today. I know it is early. Oliver came out smiling and handsome. Somehow. I picked it up. and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. asking him where he was going. last night. it was already eight o’clock. This morning. and put on my travelling clothes. Honeymoon…yes of course…I covered up the spot.
I would ask Francesca if we were really in love
. and saw that a black limousine was waiting in front of the Carlton. as now my cheek was right against hers. I could see the Carlton Beach sign and I was focusing on it. We can’t afford to miss this plane. The words came out of me on their own. . to not have to wait for the red lights. I would love to see you…love you sweetheart”. sweetie…go for the good life. I was holding her very tight. out of breath and disheveled. What I really wanted to do is go get the car. . but I managed to cross the street without making a commotion. “You!” She said smiling and pointing her finger at me in mock reproach. way out there on the Croisette. -I love you! Oh…I love you! I must have choked on the last word. and drive straight to Rome as fast as I could. The window started going up. I looked over to the other side. not wanting to look anywhere else until I was there. but rushed and fell into her arms. once at the sign. I watched it drive away until it was a mere little black dot. Finally. always…you’ll get the hang of it! Marco came to separate us gently. then glided on toward Nice. shooting starts tomorrow morning… We let go but I held on to her hand as the driver opened the door. all the way until Francesca was finally sitting in the car. “You cheated on me!” I did not reply. Christina…but we need to go.Ciao Christina! . I had left my handbag at the Martinez so it would not slow me down. . The limo started off then did a U-Turn around the center divider. Marco was waving at me from the other side. I crossed over on the beach side.Sorry Francesca. I surprised myself with the intensity of my emotion. Oh my God! I had missed them…It was 9:05…Maybe there was still a chance…I rushed down the stairs without waiting for the elevator.Don’t be sad.Come to Rome! Please come visit! Said Francesca.airport at 9:30. I must have grown. Please come. I was relieved. There. and started running toward the Carlton as fast as I could. Francesca was calm as usual. Then I saw Francesca and Marco walking out of the hotel. and she disappeared behind it. Francesca spotted me immediately. The tinted glass was too dark. I could not see inside. uncontrolled.
I had to find out her address. and now.with each other. I had to return the car to my mother. I think the woman next to him was Francesca’s mother. then I would insist that we do something about it. that I saw my father walking in the crowd behind her casket. trying to get a handle on an unfathomable grief. It was during a week of finals for me in California. but did not see him. I did not have my passport with me. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. driving to school. with some other family members that I did not know. But I did not do it of course. Why was I so eager to lose my virginity that night of all nights? Why did I insist on changing at the Martinez. I finished school eventually. I guess. on warm summer evenings when the sky was especially purple with the best sunsets brought on by pollution especially in Los Angeles. I saw Marco. Francesca was their friend. And if so. I did not attend. taller. I never did go and visit her in Rome or anywhere else. and I could not imagine myself spending my life with any of my partners. looking despondent. I could not believe neither my mother nor my father found it necessary to call me and tell me in person. Francesca d’Alessi was killed six months later in a head on collision with a drunk driver somewhere near Ostia. I stayed out of any relationship with anyone for quite a while. I was in my car. I had managed to miss her in Cannes. and ended up in the unlikely situation of pursuing a musical career. I was so stunned. that I had to pull over and try to take in what was being said on the radio. 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 hated taking birth control pills. I was in the middle of finals. after she had invited me. Besides. I looked for Tomaso. and I had to report to school in California by the end of next week. and paid for a hotel room that I didn’t even use. I could swear in one of the newscasts. aside from some depressing one night stands that seemed to be the normal thing to do at the time. I found solace in playing music and singing. Sometimes. now that I was not only older. a languid feeling would come
. But instead of getting a good job related to my studies. I don’t think they would have been very supportive. full of regret and unanswered questions. and not mine. My mother did not attend. As it turns out. but a real woman. way back then. I was just alone.
In my case. . order anything from milk to 12 year old Scotch. to visit family and old friends. no. You can sit on the terrace and people watch. or read a book. perfect. with friends or alone. there are cafes. 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.over me to assuage my loneliness.I do…I love you. in the chic part of Silicon Valley. and to a semi-Californian it is always amazing to see and feel how animated the Paris streets are and how the passers-by. and an eventual movie. they are real places where you can go and spend all day. It was a beautiful sunny day. amore. -Tell me that you love me… . There is no implication of the place being special. even though they might sometimes be rude or angry. because it took me so long and so many years to finally understand all the things she had said to me. Here in Paris. a totally non famous and nondescript café on the Rue de Babylone. always seem more alive and more at ease than
.Ti voglio bene…don’t forget! But I must have forgotten. tell me in Italian! . on that warm day in June. Francesca would be there with me.Francesca. . and I would imagine our dialog… . tell me life is good. In California where I live. or cool. where I was born. or inhospitable for any reason. and take a healthy vacation away from my job and my problems in California. it was just a nice place to rest between bouts of shopping.Life is good. I had come to Paris. But they are very self conscious and snobbish in a cheap sort of way. it’s just a home away from a home that might be far away. across from Le Bon Marche department store. or even write one if so inclined.No. I was sitting with my friends George and Francine outside “Le Babylone”. athletic and free as she was when I was fourteen years old.
the only comments she seemed capable of were: “I liked it!” Why. weathering flashes of interest. why did you like it Alison? “It was good!” or “I hated it!” Why? “It was sick!” or “I hate Cher!”. started interfering with my side of the conversation. I don’t believe they were really interested either. I knew a lot about them. but with whom I cultivated a decidedly distant approach to really personal conversations. they had been married for more than twenty years and I had even accompanied them through some rough times.
. whether it is between women. But Alison had gone for the whole kit and caboodle. unless it turned out that she went back to see it with Marie. Besides. After she left me. It was an esoteric South American work but it still put us on the edge of our seats. I had a flash suddenly of how much we enjoyed the film when we saw it. and the thought of her. Yet the minute you approached this fluttery harvest. our film talk was far from shallow and involved a lot of revealing comments and humor. insidious. it took off with a racket like so many banners flapping under hurricane winds. which gave me a real feeling of closeness when we talked. show or otherwise. or even in San Francisco. Pronouncements that were definite and unquestionable. tempered with the confused appraisal of some unspeakable darkness.the crowds in Hollywood. I think they would be really concerned and ready to intervene if something awful happened to me. men or whooping cranes. clustered in the trees in the Parc Boucicaut across the street. George mentioned in passing an old film I had seen with Alison. Marie…I guess I could see what was attractive about her enough to understand flirting with her. I remembered what fun it was to talk with her afterwards about what was so good about this scene or that scene. wavering. But they knew close to nothing about me and my personal life. leaving me at a loss to understand anything ever again about any relationship. There were pigeons everywhere. but for the time being they were quite content with the status quo and so was I. and Marie liked it. like grey fruit ready to be picked. not out of indifference but out of bad habits contracted in the process of living in the world of fashion and business. whom I regularly saw at each of my yearly visits. mainly about movies and filmmaking which is what Francine did for a living. I was having a lively discussion with my friends.
and to be present in the conversation. George and Francine were in stitches. but I surprised myself by going out of my way to liven it up. across from the doorway. He was asking me questions about a common friend. She was reading a book. I became conscious of the fact that I was talking to George about something. Her expression was soft and bright. and had thick dark hair tied up in an unruly bun. I felt some relief. She sat down. and I was craning my neck trying to see what it was. She came back very soon. The terrace was fairly empty. wearing the same Ray Ban sunglasses that Francine was wearing. I had appreciated for years in Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. She got up and went inside. and how I had met her.
. It was Marguerite Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”. She was drinking a café-crème. They had been my silent supporters and companions through years of solitude. I had seen the movie long time ago. which I did with some success. I started telling the story. as if I was on stage. She looked at me very briefly. a woman was sitting. He hates it. It gave it an Indian look that reluctant as I was to give Marie anything positive. She did not look like Marie in the least after all.I blinked and forced myself to not think about her. and even though it was not really elegant. and picked up her book again while the waiter brought her another café-crème. put on her Ray Bans. here it was again. as if during an intermission. The anecdotes kept pouring in. at the terrace of the Babylone. and in spite of my incredible efforts at mind control. and as she walked through the door back to the terrace. but I was looking over his shoulder at the woman. Her book was still there. she was smiling while looking in my direction. unlike Marie. and the audience hates it too. Only after I caught out of the corner of my eye the woman smiling and looking in our direction. I made a conscious effort to start looking at him. it made her face look exotic. did I realize that I was doing all this for her benefit. and all I remembered from it was some kid playing a sonata on the piano. facing the rounded sidewalk. We were sitting at the narrow end of it. and pursued the conversation. with cute wisecracks and colorful descriptions. willing my thoughts away from California and back here. Unbelievably. Marie had a straight Greek nose. Next to us. the woman looked remotely like Marie. and they could do no wrong. huge green eyes. make it wild and funny. I saw that she had taken off her sunglasses. and she had beautiful. The woman was thin.
I took in the white collar. the woman and I were the only ones wearing tennis or basketball shoes and not jogging or playing ball. I got up too. I am in love. their favorite mode of transportation. and my mind was racing all over the place. absurd temptation of going right back to the café was grabbing me and telling me to stay on the edge of my seat. I think those tennis shoes got me especially because in the entire city of Paris. beige oversize canvas handbag. as if in a dream. in this café. I thought. “It must be something in the air” Francine was saying to the waiter as an excuse for our absent mindedness. There had been nothing seductive about the woman. old people. tight black pants. ready to
. I hopped on. We came back. grey sweater. George and Francine were getting ready to leave. in the company of people who would not understand anything of me and my life. There had been nothing but a light smile and a square look. Just like that. and who were not close enough for me to make the superhuman (for me) effort of coming out.My heart started pounding. We were walking through the park amongst myriads of running toddlers. and shady characters. and occasional lover to a forlorn jobless actor or two. nuns. As I was saying goodbye to my friends. I was tempted to stay at the café and talk to the woman. The insane. No stealthy approach or meaningful glance full of sexual undertones. Here. but I had already told Francine and George that I had to be somewhere. There I was right here in the land of my youth. we were gone. when Francine realized that we had forgotten to pay. I was going to take the Metro since I didn’t have my mother’s car and they were going to take the bus. all hanging out in the same sunny garden. We said goodbye again. secretly hoping that the train would be endlessly late so I could come back up and see if the woman was still there. and I rushed into the station. Then before I even knew it. But that was precisely what attracted me. where I had only been a good daughter and friend. that I would have these feelings here. This is ridiculous. We were already crossing the Rue de Babylone to go through the park. Unthinkable… It was unthinkable. in Paris. and white tennis shoes. But the train was prompt and ready. and started flying with my thoughts toward Solferino. I was looking behind them to remember everything about the woman. and the woman this time did not look up. Panic… No other word can describe the chaos that was taking place in my brain.
On the other hand I can’t spend my life loyal to Alison in thought. what would I do? I was here to visit family and friends who did not know anything about my life. This is the craziest delusion I have ever had. and I had to explain why I had come back? On the other hand. you can get rid of the very shame that shaped your being. after an excruciating wait at Solferino and an endless journey. fantasizing and making a big deal out of nothing. 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. and getting battered constantly by her lack of interest in who I am and what I do or say. Everything happens for a reason. I was interested enough in someone or something to actually be tempted to go look for it. and it was all for a reason. after already making two exits in a row? “Hi! I see you like Marguerite Duras. here I am. every woman in Paris who doesn’t walk around in men’s clothes and slicked back short hair is absolutely straight in every way. I am being overcome by a romantic delusion born out of hellfire.bolt when the train reached Solferino so I could run to the other side and jump on the train back to Sevres-Babylone. What would I say to her if I came back to the café. Besides. I automatically assumed the woman was French. and give yourself new pride in a world where everyone is willing to address you as an adult. finally pulls into Sevres Babylone…I am walking very fast…not
. I’ve read all her books. She is tres amusante!”. for the first time since losing Alison. which would also make me very uncomfortable. where I belonged. glued to the moleskin until my final destination near my mother’s house. So what kind of mess would I get myself into? Oh. What to do? What if I came back to the café. Just because she knows me already or thinks she does. and if things did happen for me. Only people who exile themselves voluntarily like I had can understand this sentiment. I automatically lose any appeal I might have had. what if? Chapter Two The train. and ran into George and Francine still waiting for their bus. On the other hand the infamous cold and oh so arbitrary voice of reason was telling me to stay right there. But still…If the woman was in any way interested. The fact that I thought for a second that she looked like Marie was enough to attract my attention to her. By the way. In a foreign language.
I said in French. pretending to make a phone call. mind you. I’ll run into George and Francine. I can go twice as fast.
. I see the waiter bringing stuff. She still has not looked up. it is dark. Ten past four. and I can’t even pretend to go to the bathroom. at the same table where I was with George and Francine. The escalator. d’ou vient-elle? I like your watch. It smells bad. in California. Someone gave me the face as a present. I was all wrong. tennis or not. but this time I am sitting next to her and not facing her as I was before. she will be gone. up. with an empty café crème in front of her. and said: . It’s always time to try liking things I never liked before… . .Well. -No.Oui? -Est-ce-que vous avez l’heure. and that is good. She does not look up. He does not seem to recognize me. Downstairs. asking me what I want. out into the sunlight. Besides. Up the stairs…No. I walk past her and go inside the café. but she spoke to me! . s’il vous plait? The time…I did detect an accent. but I still don’t see the terrace facing Le Bon Marche…Ten more steps. if I wait any longer. and Francine has warned me that the toilet was a Turkish toilet. I said in English also. I come back up. . God! This street is crowded…I am walking on the park side of the Rue de Babylone…The café is in sight. If I go slowly. She is still there. Up. but I have lived there for twenty years. here it is…She is still there! Oh dear! What do I do now! She has her sunglasses back on. where does it come from? . she can leave anytime. but walking very fast. If I go fast. What do I do now? The waiter comes. I’ll have a café crème. I sit down at the terrace. Maybe she wasn’t French after all…I flashed my new watch with mountains on it.running.Quatre heures dix. and I bought the band where I live. In French as I feared. I sort of designed it.Oh! Are you an American? She said in English. I’m not. I can’t aim properly in Turkish toilets (how do real people do it?) and it would not do any good to come back up with wet shoes.Excusez moi… She spoke to me.J’aime votre montre. and she is reading the book.
Right now. warm and maybe a little sad. The conversation flowed very easily. this…I am reading it for my job…Fortunately. but it paid well. freer somehow that what had gone on earlier with my friends. there was a lull in the programming. I am one. and it’s the end. I introduce myself to her. -Working with men is hard enough to begin with.You speak French beautifully. She had just broken up with a boyfriend (OK…I get this…) and she was staying at a friend’s apartment Rue de Nevers. This man and this woman meet in a café. seemed to have trouble swallowing. And then it came. let alone working with the ones we love…She too. she was from New York.Oh. and it gave her a visa. My name is Linda. an easy. I’m glad to meet you. She had a job as a production assistant for one of the TV Stations. I said in pure American ritual.. it is very short. and you can read the most obscure French books without any problem. and I was not nervous anymore. She took off her glasses and put down her book. Her name was Linda.Well. mind you. at the beginning of June. and whom I still cared about a great deal. all these attempts at eradicating her out of my mind forever and ever. no preparation. Alison again…I could not believe that the pain was so very much alive after all this time. cheerful laugh. Linda said. I said. . -Linda. We laughed together. she said. with no warning. and she had lived in Paris for three years now. Alison is a woman…Not that it makes it any easier. The friend was travelling around the world or something for a few months. I explained to her my situation. my work at the theatres. my failed music career. I said: -Oh. fast and easy. yes? . and she was trying to decide whether to stay in Paris or go back home. and she had a little time to do some research way ahead of schedule. I remembered that she was reading a book in not so evident French. I am from New York. no calculation. she said. She did not look like Marie at all.
. She was beautiful. and my eyes started stinging when I described how hard it was for me to work with someone I had once been involved with. nothing happens. It was pretty hectic and disorganized. Her smile was absolutely devastating. -Hi Christine.
the pigeons and the department store had somehow disappeared from my consciousness. talking with this stranger about almost intimate things just like that! I was still a little carried away. Four forty five. I was supposed to go visit a friend. as I realized I did not want to go to the movie anymore if it meant losing precious moments. I go to the movies alone very often! She looked at me with an air of defiance. I said it half heartedly. Ripley used to be Alison’s favorite hero and role model. I think the waiter came and we both ordered sparkling waters. and maybe I had just made a new friend. simply. define it. how he created the character of Ripley. I’d like to go with you. intelligence. I looked at my mountain watch again. -Not really. and kinder.
. and who paid for what. I was not about to throw it all away… -What movie is it? I explained about Thelma and Louise. I had been brave. and let it close naturally when its pain would not be needed anymore. about Ridley Scott. I wanted to understand everything. and I felt so totally comfortable that I didn’t even resent the fact that the conversation started rolling on safer subjects. strong and true. or the woman who managed to be proven right. and how I liked most of his films.Do you have to be somewhere? She asked. gloriously. but I have no real recollection as to when. really…! -No kidding! We laughed. and said: -If that’s OK. I had come back to the café. like movies and books. as I gladly noticed a shade of disappointment in her expression. open it up to the air. looking into my eyes without a trace of discomfort or avoidance: -Men. -Were you going alone? -Yes. any new friend was a welcome resource for my Herculean task. these days. But. women. but instead I’d like to make the 5:30 show of this new movie I’ve been dying to see. I was sobered up by the fact that she had a boyfriend. So. compassion…She seemed to have jettisoned them from her own personal Nostromo space ship. The street. it’s all the same. . The good part was that I had been open with her. and come out of it all happier. I had not yet stopped to take a reality check. wiser.Linda smiled. how. I was always on the hunt for new insights about relationships so I could heal this poorly sutured wound of mine. and shook her head. and still not die a horrible death in the end. Courage. Here I was.
But I was not about to believe that straight women could ever be turned around. Sometimes. -Oh. If we could be friends. 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. We actually took a cab to the movie theatre. She smiled. I said. it was better than nothing. but it’s very recent. I asked. I loved going to movies with Alison. and things are not yet very clear between us. Do you still have any kind of relationship with him? -We’re trying very hard to be friends. and I respected the fact that she was straight and that was that. then he met this Italian model. and we went all the time. My host was very sweet. Julien and I were together for two years. I added that I was very happy that she was coming with me to the movies. it feels like we could or should be lovers again any minute. and sometimes I think that she makes a point of showing me how little she cares about me. Yet a feeling of excitement that felt almost like deep happiness came over me. and was talking excitedly about the Musee d’Orsay. and I might as well find out the details. and the film itself was about to start. 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. it’s simple. the houselights went down. she said. there is always a great feeling of expectation in the room. As I spoke. it was easier because there was no interference to our conversation. I had not taken a cab through Paris in years. We had fortunately missed the endless string of commercials that show in French theatres. I said. and now he is with her. -Not really. It’s no fun. and it became suddenly a little more substantial. Are you friends with Alison? The question sounded very natural. which was a very fancy one on the Champs-Elysees. and I thought I could feel some unexpected emotional current surging between us. When the lights dim in a theatre.I was taken aback by the request. -What happened with your boyfriend. -I know the feeling. I did not feel nervous. It was very exciting. because I did not have any expectations. but I could definitely identify with her on that one. and I felt like visiting royalty. The details were slim. Where did the train tracks use to be? I said I had no idea. Once we were seated. I still had this hand holding reflex when we started going
. I said that would be quite all right.
and rushed down into the Metro. I’m having dinner with a friend. I felt like I knew her. and while the plot was progressing. and I held a stiff position most of the time so our legs would not touch and I could maintain an excruciating formal distance. I felt a little bit the same way with Linda. she grabbed my wrist. and then I realized what the problem was: How would I see her again? We hadn’t made any
. -Oops. Equally seriously. I felt like taking Linda’s arm as we walked out. I liked especially when she would make a comment to me in a whisper. and where anything was possible including friendship. It was only to look at my watch. in a strange sort of way. and she was saying to me with seriousness and emotion: . -Well. Sometimes she smiled softly the way Alison used to. Linda seemed to react.I loved it. The temptation was not far. and her hair would feel like a caress on my temples. and looked at me every time there was something particularly funny or difficult. she had already disappeared through the swinging doors. said “nice meeting you” in a hurried tone. flashed that incredible smile and said:”I really liked talking to you. It was a little bit like being with Alison again. The film was good. because she stopped. turned around. but in a situation that was not blocked or preordained. and I’m already very late. but I never minded that if there was a good reason for it. but somehow exhilarating and empowering. I said in what must have been a heart rending tone. but not close enough to distract me from what was happening on the screen. Thank you very much for letting me come along. violent at times. nice meeting you too.to movies again after she and Marie broke up. At the end of the film. She shook my hand formally. you know” I did not have the time to answer. The whole experience was strange. the two women characters find no way out of the world around them. I have to run. including love. it’s late. I turned to her and thanked her too. Alison and I would somehow communicate through the movies. it seemed that I could tell how she felt at every minute. and our cheeks would touch. It was very sad. and jump to their deaths in a green T-Bird in a flash of sunlight that looked like Heaven. but I always kept it in check. As we walked out into the still sunny street. I stayed frozen in space for about five minutes.
. I watched the news on TV with my mother for a while. it’s on theirs too!”. as long as I did not have to be plunged again into a sea of unreality where love turned into meanness. and what a fool she was to be letting it go. just to have someone to go to the movies with. In a way. honey.plans. She would listen to me very patiently. and then some program which happened to be about a man and a woman who meet in a café. I made something good happen in my life and then let it go. except in cases where someone is really self-destructive. But I also believed that Alison really did love me. to keep my attention on anything. out of some kind of careless paralysis? I used to always accuse Alison of being passive. and very silently. Like “Moderato Cantabile”. let them go. How stupid can I be? Is it possible that once again. I always found this to be quite true. stupidly. How could I still love Alison after all the hell I had gone through? If someone doesn’t love you. 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 not believing that she could play a real active part in her own life. Did the book ever mention the stupidity of the person who lets it all slip by. Loving them can only be an exercise in self-destruction. I was ready to accept any situation including total separation. But in a way also. I was. then she would have wanted to. nothing happens. and sometimes I would feel like I had been trying to convince her to be with me. I had vanquished my own passivity. it felt to me that I could be one of these. nor exactly where she lived. So I would talk to her and try to make her see how valuable our relationship was. Now. If she was interested in me as a potential lover…if she was…My friend Ruth always said “if it’s on your mind. but it was too late. like a traveling salesman pushing some household cleaner. out of a lack of reflexes? Damn! I ran down into the Metro myself trying to catch up with her. and falls hopelessly in love with a picture of Madonna. I did not know her last name. and it’s the end. just to drop the ball again and be sitting alone thinking: Why. How could I have lost her so soon! Chapter Three It was very difficult at home. They meet. cruelty or indifference. for once. The platform was empty and the trains had already left. doesn’t appreciate you. and that she was the one who was self-destructive in not recognizing that. But these days.
it was time for practical considerations. and letting it give meaning to my suffering? Sleep was eluding me. then what’s the point? How could I wiggle my way through these traps of destiny and bad timing. unattainable. Maybe this was what had stopped me from asking Linda if I could see her again. When Marie left her. and some people do want to be with me! I had the strong impression that Linda liked me. What to do? And suddenly. I always felt then. she would be there. Here’s to you. I could go lurking there until she showed up. Ruthie! Here’s to you Alison who that the nerve to call me sick for loving you. you said. Above all else. If there was some truth to all this. Tomorrow or the next day just like in “Moderato”. and pretend that I just happened to be in the neighborhood. I could see her face. pleasure. But if to get something you have to not want it anymore. Letting Linda go…Listen to me…I did not even know the woman. The phone book was useless since I did not know her last name. I had an idea. and end up satisfied with my life? Was there room in our world for ease. Bad timing. the next day. Be remote.
. and she was staying at a friend’s anyway. and we had gone to a movie together. She said she lived Rue de Nevers. and therefore undesirable. you know. she and I started having conversations that were very powerful and intimate. 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. Marie-like nose and all. because I was open about my potential availability. and you will have everything. Yet my feelings were so strong. that Marie and I were competing for Alison’s allegiance in a tug-of-war. As if this woman was going to avenge me for all the pain I had gone through. and what might even be called true love? Was I sick for believing in it. Well. and catch me unprepared for the distance that I should have taken right away. she would contradict her previous statements. Then. a move that seemed to surprise nobody but Alison. hating myself as I did for letting Linda go. maybe it was time for good timing now.that ever mattered was dropped into a black hole of oblivion and emptiness. and that I was bound to lose every time. I can still fall in love. I decided that I would go by the Babylone at exactly 4:00pm tomorrow. No. No big deal. To make the approach in such an indirect way would wreck the spirit of things. Yes. It was hard to get my mind away from Alison. and that was why I liked her so much.
Or maybe she would not be there. creating a handy image of disposal-with-humor. but I guess that’s what makes me so uninteresting. Like hell! Let’s have a cigarette and think. risked. I had been smoking much more since the loss of Alison. There was a connection between its atmosphere of danger. There is nothing going on there. my mind and my heart will be full of nothing but brick walls. The anti-smoking fanatics were not helping with that. It would give me something to do in the afternoons. I could never forget it. I am giving all kinds of meanings to a nondescript encounter. Linda…I don’t even know Linda. Then. “Village of the Damned”. rebellious aura to it. Because I am craving the feeling of being loved. Smoking fought loneliness and feelings of being incomplete and inadequate. Don’t think about Alison. Yet there were crazy things that could be done. I had trained my mind to think about a brick wall (remember. that gave you some power even though you had none. I remembered how upset she seemed about her boyfriend. and not take any risks. Maybe that was what life was all about. Why? Maybe because it was the first grown up thing I had ever done. It was a risk to be honest with Alison about my hope of getting back together. Then I would come back day after day until I had to leave to go back home to California. Ah! But here I go again. the one with George Saunders?) or a flushing toilet. I kept seeing Linda and the way she looked at me. and the way I felt now. I kept trying to sleep.
. its forlorn country rock soundtrack. uncertainty. 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. Something is going on there. Stop. I’m not so hard to please after all. Stop that too…One day. and it still had that liberating. in a nondescript café. Alison…Where are you now? Why did you leave me in this predicament? No. Linda…Should I take this seriously? Should I forget about it all. and every time I closed my eyes. And yet…How many times do strangers ask you to go to a movie with you. not embark on the adventure whatever it is? It would be like pretending to Alison that I would never get back with her even if she was writhing at my feet and spitting on Marie when that was not really true. which I guess soothed me a little. and in between movies. I am crazy. “Thelma and Louise”. when I should think about a brick wall and go to sleep. and I think they turned more people into smokers by provoking their rebel selves. Maybe it would all end up in a flash of sunshine and then nothing. and look at you like you were their long lost salvation…Ah! Sleep now. Sleep. What fun.
Maybe rain was in the air this time. something unique and wild. and I was hoping that the traffic would be very bad so I could go slow and not arrive early. go and go to the Babylone. wait. Why? Because if there was anything to it at all. big deal. She was not there. and make plans to have lunch with her and do something that would distract me. Suddenly I was sure Linda was going to be there. it was three thirty. I had the car today. I must have slept for three hours all and all. it was worth it. I walked up the stairs. Francoise had advised me to go. let’s go up and see. Pocket books? Yes. At least you tried. and we’ll solve it all in two sentences and three jokes. and wild things to die for? Movies were the closest thing to something like this. look stupid and not know what to do with myself.I woke up very early. Alison does not want me.
. all TV stations if I didn’t know which one it was. I went down to the telephone. You can’t lose what you never did gain in the first place. Marguerite Duras. My watch. Ha ha. no such perverted thoughts can reach a pure mind. Parking was going to be a pain. Besides. I went in. Oh well. Maybe find a copy of “Moderato Cantabile”. Maybe she was inside. No Linda. I suddenly started feeling lighthearted about everything. What if there is nothing? Then the woman will not even understand what you were up to. but not on the shelf. and came back down to call a friend. to have breakfast with my mother. Worried about parking. It was there all right. What else is there in the world than unique. I don’t even know what I’m missing! I’ll just have fun with my friend Francoise. her loss! I will never see Linda again. The terrace of the Babylone was empty. Out on the street. do it all. Create something different with life. Yes. lurk Rue de Nevers. and stared at everybody. Five past four. Besides. So here I was. She will tell you to get lost and you will. through the store almost running. It’s time. Maybe she was a regular. that would be fun. OK. It took forever to reach the bookstore. I would still have time to go by the Babylone and check out the scene. My mountain watch. Look up the listings. Friends were the only solid value these days. Brick walls were not necessary. and maybe spend the rest of the time until four o’clock in the store. They had every book she’d ever written except that one. It was cloudy today. I decided to go into the Bon Marche parking lot. I’ll do what I can. spy at the TV station. Maybe he knew her. OK. The waiter stood in my way and said “Bonjour!”. pretending again to make a phone call. I went upstairs. I started feeling better. and everything was going to be OK. this one knew all about me and I could ask her advice and talk about Linda. different. Too early.
I was. on your right. I had the car again. Do you have “Moderato Cantabile”? Yes. a fool with Linda. I had my day organized in such a way. too late to go to the Babylone. Come on. I had parked it on the street. That’s that. all these figments of my fertile imagination. I cannot wait any longer. and sat at the terrace. Alison. and had a good time. I will not come back tomorrow. since I was so tired. Twenty past four. furious at her. I had seen everything. and just start reading it. The waiter came. Just to pay tribute to the potential of what could have been. that I could not possibly have time to visit the Babylone. and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Let’s waste some more time. careful to swing one more time by the Babylone. even though I did not quite understand it. It seemed forlorn and deserted. No one was there. just in case. lucky in love” every time I had trouble finding a spot.Ah! What the hell! I was disappointed. however. Ah! A semi-obscure polish movie was playing at the Publicis Saint Germain. What a fool I am! A fool with Alison. and decided to go to the café. Alison used to say: “Unlucky in parking. Linda. The car was the other way. and I did not feel like sitting down and ordering something. I opened the book and started reading… She arrived behind me. Here it is again. a fool all the way. The next morning. Quarter to five. I have too much to do. That’s far enough. be real. It was all a ridiculous fantasy. It was too late. at everything. I went and enjoyed the film. Like that. but what the hell. here it is second shelf from bottom. I was going to be a normal person. and this time. Forget it. 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
. Here’s a bookstore. Why not? I have nothing else to do anyway. walking in that general direction. pretending that I was someone else than I was. I bought the book. I did not even look at anything. have lunch with some members of my family. a once in a lifetime spot. I successfully avoided all impure thoughts. I had probably dreamt the whole thing. I had a faint temptation to see Thelma and Louise again. and go to a movie late and far enough that it lasted beyond four. but I felt there would be too many ghosts there. I checked the Pariscope for films. I looked at my watch: four thirty. I slept better than the night before. and I ordered a sparkling water. drove the car out. The irony was just perfect now. theatres. dejected. I think from the inside of the café. I went back down into the parking lot. and schedules. which is a sure sign of great intellectual content.
and it is happening. . I was hoping to find you again. . she was wearing jeans and a black sweater. I did not know how to get in touch with you. . exciting.Yes. I sure did not know how to get in touch with you! I was planning on coming here every day until you showed up. and I just hid the book in my bag before she had a chance to see it and catch me at being sentimental. I won’t stand in the way.No problem. . it was like the world. as a matter of fact. but the sun came out in rays like God appeared in “Quo Vadis”. I am. She looked great. all golden and pouring down like honey as Leonard Cohen would say. What’s going on? I was so elated that I could not stop smiling. and touched my arm gently.Well. I had forgotten their power. the universe. looking straight into my eyes. Her manner of approach was not very varied. This is what was meant to happen. soothing.See you then! She was gone. interesting and interested. A joke… What a joke. Her smile hit me again. Linda said as she sat down next to me. . Here it was! It was late.Well. Her sunglasses were on the top of her head. Yet here she was. I felt so incredibly strong. not really. Let’s not be cynical and self deprecating.was too shocked to answer anything at all. Her eyes were made of cool green. “What time is it?”. I knew I had bought it for a reason. I’ll be here! She got up. with no shirt collar underneath. . everything fell into place. Now is the time to enjoy things. as I pulled out “Moderato Cantabile” from my bag. lugging that huge bag. and finally managed to look at her openly and with some kind of presence. Are you free tonight? Suddenly. I turned around. intelligent.Five o’clock. soft. It was as if all these images and memories from my past were coming back to help me understand the
. Are you a regular here? . I have to meet someone for work now. She laughed. Life is really starting now. but if you didn’t mind waiting for me for about…huh…an hour and a half.I’ll tell you what.No. I laughed. maybe you and I could have dinner together and pursue our various conversations of the other day! .
Oh my God! It’s over already! Linda was right. but I wanted to be as present as possible if and when she came back. like everything else is good in small quantities. Alcohol. I was happy to see that all and all. I should know. I won’t disappoint you. I liked it. But what if. It was torture stopping myself from looking at my watch constantly. It was not 70mm Scope or anything. so you could always blame yourself for not getting something that everybody who was anybody should be getting just fine. nothing happens! And they were able to make a movie out of it. but no one can really explain to you what they are. and if she was. but it won a major award. and full of hidden meaning that was never uncovered.present. 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. 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. God. Some directors specialize in films that are supposed to have all kinds of meanings. I guess that’s possible. The narrative was ominous. I’ll make the best of it!
Chapter Four It was so incredibly hard to keep my mind on the book. I was stuck here in this café which was probably going to close soon. that woman is obscure. dead wrong. I concentrated on the reviews that fill the end of the book. I had liked and assimilated the book better than a lot of the quoted critics. and tried very hard not to think for a while. what if Alison was just a con artist and in Marie she had found a soul mate? What if I was really the intruder and did not know it? What if Linda was only using me as bait. waiting for this unknown person and who knows if she was going to come back. in some strange way. Not everything should be explainable anyway. I said to the preciousness of the moment. to think that one could replace the other. I was being so literary and self assured all of a sudden! After all. What kind of TV program these days would concern itself with something like this? Oh. but our familiarity with pain makes us have to give up
. I wonder why Linda was reading it.
everything. Everything seemed to come very easily around her. getting slightly crazy. and she seems to like me enough to go to a movie with me. Where should we go? Should I drive? Do I have cash? Ooops! Yes. Should I prepare for good things. and the people were walking out of the Bon Marche with bags and packages of all kinds. It may seem like a long time now. heh? How do you like it? She did not seem surprised that I had the book. money and fame. The brick wall was in place. Then the voice of my mother: nothing will ever be great for you. suddenly she was back. forget it. I’m sure. not thirsty. automatic teller stops are never very glamorous. everyone is all of a sudden always younger than you. Ah. How old is she? I wonder…Younger than me. But when you get to be forty.I was curious to read what you were reading. so I don’t have to wonder anymore. I was starting to feel a little bored. but it will be nothing but a nanosecond when she’s here! Besides. She smiled as if she understood. what does one do? Light a cigarette. because we cannot control our intake of anything that feels slightly better than excruciating. I was rambling on and on. ten if you really nurse it. nothing ever works for us. and should be saved for outings with people you trust. But maybe I was prejudiced in favor of it. that’s how long it takes. It suddenly became easy not to pretend. 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. she’s beautiful. Marguerite Duras was over and done with. should I prepare for bad things? Just take the bet that everything will be great. We’ve all got bad luck. It’s OK. and I was careful to pay right away. and then. I was not hungry. especially in love. and ask me to dinner out of the blue. I did not hate it. with battlements and all. Five minutes. The pigeons seemed to have calmed down. just in case I had to leave fast. 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. Somehow.
. Here’s the waiter. before I even had the time to really worry… .“Moderato Cantabile”. Linda is coming back soon. ready to guard me against fantasizing about tonight. What could her last name be? I’ll ask tonight. .
. Her face was soft and gentle. Pastis . the liquor of oblivion. all of a sudden. She was sitting on her haunches. Pastis . diluted in water is refreshing. nothing. I think I’ll have a Pastis. for the first time since we had met. and how she looked that evening in Yosemite in the setting sun. The coolest thing was to drink it straight up.What’s going on? I lied. feel somewhat connected. Her laugh was devoid of any kind of mockery or ridicule. I did not feel like going anywhere without having some time to get acquainted again.It is still early. I had something to lose. I had looked at her. and just gave you this great feeling of having said something unforgettable. This woman loves me and I love her. and we reviewed the real medicinal properties of a horrible Italian concoction named Fernet-Branca. I had thought. The thought of going now seemed impossible to me. the bastard sons of absinth. 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. . Linda was looking at me in a strange way. light. . Tailor made. but this was different.. I felt shy. I was far from hungry.
. Linda ordered some kind of traditional aperitif like Lilet. She heartily agreed and we went inside. but never explained by schoolteachers.Oh. and you can make it just the right strength. It used to be in vogue. We needed something to link us together. at some point during my adolescence. Linda laughed. without water or ice. We had done pretty well going to the movies. This is life. made from various plants including artichokes. I offered. listening to the park ranger and laughing at something. the liquor of Verlaine and Rimbaud whose relationship was always alluded to. and we had a nice conversation about these drinks. Ricard or Pernod.
The setting sun was bathing the café with golden light. Alison…Alison. looking very tan in the reflection of the…how do they call it…Alpenglow…Ah! Stop that. I was nervous. before we could face the trivial task of walking or driving to a restaurant. We have a real chance at creating a relationship that will last and make us happy.Where shall we go? It was early still. and I remember forcing myself to like it.
daring and devastatingly original. smiling. describing it all with great hand gestures. I said. We were laughing when the waiter arrived. as far as I knew. and I had nothing on her. Yet. She was looking up. Her hands were beautiful. and we cheerfully toasted to new friends. Linda said as if to apologize for her absence. tell me more about yourself…
. at least in my thoughts. 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. everything seemed to amuse her as if it was still part of a long vacation. and one silver ring on the right hand. and tasted like what Pinochet gives to subversives to make them talk. “As the room is softly fading. Work was not really work. It felt great to watch her do that. The conversation went on about her work and what it was like. I tried to make an effort in an attempt to solve some of my riddles. and she kept pushing it back. . saying I really wanted you but I let it go by? Once more. we would be caught looking back at those happy highways where we could never come again. trimmed nails. poems. because it was strange and nothing affected you as much as it did at home. everything was always new and exciting. a strand of her hair kept falling into her right eye.So.It looked like mud. I can only kiss your shadow. with long. I worked for ten hours in a row. Songs. Alison was home. Everything was just fine. where is home now? Linda was explaining something.I was so busy yesterday. She seemed to know a lot about France and yet. It was getting dark. but they still had not turned on the lights in the café. thin fingers. and still live a perfectly happy life. I thought of that Paul Simon song that I liked so much. I said she could never have a Fernet ever. Linda said she had always dreamt of tasting it. I was letting myself stare at her. I remember feeling that way about California for the longest time. I’m glad I had some time today. The basic idea was that this was all for friendship. or will she send me a note ten years from now. Home…I guess California was home to me now. Hell. . I was amazed at the effect she had on me. I cannot feel your hand… ” Linda had something on me. In the open. she had mentioned a boyfriend and nothing else. She knew enough about me to know that I could possibly be interested in her. I was decidedly in a literary vein tonight.
Both her parents were still alive. not at all. I just like all these legends and stories. and her last name was Christoforos. patron saint of transportation. As I was telling her everything I could think of. I don’t know…Your background…All the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. One more trait that did not go over too well with Alison…Don’t be like her.What do you mean? Ouch! Stand still as the rock of Gibraltar. There’s also Catholic school and all the stories about nuns.Ruthie was writing a book on lesbian etiquette. Christopher. Take a couple of steps. but that I would do it for her sake. as if anything we shared
. but I didn’t go. On and on we went. as in St. We agreed on the Brasserie at La Closerie des Lilas. That’s the fun part. I’m not a power seducer. third generation American. She did seem to be enjoying herself however…I took a step backwards… . give me some clue… . We paid and got up. so I have none to tell. The story of my family had never sounded so special or interesting before now. We kept on comparing what was different and what we had in common. as my father had passed away a few years earlier. the information seemed incredibly superficial and useless. to meet me halfway.You know what that means? It means the one who carries Christ. I only had my mother. I felt better than I had in years about them. So. I learned bits of trivia about her. and religions are full of them. where they came from.Are you religious? Like Catholic or something? . and this had to be in it under the heading “Cowardly approaches in the Nineties”.Oh. as she asked me about my parents. and the drinks were giving us a nice buzz so we decided it was time to go to dinner. an old traditional Montparnasse restaurant. I did however appreciate hearing that her father was of Greek origin.No. I need the other person to be a part of it too. It did not really matter to us whose family had money. Linda. and she learned some about me. I told her I was reluctant to move the car from my once in a lifetime parking place at the Carrefour Croix Rouge. where we went to school. oh no. For some reason at first. but still matters when you don’t know anything about someone. . Hell. Sorry. who is supposed to have carried the infant Jesus across the water… She looked at me with great suspicion… . and all that.
It meant “Your love is a waste of time. the one that was beyond looks. as if we were saving ourselves for later. She looked just fine. I could feel how much we loved and appreciated each other. but that love like ours was a rare commodity and should be taken care of like a rare and precious orchid. I shall love who loves me. 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. She would shut me up. staring at me softly with no fear. as if my conversation was always a great burden to her. Can you read
. because they don’t already know me like you do”. The thought of Alison came to my mind again. history. we were laughing at everything. Getting to the car. and if it is not you it won’t be you. the mahogany and green. and I would go home feeling powerless. I would reply that I could go either way. We had the evening ahead of us. It seemed that to her.contributed to bring us closer. or “I won’t”. because something very basic had already been worked out for us. our history was like a curse. I had no history with Linda. starting it and driving away happened without either of us noticing anything. as we were walking into the Closerie. whom I love more. age or status that was attracting me like a magnet. But shame and its unimaginative cronies addiction and routine. yet none of it meant anything to her. The level of our conversation was still quite basic. unable and unwilling to change and create new possibilities? We can do anything if we learn to notice and appreciate our gift for happiness. always seem to win out. and the times when we did things together after Marie had left her. and the best was yet to come. and sensing the great void in all of us that says: “I can’t”. my expectations were at the same time high and nonexistent. and life was incredibly simple and thrilling. the presence of dead poets and soon to be executed lobsters. Maybe she should look into consciously fighting her addictive tendencies since they made her unhappy. Alison. our familiarity the kiss of death. in the soft embrace of the piano bar. It says “I want everything you have to offer so I can use it to help me be with somebody else. and will never lead to anything”. “I have an addictive personality” she would say. convention. 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. and I knew it was the beauty from inside.
Linda was looking at the menu. . I was trying to overhear their conversation. and were given a very nice table on the verandah. Finally. but with a desperate sigh. but a regular if expensive commodity here. Yet this time. even though we had nothing to really celebrate. but it was not easy as Linda (Lindy?) was facing the other way.it too? Or are you like Alison blind as a bat. champagne to “celebrate” as we both said. We decided on oysters on the half shell. and Linda turned back to me smiling. far enough from the lobster tank that we did not have to feel like Nazis on a rampage. salads. and confined in your preordained definition of what life is supposed to bring you? Chapter Five We were lucky. looking into the faces of the soon-to-be-eaten.What’s happening? I asked. Then they can talk about the manufacture of safety pins and it would still be erotic. and he was talking directly to me. the pianist was playing “Crazy”. Alison used to lapse into small talk diatribes in order to avoid reality. which means that they serve cocktails and somebody plays “As Time Goes By” on a grand piano at least twice a night. The Closerie des Lilas is what the French used to call an American Bar. a few aging Hollywood stars and the political career of Shirley Temple. Linda looked gorgeous and suave as she turned around to greet someone. a great luxury in California. . Romance was designed by God to give life to the ordinary. Next thing I know. made bold by the waiter opening our bottle of champagne. and I had developed an aversion to them. a song I could definitely identify with. The piano in the background was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. he said au revoir. and we are both going to leave and say goodnight. Small talk is only acceptable when both people are aware that they are madly in love with each other.Lindy! Where the hell have you been? Pierre looked like a typical French businessman on a drunken night out.
. as if things were getting a little hard to handle. he is going to play “Is That All There Is”. for all of us who can’t afford to watch the sunset on the Piazza San Marco from a gondola in Venice every evening. after discussing the weather.Pierre! I didn’t know they allowed you in here! .
.You know. So it was all coming out with a certain amount of sarcasm. and I don’t usually introduce myself as Lindy to strangers. that’s how friends call me.What do you mean Lindy? I said. I was puzzled at myself. I like it better than Linda Louise.Here’s to the weirdness of life. it sort of hurt my feelings. . you know. but when you said “that’s how my friends call me”. and secondly she had seemed so secretive about what had just gone on with Pierre. Come clean. . and why was the possibility of something romantic between us such a sudden and essential part of my well being. and I felt I was being intrusive with no right to be. . designed to get what I wanted without being honest about it. which did include a little bit of anxiety. that’s Pierre. and had not even introduced me to him. come clean. I also hated myself for being so interested in circumstances that had nothing to do with me.. knowing what I already knew about her? To the weirdness of life indeed…She went on without any further prompting.So what’s going on? I said not giving up.Oh. Why did I have these feelings. Linda looked at me with a puzzled look.Well. that’s the only way out of this. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time.He calls you Lindy? . remembering how hard it was to keep conversations going with Alison. Also. and usually doomed to achieve the exact opposite results. I’m afraid that this conversation with Pierre has upset you and if we don’t freely talk about it right now. 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. she said. She kept looking at me as she was drinking. . I sighed and got a grip on myself. He is a friend of Julien’s. . that’s just it. and that look set everything back on track for me. My curiosity was somehow betraying my ulterior motives. it’s funny. . 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. even though you and I can hardly call each other friends at this point in time.Yes. I don’t happen to know you very well.
You seem to have little respect for all this lesbian drama… . and beautiful. It always seemed to me that they were designed to avoid any kind of truth that might require genuine tact. Linda seemed to detect some homophobia in my discourse. as usual. and especially why they did it. Lord Peter Whimsey is trying to find clues. so he can help. and he mentioned that he had talked about me with him yesterday. .I guess I am still angry at them. whether it is romantic or not. and delicate handling. It felt as if she was already dead. as if anything he had to say would hurt me.. as if there was no connection between me and Julien anymore other than acquaintance. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…There is a dead body in the janitorial closet. because her vision was too narrow to allow any hope for happiness or any kind of life for that matter. Still. It gives me a strange feeling of wandering around the Twilight Zone. encouragement and commitment to truth in order to create something real. Don’t. . . But they don’t want the case solved. or worse. please don’t ignore his questions or he will never solve the case. and he did not seem to think that I might have liked some acknowledgement of my own predicament involving his best friend. solid. care. was she? . his own problems with his girlfriend. I feel that they betrayed me by being crude.She was when she would start saying that she had no free will and that Marie was somehow pulling her strings even though she made her feel miserable. She would suddenly see everything in a light that was terrifying to both of us. every Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers fan will agree that the real payoff comes when you find out who did it. I shared some of these thoughts with Linda.But Alison was not boring. he did not say anything more about it. as well as some anecdotes involving “gaslighting” (as in the Hollywood classic “Gaslight”) as a common pastime in the lesbian community. He just talked about himself.The strange part is that Pierre said nothing.But were there ever times when things were good?
. and he did not want to touch it with a ten foot pole. I feel that we all need each other’s help. manipulative. He sees Julien all the time. like Alison’s glassy eyed forays into unreality. just removed. It all sounded so familiar. But. superficial and boring.
I described my joy at seeing her. I guess love between women has the capacity to open doors that some people think should have been kept shut. she could be a hedonist. Alison. that of the soul within. was sometimes willing to go all the way through those doors. She did have a gift for happiness. beyond conventions. . She was not eating but was swallowing hard. passion. the food arrived. For some reason. wonderful madness. and full of questions. could fuel the present with spirit. generous and seemingly invincible. looked at me like she understood what I understood and that was what linked us together. incredibly sweet and exhilarating as if nothing could possibly ever go wrong in any of our lives ever. Linda was staring at me intensely. she said. passionate and elegant at the same time. leaning her head to the side. always mysterious. and the conversation and the evening took on a different turn. Everything became magical. Sexually. as if the memory of past loves.You know. a daring lover with the ability to let go and be womanly. and her voice was getting so low I was terrified that I was not going to be able to hear what she had to say. before Marie. I can’t say I did not like it. vulnerable. I stopped talking.How was it? Time had suspended itself beyond surprise. I felt very free to tell Linda about Alison in very intimate terms. she became soft.It was hurried. mainly marijuana. and maybe this is why wine was invented after all. and was interested in everything. if they were good and true. in whole.Does it worry you that you liked it?
. pure. Alison was often languid. . emotionally unleashed. . though… . I’ve slept with women before…She smiled. the way her face would light up with youthful energy. about Alison’s good sides from our past. with a touch of sadness to keep the momentary pleasures in perspective. and an endless belief in the goodness of this world. she had a tendency to indulge in artificial stimulants as Woody Allen says in “Annie Hall”. unemotional. I told her about Yosemite.It was not like what you are describing…She was shaking her head softly. and came out of it all sweet. with unbelievable beauty.As she said that. But when she was herself and connected. My heart started pounding again like it hadn’t since the day at the Babylone. . the strength that I felt from our connection when it was there.
After all. It was a little sad. I guess…It’s almost as if it was very powerful.
. which had not in any way altered our reality. She talked to me as if we were mere acquaintances. especially since she made it all seem like it had been only a weird. this and that. but I was more involved with the other one. We had finished our food. and I was kind of happy to see her. it was in her past and not in her present. You need to be by yourself for a while anyway”. . and reconcile me with the idea of opening up to relationships in a grand way. It was wild. Her name was Lisa. 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. . Sometimes any conversation that was not superficial and flat made her feel pressured. and accepting her journey into absence and denial. You know. disturbing dream. we were afraid to cross a certain threshold.Oh. .. Somehow. I guess we did our best to communicate in a meaningful way! We stayed together at a friend’s apartment in Santa Monica for a full week. but she seemed to have forgotten them all. There was no music playing anymore. She was with some guy. plays. . but we were both trying to ignore that power. I met her at a seminar I was taking in Los Angeles in communication. I was not with anyone at the time.How many women did you sleep with? I tried to maintain a matter of fact tone. movies. and started working for a TV station there. if she doesn’t grab this occasion to give you something. because she was getting married the next week. and we kept talking about men we liked and what we did with them. I ran into her at a party.A little bit. two. I had to navigate very carefully between soliciting a reaction.I went back to New York.Have you ever thought of doing it again? Part of me knew for a fact that this encounter was going to change my life. with a very loud laugh. forget the whole thing. and all that. The first one only once. to hide my fear of vulnerability.What happened after that? . The champagne was almost gone. Another part of me said: “If she doesn’t say – not until now -. She told me that she hoped I was happy. I was threading on thin ice. and I just went on my merry way. I tried to agitate some memories. I crossed my fingers she would not just shut off like Alison used to when she felt pressured.
Of course. A bad sign. I got it. Not in the circus. but also how disappointed I was that Linda had not made any kind of approach. and say: “Hey”. maybe I don’t either! I said. Back off. you know. She said it always bothered her. Maybe if I was Marie. I realized how hurt I still was about Alison. The truth is I don’t know what love feels like anymore… . and ended up with this oh so very cool and glamorous fashion model named Sonja. I thought. until she finally gave in and kissed me. I have been very absorbed with Julien for the past two years. That would have been a lie. Give me something. he had decided to cross over to the other side.Well not really. OK. Finally. and in the prairie. give me a break this time. she said. Knock on wood. We remain good friends and semi in love like I am with my first lover Angela. But I wanted my wild horses free.I am sorry it ended like it did. I would like him to come back so I could say no. We had a good life that fit in perfectly with the lives of everyone around us.I don’t know. and we dedicated the rest of the champagne to our common bewilderment.
. Julien was a good guy. The tamer and the tamed. and he was always talking to her about movie stars he had met. The piano started playing again a song I did not recognize. where all the glitter masks captivity and pain. It seemed from what I was hearing that the good times were few and far between. Lindy. He was a journalist of some kind. . and plant my face in front of hers. It must have been rough on you. and how attractive they were.Well.Would you want to get back with him? . . but very self involved. Linda’s eyes were filling up. as in reality it was seldom like that. This says it all. and how the grass was always greener on the other side. She went on talking about herself and Julien. and very attracted to women with a strong sense of image. back off. loud and clear. But I am probably kidding myself. .She took her time to answer. Come on fate. with women it is different. I could look at her in a deep meaningful way loaded with sexual vibes. I could not say: believe me Lindy. because he kept saying how he could not make a commitment to her. I tried to undo any possible hex by discreetly touching the wood under our table. I guess. I can’t really honestly say that I was deliriously happy when I was with him. He did not seem to have had any problem making a commitment to Sonja.
Maybe she did not get too much of a chance to talk to anyone about personal things. I felt betrayed and cheated. I drove straight into the narrow passage. how forward can I be. She came back upstairs.I was never sure that I wanted to get back with Alison. and a code keypad to keep the burglars out.It is very nice. and we were ready to go outside. so back into hell I went. I looked around the Closerie while she went downstairs to the bathroom. and I wanted to make something good out of our relationship. just to be
. like a good antique. I knew I wanted to get out of the hell I had been in when she was with Marie. but my friend refuses to give it to me… I was sitting at the wheel. and you have to live with your impression after that. Sometimes. and I thought it was worth all the suffering and tomorrow’s probable reversal. . smiling and looking around too. I’d give anything to own it. Never had it looked so glamorous and rich. whichever way it would go. Don’t let it be entirely anticlimactic. was like giving in to the forces of evil. I regretted that Linda had not given me more hope. What is this going to be? What should my expectations be? What can I do. Letting myself be pulled in to something resembling love. sagging a little. to make this into a good. When the reversal finally came however. In fact she seemed to like it quite a lot. Maybe this is why she had picked up a stranger at the Babylone. People seemed to be having fun. as if we both had the same impression. Friendship on the other hand seemed to involve more intimacy than she could muster anyway. and on the way to the Rue de Nevers. where I was to drop her off. that the old café was suddenly transfigured by some yet to be understood meaning. We were silent on the way to the car. maybe unforgettable memory? I knew I had to do something. Linda and I paid and shared our bill. You have to come see it some time. Goodbyes are all important when the situation is not clear. incredibly alone and rejected. anxious about the way the evening would end. with an old doorway.Here. it was comfortable. But we had indeed established some kind of intimacy. and wished our evening had been more on the side of danger and flirtation. when we connected. this is where I live! The building looked very old. . usually for a short time. I would have done anything to make the pain stop. and she did not seem too scared of it.
It did last a lot longer than a merely polite California hug. knowing that I would do everything in my power not to lose it. and it felt good. The least I need to do. take care… Her voice became very soft. I held her tight. I got back to the car. I like the Babylone. The apartment must be facing the back…I backed out of the alley. . our deepest emotions and fears were challenged to
.Talk to you soon. good night. I went home thinking about how when the mere possibility of love came around. honest. As the door opened. and stared until I knew which windows would light up on the face of the building. She went to the door. . dead in its tracks. fished the key out of her giant purse. and give me yours too. as if I had cheated myself on something. it was just a hug. This was a lot of fun. We have to do it again. . is get her phone number this time. 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. and headed for home. she turned to me and said: . she said. None did. I wrote hers on a loose piece of paper that I had. I felt empty and incomplete. so I can get in touch with you without hanging out at the Babylone every day? -Oh yes. I did too. but all the same. walking around the car to find myself next to her in the final moment. but not all that much… We exchanged phone numbers.Will you give me your phone number.Yes. California style hug. She looked at me intensely for what seemed hours. let’s! I said. she had given me enough indication that she was open to the idea… I went home thinking about Alison. and how if she had not left me I would be daydreaming about her and none of this fantasizing would be going on. . and then gave me a good.sure that wherever this was leading wasn’t going to stop right here.Well. She suddenly got out of the car. In a panic.You take care too… She was gone. I don’t know who let go first…Maybe I did.Yes. OK? .
he had designed walls and floors that were paper thin.come out and give their names openly. like a deadly addiction to something we can never have. so who cared if he cut the soundproofing budget to a minimum. How I sat there
. (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. Chapter Six It is always surprising how in Paris. honest verbal overture. or maybe it was that a choice was offered to me of how I was going to live from now on. the City of Light and Glamour. How will a straight woman ever do anything wild and different. After my dinner with Lindy. And also of course. by making some kind of a move. everything would remain the mere shadow of reality. sounded like it was all happening inside my pillow. if the lesbian in charge sits there waiting for her to take the first step? I remember hearing from Alison how her first woman lover had to literally pounce on her to make anything happen. unless they were playing basketball in their living room. At times. Everything that happened in the hallway. You could hardly hear the neighbors. But in the servants’ area. right next to my ear. hurried steps. But the brick wall had a breach. one can observe the most backward and creepy customs. with a common toilet for the whole floor. Otherwise. In my mother’s building. who could forget how Marie had come to pick her up right in front of me. It could have been great. freedom. and let in a lot of thoughts about Alison. My mother’s apartment gave at all times an impression of solid comfort and silence. and would only affect our lives negatively. This interest in another person had in a way softened me up. which were not very constructive and did not offer many openings out of the cramped corner that my life in California had become. I had a nice little room separated in the servants’ quarters. intellectual adventure you-name-it. Domestic employees were supposed to be up at dawn anyway. I felt that I had missed an occasion to create something. My feelings about the evening with Lindy were very mixed. gossip on a background of vacuum cleaning. screams. The architect had thought it all out very well. or at least a clear. This particular problem was not helping me deal with the extreme confusion that was taking place in my head.
Yet to me. nothing was lost either.laughing at her crude approach. She would come to me when she was ready. It was not as simple as: “Forget him. Maybe it was just
. Besides. She liked to cultivate an image of me as this person who was out to smother her with favors. On the other hand. Whenever I pointed out some moment of coldness or even outright hostility on her part. she seemed to be replaying some Marie scenes. I felt that I had done the best I could by being honest and yet not pushing her into anything. let’s get on with some real fun. and told me so! What an interesting dilemma. of all places. if not always clear. as Lindy obviously seemed more interested in Julien than in me. So far. There was some history that I had to contend with. not realizing of course that this was exactly what my sophisticated lover was dying for. unconsciously casting me in the role of the weaker element. however. with somebody else. then if nothing was gained. Paris had always seemed closed and oppressive. It was the city of tolerance where Vita Sackville-West used to take Violet on outrageous jaunts. and how unexpected…In Paris. until she finally would have to give in. and swear to be with me forever. 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. Paris. If she did not. Pouncing just did not seem as exciting to me as responding to something hidden. she would claim that she was distant because she did not want to get my hopes up about us getting back together. as long as I kept the messages true. In fact. even if she knew what could happen between us. and where Natalie Barney would hold her court in total openness and freedom. but definitely mutual. life is too short to stop yourself from doing what you want even if it is only for the moment!”. she had already done the infamous deed. Alison liked to think that my affection for her was nothing but an abject expression of my addictive tendencies. A whole year and a half with Marie did not seem to have helped develop her imagination nor her selfesteem. Maybe it was time to make things happen in a different way. Other times. it looked like I possibly could encounter the same problems. she had sought me out. and made a point of showing me that I was always the last thing on her mind…How could she not treasure what we had and want to preserve it in spite of the Marie interruption which might have been a good thing in the end. the city where so many had come to help their real lives unfold.
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. I wondered if Lindy had one in her borrowed apartment…Well. this is Linda. husky. All right. more movies. without much success.because I was from there and not from Oakland where there is no there… I started waiting for her to call me. All right! I had never really noticed the tone of her voice…Soft. and leave it on the machine. Go ahead. I cannot come to the phone right now. still nothing. If you don’t play. Lindy Christoforos. tsk. Ruthie. various museums and sightseeing adventures that I would live on my own. you have nothing to lose. as I had in California. but if you would like to leave a message
. lay off. lonely person who picked up strangers for no reason…But we had reached the weekend. straight woman in tennis shoes. American in Paris. and messages on them are like the modern version of telegrams in the old days. all right. Ruthie says: you might not win. after our dinner. imagining that I was with Alison or Lindy. No such luck. I’m going to do it. saying only as much as was safe to say. talking to them. Here it was…An answering machine. I was dialing her number. and she hadn’t called. you are sure not to win! Do it! It’s only a telephone call for God’s sake… Before I knew it. I felt discouraged. Have a good time. I kept myself busy. and distract yourself form all this trouble with Alison. hoping to accidentally run into Lindy. and started applying my methods for not thinking. there is only one way to find out. choosing dark corners where we could kiss and increase the excitement of the excursion. seeing friends and family. These devices are great. Sunday came and went. OK? But what if I get hurt…She’ll be back with Julien. and every morning when my phone rang I was always hoping it was going to be her. yet totally unaffected. or maybe she’ll be with somebody new…Tsk. but it’s like the Lottery. One can leave little concise masterpieces that say not too much. You could prepare your message in your head. The days went by. Driving past the Rue de Nevers was especially difficult as I would crane my neck. as Parisian drivers don’t take kindly to unexplained slowing down. and leave a lot to the imagination. 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 I almost had a couple of accidents. A bonanza for shy people. “Hello.
and that there was none to waste. Once more. I was cursing my life and the stupid situation I had gotten myself into. as she repeated the last part in French. It would be a waste. Please call me”. she got tempted and then became scared when things got too close to really happening. I had not asked to start this. “après le bip sonore”. Two days later. If she claimed not to be interested. Hopefully. if you want to do something…Do something? What? How silly. Waiting for phone
. please do so after the beep”. My phone number is blah blah blah…” I said. I hope everything is OK. and to not give in to disguises. I hung up. well I just had to go with that. And at least. and eager to leave it so I did not have to wait for the phone call. but she was the one who asked to go to the movie with me. Maybe there was a way I could talk about this openly with Lindy. cover ups and rationalizations. I found myself dialing her number again. “I think we should talk about things a little more. reluctant to leave my room. and at least play the game with all cards on the table. She had picked me up. she is just like Alison. Oh well. Second. but there was nothing I could do about it. Again. And why would anyone do this? She does not get anything out of it. Why can’t people stick to their original ideas? Maybe. I said. or some other ethereal and fragile entity within my system. I had to keep in mind that my time here was limited. It sure made the bad part much more palatable. we’ll see. The thought was infuriating me. attractive voice she had. First. Why can’t people just start living? I could remember myself as an adolescent. I find someone who might be able to help me forget Alison. things became more manageable. Becoming a sexual deviant was not so painful if you let yourself enjoy the good part. I left my message in English. I had come back to the café all right. the machine answered.for me or Igor Metzguev who is now away till the end of October. then to dinner. and leave it to fate. and I don’t get anything out of it. there was no other word for it. No call the next day either. and tucked her cold feet back in. and is leading me on or toying with my mind or my heart. “Hope to hear from you soon. 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. just like Alison. and later with Angela. I would have saved myself the humiliation of pouncing only to be turned down. What an exotic. I was going crazy. I had learned something since then: the hard part is to know what you really feel. Please call me in the mornings. Once you had mastered step one.
but after all she was not French. Dream on.Well. Saturday as in tomorrow.Why don’t you come and meet me at the apartment? . But things could be arranged… . adding that I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. and that was it. are you kidding? This is great. I slept with great difficulty. early in the morning. Would you like to get together again? It would be great to talk… . that there was no more hope. I knew all about it from my last days in the music business. dreams of rejection. the phone rang while I was still half asleep. We hung up.No.Sorry…I’m glad I thought of giving it to you again.
. deciding at times. Where shall we meet? I was sure she was going to say the Babylone. of the unreality that sometimes seeps from real life into our dreams.Great! I’ll be there! What time? We decided on seven. . I was wondering if we could get together on Saturday night… I had plans with Francoise and her husband. How are you? . we’ll call you. reality begins to follow our wildest fantasies…This is when things become really fun. Don’t call us.Yes. just for old time’s sake. of disconnection. if she does not want me. ha. It is the daily grind of the betrayed.I would love to.calls has to be one of the most horrible things in life. especially now that I have your phone number again. She did not seem afraid or disturbed.Fine. she does not want me. she was ahead of me and surprised me. Right. A little early for a French date. It was Lindy. and we talked a little bit longer about how busy she was at work and how idle I was for the time being.You mean tomorrow? . Sometimes. and you are not listed. with a lot of Alison dreams. . I somehow had misplaced the piece of paper it was on. Then. I kept myself busy all day again. “Hi! Is this too early to call? Did I wake you up?” . Once more. “Same here” she said very sweetly. She does not know what she’s missing. Well. I enthusiastically agreed. ha. I said goodbye. .
it was much more fun to go there. seemed to have slowed down to intergalactic time. and that it was very seldom the other way around. In my mind. There were other people in the world who could give her joy and excitement. I called Francoise to reschedule our plans for the next day. It always struck me as unfair that I always liked to go and visit other people. Even my little room was an extension of my mother’s apartment and as we know. The real conversation was going on in my head about what I was going to tell Lindy tonight. How was I going to spend the day. Besides. as a lover as well…I was certainly willing to give it a try… Chapter Seven I woke up in the usual racket. a French one with a lot of style and very little substance. I had lunch with some friends from high school. After lunch. I felt that other people. after a sleepless night. had much cleaner. to not be too impatient about the evening? It was all set with my mother. She was very excited and made me promise to tell her everything about my second evening with Lindy. if she was going to give me the break that Alison would not give me: The feeling of being valued and appreciated. less ready to abide by the dynamics laid out by Julien which said that her role was to be sad and abandoned. or I would be going back to hell in California without having gone through to the end of this. I decided not to
. trying very hard to concentrate on a conversation. and we went home in the always hellish traffic. I knew something had to be done and that the situation had to evolve fast. The nickname just sounded so much better and more adventurous somehow. I took my mother with me to see a movie. nicer houses…I did not really have a home of my own in Paris nowadays. The clocks once more. extremely noisy. I was definitely applying for the job of being one of them. as a friend. Neither of us really liked it.I was ecstatic about the idea that I was going to see where she lived. I did like it when people came to visit me in California. but it had taken years of getting used to having my own house and being able to clean it every once in a while. it gave her a more assertive attitude. and the stigma had stayed with me. I think it might have been because I always felt better outside of my home when I grew up. I was going to have the car. and inviting her was out of the question. threatening to rain. normal people. and who knows. The weather was overcast.
She answered. . . Here we go.Yes. feeling much better.Hi! I totally forgot about the code and all that. maybe there is some truth to the lucky in love. and left in the still crowded evening. the carrier of Christ. 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. there is Lindy Christoforos. and leave everything to the moment.Lindy? . waiting for me. As I drove. I did my best to free my mind of all expectations and concentrate on living in the present. Sorry… She hugged me. I decided to cross the bridge. I had the piece of paper with her phone number. unlucky in parking saying after all. but I did not want to aggravate Lindy for stupid reasons like being really late. and finally found a place on the other bank. and searched the side streets to no avail. life was beginning to make sense again. and tried to open it. Fortunately. I could be fashionably late. At the end of this drive. and told me it was on the fifth floor. which was definitely worth checking out. and started going up the ancient staircase. and did not know where the apartment was. It felt and I felt a little bit slanted. Oh. The most difficult task ever undertaken by mankind. Smiling. It was almost a quarter past seven. left. as I went into the apartment. think of the time it will take to find a parking place! I said goodnight to my mother. It was locked. Everything was all right. she said without questioning my use of the nickname. She looked
.Allo? . I realized I did not have the code. I needed to get to a phone and call her. I walked out of the Rue de Nevers into a café. I punched in the code. Oh my God! Six thirty! I’d better leave now. I walked back. It was beginning to drizzle as I walked back across the bridge. Seven twenty five. and had to back up because there was not a single parking place. I cultivated my anger at Alison. She gave me the code. She was on the last floor. I arrived at her door. I had to make change and go downstairs to call. Is that you? I described my predicament. as a means of stopping myself from having too many expectations about Lindy.rehearse my upcoming encounter with Lindy. she sounded very sweet. an almost Greek woman with a French exboyfriend. welcoming.
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.
that the key to all this is the same. it depends. Yet she hangs on. If one were to describe her relationship with Marie as a man and a woman. I am curious… Touche! I took a swig of wine. I think gay women are so screwed up. both parties have to agree. you’re right! But for some reason. . Somehow. the world and everything else.I’m not so sure that the straight world has gone beyond that at all… . 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. side by side. Do you really want to know? She laughed… . cuz he’s such a guy…Surabaya Johnny…I’m putty in your hands. like you know. I poured us some more wine. gay or straight. a tough biker type with tattoos. Yet the payoff when it happens makes it all worthwhile.You’re right…Of course. I felt very close to Lindy. trying to stay relatively cool. one to hate. At that moment. . and the other ones to hate themselves in response.. and talking about ourselves. why do gay women think this is attractive behavior? Why do they like sex to be so objectified. I didn’t care. This Alison thing has made me question everything. and I agreed with her. that kind of thing…very twenties somehow. it would sound so horrible and abusive. I saw myself as a bitter curmudgeon. and the conversation moved on to easier grounds. The straight world has gone beyond that. and some we could never read no matter what desert island we were on. sipping some old cognac. I still think gay women should be above all this. Brahmin or Untouchable.You don’t have to tell me! Obviously however. I was not above any of the behaviors I was criticizing.Oh well. when they have the means to make magic? Why are they trying to be so tough and flirtatious. We sat on the couch. some that we had never read but wished we had. and found some books in French and English that we had read. so exclusive and unreal? . After dinner. really. full of resentments and judgments about
. Don’t you think? Lindy was walking on eggs trying not to be offensive. that I would have been better off straight. and the broad he likes to make fun of and drive crazy with jealousy. Compared to her. we checked out Igor’s bookcase. I said.Sometimes.It sounds to me. Pariahs seem to me to be the result of a tacit agreement between the oppressor and the oppressed.
in our review of the world and the past. as it had a few times before. as if the nervousness of our first encounters at least on my part was gone. prophecies. like relationships and other hellish endeavors. evaluating he changes in my mood. She seemed kind. .Now my mind seems empty. 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. for whatever reason. even though I would be at a loss to explain why. quite peaceful.everything and everyone. animated by a natural love and enjoyment of all the nice things in life. empty glass in hand:
. .Oh God! It’s so incredibly late! I am keeping you up. I could hear her breathe. The magical courage came back to me. whom in my moment of passivity I expected to pick up the reins and lead me back to sanity. Whatever tape she had been playing had run out. as if some new understanding was dawning on us as we were discovering each other.What are you thinking? She asked as I was staring into space. I was amazed at my own fear and cowardice. There was less of a tremulous impatience and intrusive desire. protective of each other. Panic seized me.I was thinking of how.And now? . I should go. The smoke was bathing the room with some ancient. Behind her I saw a clock. Maybe this was the first real sign of love between us. from the simplest to the most difficult. As I was speaking. . and emotional release. The silences were easy. ease.It feels good. and devoid of any expectation. followed my unfortunate lead and said as she got up. We felt. There was silence in the room. and answers to the riddles of the world. so you can always enjoy that special moment. and lit an after dinner cigarette. generously. and realized to my amazement that it was past two in the morning. easily. . yet compassionate of others. .Is that good or bad? . unspeakable mystery though the orange flickering light of the candles. Every object seemed to carry its own load of deep meanings. and I could see her heart beating in the tender part of her neck. Lindy. I asked her permission. It’s strange…Like all feeling of control is gone. one of those that make you swear you will never smoke too much.
illuminating the river banks. punching the security code that was engraved in my mind forever. I’m sorry… . and she. “I’ll call you” she whispered. driving or better yet walking to the Rue de Nevers. I felt some huge wave of unreality wash over me as I walked across the bridge.Thank you.
. In Paris. I did start toward the bridge. fullest kiss one can imagine. I was putting on my jacket. without pulling back. thanks to some inner pilot who was taking over my feet. and a late night promenade boat glided by like a waterfall. I had a wonderful evening. you’re right! And tomorrow is the only Sunday where I have to get up at dawn. I had no idea where the car was. when we found ourselves involved in the softest. all was said and done. I mumbled something about helping with the dishes. Damn! I admire people who enjoy washing dishes so much…But I had to go. she opened it. climbing up the stairs out of breath. sweetest. The cathedral was still lit. and I would never leave Igor’s unbelievably idyllic bohemian apartment. I bounced out into the cold night. The courage came back: I had the nerve to look straight into her eyes. I would constantly wake up. gathering my things. and leave her cheek right there. and had very little tolerance for the obligations of those who did work…Why did she have to get up early tomorrow of all days? The sneaky impatience was coming back. and imaging myself getting up. We are shooting some location footage for the archives. bright as day.No. When we finally pulled apart after quite a while. embraced in a final hug. Oh. Instead. 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. my heart was pounding away. against mine. Chapter Eight The idea of sleep was now foreign to me. that she actually enjoyed washing dishes. along with the frustration of not knowing what I was doing. We both laughed.Aie! Goodness. she had the nerve to give me a hug. We were both rewarded for our courage.. and Lindy looked flushed and out of breath. and knocking on Lindy’s door…She would be awaiting me. and turned around to say goodbye… . and I have to be there. its searchlights on. and disappearing around the bend in a crown of light beams. dream like…like life itself. I am sorry to keep you up so late. We walked to the door together. but she said she would take care of it all. I did not work.
if you don’t know what I mean.Now? She sounded as if she was joking.Yes. saw and heard nothing. You remember the code? . I knew. She knew. it felt like a dream. well that will be a sign… Her voice on the line…With a French intonation…”Allo?” .Come only if you want to. and it all seems like an everyday occurrence… . how are you? . My only comfort was to walk.I was hoping it was you in person too. I saw some friends. Hi! I was hoping it was you… . You are flying through a cloud chatting with Julius Caesar. My attention was hanging by a thread…I was not listening to any conversations.What do you mean? I felt like a traitor. Why was I still hiding and pretending? Lindy burst out laughing. drank nothing. but there was also a nervous tone to her voice that was unmistakable.Lindy? .It took three nights…Three nights of agitation and daydreams. . but my connection with them had become incredibly tenuous. The walls were oppressive like the torture chamber in the Cask of Amontillado.I think we need to help things go where they want to go… My ears were pounding with the bass drum of my heart.Well. How can this woman be like this? Does she know what she is saying? Does she really mean what she means? .Yes but… . On the third night. I had come back from some dinner party where I ate nothing. then maybe you should not come over at all! I was caught…
. Closing in… Suddenly. Again. walk everywhere. I saw myself dial Lindy’s number. I was finally in bed after having walked around the block about five times. It was half past ten. until I felt so tired that the idea of calling Lindy seemed like an impossible endeavor. If she is home. I was wondering if you could possibly come over… . but in dreams everything always seems so normal.Well.
This is OK. alone and in a state of total lack of expectations. Paris never sleeps. her beauty.
.Hey. Did I understand all of this the way it was meant to be understood? Lindy… She opened the door. I went down to the garage. She closed the door.Sometimes. right? You’re not scared or anything. I was not particularly nervous. a jacket.. shoes…I was going through the motions. and escaped into the shiny night. as the streets were varnished by the drizzle. I turned right on the bridge. and the way she gave in so easily to feelings of impending freedom. It was on a weekday. in awe of her poise. grabbed both of my wrists. and proceeded with the matter at hand without further discussion. The world never sleeps. and sat me down on the couch. there were no cops to give you parking tickets. I could never have imagined that you… . but not like a native either. . like a special favor to me. and left. and yet the streets were still crowded. wait a minute! I’m the one supposed to ask you these questions. Paris would never be the same again. There was nothing crude or trivial like the shallow oppression of the everyday city.I’ll be there! Don’t you fall asleep! She laughed again. and said “All right…” with relief. My mind was blank. started the car. The monuments on the river bank were all lit. are you? . This is what I want to do right now. I knew exactly where I was going and why. and I was ready for it. where I proceeded to park on the sidewalk. I was staring at her. directly into the Rue de Nevers. . I put on a T-shirt. In this new life. Life had just become different in the past half hour.No chance! I got out of bed and put away the childish nightgown that I always wore when I was in Paris. I regained my composure. The code…Up the stairs…I was getting a little less confident. and I was already used to it. I did not feel like a tourist anymore. You know. jeans. things get really clear for me.
while we were still together. like a connection to the secular world that had brought us together. carefully. It was late. but nobody had ever let down their hair for me like that before. through the skylights. and I knew I had been granted a privilege usually reserved to the Gods of Ancient Greece. the one who savored all that life had to offer. and desire had driven us more than thoughts of everlasting companionship. making a game of folding each item neatly. lithe and free of all the betrayals to come. 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. give and receive and enjoy it all like some spiritual homework given to us by some divine teacher. shook her head gently and let her hair down. it was thick. dawn finally won over the darkness. The ghosts of Alison and Julien were there.Suddenly. and somewhere in my mind I felt some regret for all the times that we did not make love. but smiling upon us as no ghost can stay angry in the face of tenderness. When I ran my fingers through her hair to keep it away from our faces as we kissed. Lindy and I were in a situation close to a pickup scene or one night stand. No performance anxiety or uneasiness. since sleep seemed to be entirely out of the question. Why hadn’t she simply called me first?
. Lindy reached behind her head. The bedroom was on top of a couple of wooden stairs. Sleep meant relaxing. This morning the show featured ethereal streams of translucent magenta over a sky of purple agate. We barely knew each other. the one who could share. and relaxing brought on more lovemaking. When we were done. young. heavy. and the intensity of our feelings betrayed a depth that we had not really prepared ourselves for. We seemed familiar to each other somehow. Yet there was the recognition of love. I felt I was becoming the adult I was meant to be. I had a thought for Alison. and fluid like water. Then. I could see it all from Lindy’s bed. We undressed slowly. I had never realized the power and seductiveness of such a simple gesture. I had seen it done many times in movies. Lindy and I were finally taking a break and talking. So we simply stuck to words for a while. and keeping her eyes on me. a garret with a huge skylight and a bed that took almost all the space. and the faint light of day was beginning to grace Igor’s romantic skylights. we sat on top of the bed facing each other.
I did not do a very professional job…Well thank you for bringing me back to my senses. and how you don’t seem to be feeling any fear…
. Instead. Our conversation breaks were taking an alien turn… . who was smiling at me as she was asking the question. then it will be a sign and I swear that I will do the rest of the work.To me. and were now collecting the fruit of our labor. If she calls me. .. and I will never go back. She was definitely innocent of any such crime. as usual. so to speak! I felt I had been cowardly. the I only wanted to be friends – what have you done to me – I’d rather not see you again rite of passage. and take it all the way. How we think the oddest things at the oddest moment! But I was also thinking about you. We were swimming in warm waters.I’m afraid I was thinking about Alison and Marie. pleased with herself. and without a single thought for how much it might hurt me… . nor will I wish to… . and we are gently sailing into the heart of the blue ocean. And somehow. plague that can break the most wonderful attempts at liberation. that will be it. the betrayal. but Lindy reminded me that I was the one who came back to the café to look for her. in a cocoon of softness. 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.You did.Do you ever do this…put something in the hands of fate? Think well. We were very different people from the night before. It was a crime against me and Lindy.It seems to me that we are on a sailboat. rite of shame. . I was committing a terrible crime considering the circumstances. I feel like time has stopped. if she doesn’t call me. The love that dares not speak its name…indeed…To their credit. Alison and Marie dared speak its name…at least for a little while. she seemed to enjoy it with a vengeance.What are you thinking? Ooops…I was exposed and felt disrespectful of the present moment. Nature had become our friend and the sun our brother. I guess we both had done a good day’s work. it feels like I have come home to the place that I have been wanting to visit for so long… Lindy did not seem to suffer from any fear of having converted herself to a low form of human being.
Would everybody know about this? I said I had a couple of people I was going to call and tell immediately. I was going to leave and go home as if nothing special had happened. Everybody else could stay in the dark. We sat on the couch where we had sat that first night when we had dinner. we slowly got up. or worse yet. laughter. In fact. I took a shower while Lindy was making some coffee. and I would have a normal day.Are you feeling any of these fears? . but I could not find that many at all. maybe a little smug…Well. She was laughing and we felt so strong. . what God or whoever meant for us to feel. I would go back to Lindy and we would have this most wonderful secret affair…Maybe before I had to leave. calm. None of it seemed to matter one bit.Yes now… I searched within the deep recesses of my heart. It was evident that what really counted. looking for my familiar insecurities. which superseded and sanctified everything. was this great happiness.Fear of being catalogued a lesbian forever. All I could find was a welling up of happiness. We were making plans of the greatest importance. we had an edge on the world…It seemed ridiculous that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable about being gay. Afterwards. it
. relishing the delightful weariness in our bodies. this freedom. fear that I will turn against you. and by then we had all the skills and effortlessness acquired through a long and full night together. 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. Who cared? She said she might tell Julien. The day was really here. or straight or anything. I could not find any. we could spend 48 hours together in a row.Fear of what? .. On the contrary. so indestructible. Except that I knew that when the evening came. that I will stick to you like glue and that you’ll never be able to shake me and get on with your life. 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. and the noises of the cars on the Quai were finally penetrating the reverent silence of Igor’s apartment. No evil could ever come of it. this comfort.You mean now? . Then Lindy would go to work.
call me…” I suddenly thought of the loneliness everywhere. I lightly kissed her neck just where I always saw her heart beating. The mystery had been replaced by the ordinary. It was light out. They gave you the terminal for free. out on the street. that people tried to escape from through minitel networks. illegal. you are faceless. Someone had to make a decision.was the essence of generosity. requesting that one dial 3615-ORGASM on their minitel. and then collected on your various calls and time online.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. I felt elated and shaky. and sped toward the darker western skies. My mind was full of memories of the night and expectations of nights to come. On the right side was a building under construction with a huge billboard. said the woman…I am Pamela…I am shameless. 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. 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. at the door. It showed a scantily clad woman with deep cleavage and an enticing smile. if I didn’t want my mother to think that I had disappeared with her car. Minitel was the computer network installed by the French bureau of communications. singles groups. There was a God. The car was still there. She had to go to work. the magic was lingering. Yet. pick up bars and gay bars. or a Goddess. of intelligence. “Hi. someone watching over me. and had given me the nerve to come back to her. It was time for me to go. out of place. We stayed on the landing and kissed until the temptation to go back inside became unbearable. I had to go. of imagination and the celebration of consciousness. Bravely. I had been so lucky! . who had put me on the path of this unknown woman. and next thing I knew I was racing down the old uneven steps. I backed it up to the Quai.
. with me. I was out in the light.
I usually always took the Sunday flight. the setting sun graces the river with sparkle. and proceeded to wheel my suitcase up the five flights of stairs. So this time. while it sets ablaze the windows of the Institut and glows through the glass roof of the Grand Palais. She said she would love for Diego to meet me and for us to have our first dinner as lovers. and called a cab to leave on Sunday. Rue de Nevers. I had said goodbye to everyone. But Lindy and I had made other plans. I had jumped off the train of time. Hassan smiled… -Should I take you back? Ah. It was as if we were on a beach. and we were going to get our 48 hours together. It was hot and sultry. I think Francoise and her husband were the only ones who knew of my secret plans. on Tuesday. Once more. She did not want to cancel.. with him. His beloved wife Antonia had died a couple of years before. I’m not.Are you going back home then? . I was in my home
. It was as if our souls were somehow directing our bodies into a dance around the light as it kept changing. Climbing into the taxi. Then we closed the door on the stairs. Lindy came down to help me. who lived on a barge on the river. Lindy told me she had a previous engagement with her friend Diego. I entered the code. I had packed. born in Argentina. . The bag was not too heavy. We went down to the Vert Galant to watch the golden hour descend upon the center of the city. Lindy had taken Monday off. and we quite enjoyed negotiating the narrow steps and tight corners. the streets and the city. and he and Lindy had been a comfort to each other. Diego was a painter in his mid seventies. .No.No. I could not figure out whether I had stepped into a dream or if I had finally awakened to reality. There I was. and under Igor’s skylights we made love in the bright sunshine. slow and gentle. and we were mellow. on my way back to California. Without any prompting on my part. no…thank you. not really either…I guess I’m just going away. the temptation…I smiled back. On a clear summer day. I was off to Cythera…in a taxi.No. I had told the driver to take me Rue de Nevers instead.
The deck was decorated with flowers. Diego’s barge was anchored not far from the Pont Neuf. where he was busy mixing some South American cocktail in a silver shaker. as if to protect it from being shaken by storms on the high seas. but had the looks of a converted seafaring vessel. .Welcome! I am honored that you chose to bring beauty and love under my roof. and grilled sweetbreads on a wooden board. Dinner was delicious. There were sweet and sour vegetables to soothe the heart. he said. according to him. By the door there was a crisp black and white photograph of Antonia. It had a bedroom. 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. happy. . Good for sex. posing by a dangerous looking waterfall. We were in love with each other. with candles and a bottle of wine. lounge chairs. we were in love with the world. and the world loved us back. a table was set for three. he said smiling broadly and waving us in. a living room that Diego had turned into his workshop.city. We walked along the still crowded square. and he said he had prepared food especially for us. I loved it and wanted to move in and stay forever. and cared for him as if I had known him all my life. and up to the bridge. We climbed aboard and right away. and many couples around us were holding hands or kissing. The Vert Galant is a place for lovers. yet exuded calm. Diego saw us walk in from an old fashioned bar. young. Diego was a great cook. We toasted to all of us. Every item had its place. with an exuberance of color. we also enjoyed keeping a tantalizing distance. The strangers around us seemed more interesting and friendly than usual. a green and white umbrella and a couple of small palm trees. from his mother’s ancient recipes. His paintings were abstract. He took us on a tour of the barge. to friendship and love. The door was open on an interior full of paintings.
. By the window on the river side. It was small. I laughed with him. but it had suddenly become a mysterious undiscovered place of striking beauty. The kitchen was a perfect boat’s kitchen.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.
That night. So we went to have a light lunch on the Place Dauphine. Finally. we decided it was time to take a real break and spend some time doing more mundane things together. my friend Diego..
. but could not stay apart for too long. we managed to fall asleep in each other’s arms before the skylights had a chance to turn purple with the first signs of dawn. we said goodnight to our host. 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. but we wanted to look at each other and not be in the dark. some unconscious part of us already knew what was in store. Maybe that first day at the Babylone. I had escaped with a lie. I told her I loved Diego and never wanted to lose touch with him. Lindy said she did not care who she ran into. and the names of Julien or Alison were conspicuously absent from our conversation. The next morning. so I did care. one of the most erotic tangos ever written. we woke up giddy with renewed energy.Always be good to each other. At first we thought of going to a movie. exhausted and overwhelmed. I pointed out how easy it is to lose oneself in Paris. Lindy was laughing a lot. Unfortunately. and gave us each one. to always treasure as a souvenir. and walked off into the night holding hands. as Lindy and I had not yet speculated on where we were going from here. So. sipped Argentinian style through silver straws from carved gourds. We had some coffee and some fruit. Then Diego took two Polaroid photos of us. he said. our friend and protector. we had dulce de leche. We finished the evening with yerba mate. when lunch time came around and we felt hungry for food. which at first was more about reminiscing and commenting on our last twenty four hours. and Diego and I entertained Lindy with an improvised duet of “A Media Luz”. and always be true! Diego said…there was a second of unease. For dessert. and how once you dropped out of the everyday routine the chances of running into someone you knew were quite slim. We were stunned that everything was going so well. Our lovemaking had become more sophisticated and quite intense. 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.
-You know that I love you. while the women sang and both consumed the little restaurant’s entire stock of Ouzo. Lindy’s eyes were joyful and limpid. and we were still laughing when we reached the top. and we needed a rest. and I confessed to Lindy that my legs were still a little bit shaky. As we were talking. Standing by the chimaera with the horns. The closest virgin territory was the towers of Notre Dame. nothing but cobblestones and the milky flow of the river. So we crossed to the Ile Saint Louis. She talked about her Greek family on her father’s side. The men had danced until dawn. in broad daylight and in complete consciousness. She told me she had identified with Esmeralda. flatly.
. so we would always remember it as ours. the hunchback who lived in the tower. we remembered reading the Victor Hugo novel.We decided that we wanted to discover something together. and started up the stairs. and now. Neither of us had ever been up there. We were pointing landmarks to each other. It was not very crowded up there. she was in love with me. Going down was even harder than going up. remembering incidents sometimes hilarious that had happened to us while visiting or near those places. Climbing up was surprisingly tiring. Of course I was in love with Esmeralda then. unbelievably. There was nobody there. as typically in Paris they were always under construction. I told her I had identified with Quasimodo. there was a sweet summery stillness in the air as we took in the beauty of the spot. and was almost disappointed when my mother finally found me. and sat down below the stairs. I told her I had gotten lost in the Cluny museum as a kid. I said…You know that? We had said it to each other many times in the heat of the night. They had taken over a restaurant near the Pantheon. but it was a different story to say it like that. There is something about a moving body of water that brings on a contemplative mood. and walked to the lower bank by the Pont Saint Louis. I had accepted I was going to have to live there forever. A few of them had come to Paris for a brief visit with her. and looking into them it suddenly occurred to me that the two of us might be more than a mere sexual adventure. We entered from the side. She admitted hers were too. In between the rumble of tour boats. rang the bell and saved Esmeralda from hanging. sitting out on the stone steps. and the view was sweeping and breathtaking.
. Part of me was hurt that Lindy had not said that her utmost desire was to live with me forever and ever. the cathedral and the old Pont Saint Louis. -How about…I stopped mid-sentence. We stayed silent for a while. . we did not waste any time. I caught up with her. Lindy was running ahead. Wow. Let's go home… We went back up the steps. I said. We kissed in the shadow of the stairs. hesitated for a while staring silently at the current creating little wakes around the pillars of the bridge.Now I know why you wear running shoes. you’re not afraid…you’re never afraid! She laughed. -What do you think we should do about it? -You mean other than what we’ve been doing? I asked. We were so well tuned by then. then walked briskly across the bridge. . past the bumper to bumper traffic on the Quai.She replied softly. -Nah.How about…nothing? She said it looking at me with the sweetest and most glorious smile. I could not stay in Paris.
. -Yes…I’m afraid that I feel the same way about you.All right…We can try that…I’m with you… I am… We were still all alone on the stone bank.Come on. under the protection of the trees. I did not know what to say. Once Rue de Nevers. and I could not bring myself to ask Lindy if she had plans to move to California. -Yes. I took a deep breath. and rushed by the book and print vendors on the upper bank. I smiled back. But I was also surprised at the relief I felt. . I guess we had found our legs again. I watched a speedboat going upstream and a flight of pigeons burst out from under the bridge. It did not take much effort to get where we wanted to go. but then dared to ask the hovering question. slender and graceful. and as always trying to control her hair. Then finally. I was shocked. she said. We had learned to move together and to be attentive to each other.
Lindy returned. I folded the letter. Ha! Imagine that! It was Marguerite Duras’ “The Lover”. It was long. elated by the memories of our day together. I called a cab for the next morning. it was also my own. I said. and then I sat down at the desk and wrote the first love letter I had ever written in my life. At some point. I kept picturing Lindy reading it and the words flowed as easily as if they were dictated to me by Eros himself. not eating very much. we put our elbows on the table and held our left hands palm against palm as we pronounced some unlikely vows. and toasting to everything. I am not a fan of jazz but this one sounded like Miles Davis. Then she took her turn. Even if I can't do anything about it. I repacked my suitcase. it will always be there. and lover of Psyche. It was slow. I started with the obvious. shooter of arrows. She had put on a jazz CD. and tucked it next to the bookmark in the pages of the book on her nightstand. no obligation. and we sat down to dinner. Once done. just live in the present and make the best of it all. I will always love you. The TV station must have been preparing a special on our dear Marguerite. I always will. We were feeling euphoric. letting myself believe that at least for these few hours. daring and lighthearted. and the ease with which we had solved our future. It was simple: no upheaval. carefully putting away in my wallet the Polaroid print from Diego. -Will you always love me? -Yes. She smiled in the candlelight.Once there. and dreamy. the kind of music that made you want to move slowly and lean back while blowing smoke rings and absorbing some forbidden substance. but that was just fine.
. son of Aphrodite. and held each other through the sometimes overpowering emotions that would surface in both of us afterwards. we stayed as long as we could. and I stayed alone in this beautiful apartment. Lindy insisted on going out to Rue de Buci to do some shopping for dinner. All we had was champagne. -Will you always desire me? -Yes.
A man and a
. I cleaned up the dishes from the night before. I made some coffee which I drank a little too fast and burnt myself.-Will you always be good to me? She asked. so I just held her and tried to engrave these few moments with her in my memory for ever. One last kiss. but we woke up in time without the alarm. -Next time you come to Paris. There was promise and regret in her tone. 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 did not know which one to go with. but it could also have fit within the blink of an eye. We saw the van was already there in the frame of the arch. but she could have meant Paris. and made love for what we felt could be the last time. A lifetime had gone by. As it turned out. Lindy's shooting crew was supposed to come pick her up a little before my cab was due. Suddenly our lovemaking became more emotional than skillful. before the next morning. We set the alarm for two hours before we had to get up. I looked up at the wispy pink clouds of dawn through the skylight one more time. -Yes! I will! Now I realize what Diego meant last night… good to you and true to you. I probably won't be living here… said Lindy. We sealed the vows with a kiss. and then we rushed down the stairs to escape the feeling that we might be doing the wrong thing after all. we eventually did fall asleep. the loving ahead of us. it was harder to let go than we expected. as our fingers folded around our left hands and held tight. I was bouncing my suitcase on its rickety wheels without paying any attention to noise or damage. the time came. Finally. I had first seen the sun rise from Lindy's bed just a few days ago. I think she meant the apartment. Lindy said she would call me and leave a message on my answering machine so that I would get it when I got home. Lindy took a shower while I deliberately did not. and finished packing. I said I would do the same. I will be. Not surprisingly. as we didn't want to fall asleep and then have to just get up and go.
I suddenly was exhausted. And then she had turned me loose…Maybe it was the most generous gift of all. I had never loved like this. By the time I went back to get my suitcase. but she looked at me briefly and I could see how impending tears could bring out the jade in her eyes. We had a new take on life. and walked outside the arch to throw it away in the public garbage can. j'arrive! She yelled back. When I finally got to the airport the first thing I did was call her and leave a message on her answering machine. conformity. -J'arrive. I had never known such freedom. I began… The van started honking. hopping into the van and waving.woman in the cab waved at Lindy. We had crossed a threshold past the barriers of isolation. even if my heart was a little worse for wear at the moment. heart and mind had reconciled for the first time ever. and we were going to see how it would affect our separate destinies. I finished the cigarette. I turned around and felt lightheaded as quiet tears started flowing down my face like a fountain. I might come back soon. or I might not. with such intensity. I lit a cigarette. I realized how far we had come in those few days. -Lindy. trying to compose myself and think my way out of this sudden despair. Lindy had taken me by the hand. and effortlessly walked me through it. let the chips fall where they may. I had never lived like this. and then we held each other tight standing on the street inside the arch. the sense of wonder that had graced our past four days. and stereotype and there was no turning back. after all these days of excruciating hesitation. Hearing her voice on the recording again. I might meet Lindy half way in New York. And then. What had we done?! I was leaning against the wall behind the arch trying to make sense of it all. When we pulled apart. She was gone.
. I waved back. She waved back. but nothing could ever match the beauty and excitement of the discovery. my taxi had arrived. Her cheek against mine… briefly… "I love you". her eyes were down. My heart and my breathing seemed to be fighting each other. 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 had to sit down on my suitcase.
it occurred to me that I had a crush on Bethany. Of course. If I did not end up being with her. There is always a mystery in those we are infatuated with. they didn’t have it. and our job is to get them to reveal that mystery to us. Chad Kroeger "Into the Night". They called the San Francisco plane for boarding. No surprise there. so we can solve all of their problems. of inner or past troubles. 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. There was also an aura of kinship.
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. It was time to take my new self back into the world at large.
. and off I went. I went to the airport bookstore to see if by chance they had a copy of Marguerite Duras’ “the Lover”. well maybe I could be more like her. There she was. an exhilaration I hadn’t felt for many years came over me…it was a mere flutter of the heart. Not that I am such a fan of hers mind you. masculine with the masculinity of courage and strength. and that her presence in a room enhanced our simplest experiences and gestures. with a feeling that I would never get tired of looking at her. talking and laughing with me and Minna her mother. that made me feel a little too protective about someone I did not know all that well.Lindy. 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. As I entered the kitchen. drinking a little too much. Half way through dinner that night. 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. 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. beautifully open.
enjoying all the fun and banter as we put away the dishes. As the epidemic of cholera descends upon the City of the Doges. where I had gone with Alison my partner of many years and some members of her family. They were unconventional. where I realized that it was time to make peace with many people with whom I had somehow quarreled with for various reasons. I had been doing this for the last year or so. and I was looking forward to seeing them again. and hoped that I would stay in touch. and Bethany was not a kid anymore. but thought that I never would. a sophisticated. Even after I finally went back to the perfect guest room that Minna had given me. I was appalled to think that at my age. It was just for a couple of days. I was lighthearted. and Minna. and well travelled. in which the aging hero. 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. Minna and Bethany were the bright spots of my week there. Venice. I remembered Minna’s offer. The similarity in names. Aschenbach sees himself as Tadzio’s protector. I thanked her. I still was not worried
. while he is himself about to die. We would stay up long after everyone else had gone to bed and discuss the world around glasses of wine and other exotic alcohols. I liked the way Minna was always ready for adventures on skis or otherwise. I could already be at the point of channeling good old Von Aschenbach. At 28 she had come back to live at home and go to school to study for a PhD in psychology. becomes infatuated with a young boy named Tadzio. Coming back to the dining room. intelligent. California. This was a time in my life. I liked the way Bethany talked to people much younger or older than her as if they were her peers.I started thinking about Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice”. I liked both of them a lot. sent her an email to which she responded promptly and repeated her invitation for me to come and stay. I was probably only slightly younger than Minna whereas he was much older than Tadzio’s mother. I had met her and Minna at a mountain resort in Colorado a few months before. Home was a beautiful villa in the wealthy part of Venice. and a visit to Los Angeles to meet with an attorney was part of this effort. active woman who wore jeans and could still look good in various types of hiking gear. So. Gustav Von Aschenbach. struck me as most ominous. They were for me a symbol of my beloved West: Bethany a typical blond and lithe Southern California kid. So there I was…I felt good.
elegant. It was almost a relief to leave the house and drive on the freeway on my way to Hollywood. she would have to give a speech and there was no way of course that she could miss this event. and being one of the recipients. I was spared honing the perfection of my few moments with her. a little bit of heaven for free as they say in Moroccan pastry shops when they give you a sample of their wares. I marveled at the way I could still get this feeling. In fact. Minna was very matter of fact about the award. It was a beautiful day. I was plotting to make sure that our moments together would be perfect…What did that mean? I didn’t really know. I knew that Bethany was going to go to school all day that day. and Minna told me the secret location of the spare house key so I could let myself in later. amongst the many occupants of Minna’s guest room. though no engagement had been in the works as long as Bethany had not finished her PhD. We had talked at length about VJ the night before. They were your perfect textbook Hollywood couple. But I wanted Bethany to somehow keep me in a special place in her memory. I think she probably had received so many of them already that they were part of the basic routine for her. and in love. as Bethany was already gone by the time Minna and I were having some breakfast while looking out to the ocean. VJ was one of these people blessed with a mixed heritage. and know that it was just a gift.about Aschenbach. his mother was Indian and his father was from Boston or somewhere similar back East. Minna had to attend an awards banquet that night. “Not exactly the Beauty and the Beast”. Much to my chagrin however. He was slim. That morning. They had showed me a photo of him and Bethany on some kind of fancy boat. He had the most perfect features I had ever seen on a young man. as I
. Minna had assured me that the relationship was serious. and not too smoggy. I was getting ready to go into Hollywood to meet the attorney. and then out on a date with her boyfriend Vijay or “VJ” as they called him. and yet keep it light. So knowing that I was going to see very little of Bethany. beautiful. I said. with brown skin that highlighted Bethany’s blond hair as it blew in the wind. holding bottles of beer and smiling at the camera. rich. His smile was broad and confident. It was in the morning that I felt the first signs that the disturbance was a little more serious than I thought. the water was glowing with silver sparkles under a light mist.
but I did not feel the same. I felt generous. when it is us who should have cared enough to hang on to the recipe!
. After catching up on our respective domestic situations for a while. and I was smiling back. I detoured a little bit along 405 South. I was lecturing to Richard Harris: let us not blame those who left the cake outside. and the silver of the morning had turned to gold. it was at the time when the sun starts going down. and went right back outside. saying hello. As I watched two toddlers see their sand castle get destroyed in a surf apocalypse. where I reminded him he sexually harassed me as he implied that if I stayed with him that night. and so did the lunch afterwards. It was liberating and strange all of a sudden. I walked on the beach all the way to the ocean and dipped my feet. and in touch with truths that I never thought would ever come to light. and the light somehow becomes richer and softer at the same time. The mist was gone. and walked in with a spring in my step. and stared at the waves for quite a while. our level of conversation became more intimate than I thought it could ever be. I retrieved the key from Minna’s hidden location. and walked into the empty house. Then went back North and through Hollywood. years before when I had lived in Santa Monica. It was not too different from the times. People were smiling at each other. The meeting went very well. but there were swimmers and waders basking in the fading sunshine. What a place to live! I sat down on the sand. The water was quite chilly. I felt better. guardian of our dreams and our longings. I smiled remembering how we used to make fun of “MacArthur Park”. We toasted to greed and to being young and stupid. feeling alive. things might go better for me.revisited many of my favorite locations on the way. but he did apologize and agree that many things he did then were obnoxious. hurtful and out of line. the “someone left a cake out in the rain” song. We even discussed a particular night. After all these years. it felt like I had finally become myself. I decided it was too early. just for fun. When I returned to Minna’s house in Venice. Everything looked good this morning. There. magnanimous and overflowing with forgiveness. from the palm lined avenues of Beverly Hills to the grimy sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. I pulled into the attorney’s driveway on Selma. well named Tinsel Town. I did not clear up all the mysteries surrounding our business relationship. free and ageless.
I went back into the house. and firmly intending to plant myself in front of the huge flat screen TV to watch one of Minna’s DVDs. I was examining the book collection as well. 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. finding a plate.Finally. . I said. three shelves below. Had Minna decided to forego the Awards night? Nah…in spite of her outward detachment. . . maybe she forgot something. Well. when I heard the front door open and close. "Anna Karenina". you never know when it might be lost or stolen. and others that seemed to be an endless repetition of stories of life after middle age divorce. Henry James’ "The Bostonians"… ah. and was getting ready to warm them up. well so did I! She did seem upset. I did not want to intrude. . . pouring the whisky over the cubes with great care not to pour too much or too little. I went back to my dinner.Sure. Then some classics. cooling the glass with ice cubes. in time to see Bethany rush up the stairs. M. Interesting.D. They had a lot of current and past best sellers… some of them I had read. Ah. but I wanted to be comforting somehow.
. Here was something different: "The Ultimate Orgasm". Better to be safe than sorry! I had just discovered the DVDs when Bethany came back down and said hello.Yes. a second copy of “The Ultimate Orgasm". Her eyes seemed a little pink as if she had been crying.Would you like to share some of last night’s leftovers with me? I offered.Great idea! I prepared that Scotch on the rocks like it was the Holy Communion.I thought you were going out tonight. that would be nice.Come here. I was holding up the bottle of 12 year old Scotch that Bethany had been drinking from the night before. . and I’ll fix you a nice cup’o tea. by John Wyclife. when it started looking a little more like dusk. I looked for DVDs in the bookcase. and as I always like to do. I found the leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner. I went back to the living room. She smiled.
of course. as Bethany and I sat down to dinner as the light turned crimson with the last rays of the sun disappearing into the ocean. and who got close enough for her to call them friends or lovers. . eh? Hmmm…What does he say about you?
. going down easy and was relaxing both of us. don’t hold it in. I heard myself voice the question I had been dying to ask. or of any misplaced desire I might have experienced earlier…I just wanted Bethany to feel better. . Australia. . We talked about a book I had read about the unanswered questions surrounding the attacks of September 11th 2001. We talked about movies we liked. he was there.Oh. It was dark outside. there is this girl Olivia Ramos.Ah. Minna had opened a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion last night that I brought to the table by the window. please.So what happened tonight? Do you want to talk about it. . 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. I could guess.She seemed to begin to relax a little. what we thought. . For all I know. we talked about our travels. He always says he thinks she’s really hot. where we had been. She was talking easily of this and that. in the middle of the Outback. . by chance.Well. She decided to stop by his house anyway just to keep his spirits up and help out.Do you have any idea where he went? . The wine was delicious and light. she’s from Brazil. I wasn’t thinking of Von Aschenbach then. on the road.So I called his cell phone. but I am not about to go lurking after him or anyone for that matter! I asked where she thought he went.Well that's true… she did not seem convinced. and I was determined to help in some way. . but he was not there. I can talk about it.Or at the emergency room. or would you rather not? Talk about it. what a fiasco! She explained that VJ had called her while she was still at school to cancel their date as he was feeling sick. . but it was on voice mail.He thinks she’s hot. and she flirts with everyone including him.
But let’s get back to the matter at hand here… do you two get along well? Do you like being with him? . I mean it. amazed at her beauty. I also think that there is something about you that is dangerously appealing. she asked. And I should know because I happen to have developed a huge crush on you since…well. from what you told me. and softly chuckled. I believe that a good relationship should help you come into your own and not make you more dependent.What do you know about this. I have. I looked back at her. . smiling. I said jokingly.Well. maybe. At least that's what I would have done… . Wyclife's arcane instructions. . do you love him? Your mother thinks you will marry him… . I said it lightly. that is of course very important… But Bethany. She looked down briefly. have you ever been with a man? . . .No. like a joke. We have fun together.Are you kidding? . more than one.Well. I’m not. but if outwardly you are quite stunning. 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. she laughed. and did not seem embarrassed at all. but I don’t think he’s ever said that about me. Yet the ghost of Gustav Von Aschenbach was asleep in its unholy grave and not bothering me at that moment. he pays me nice compliments every now and then.Yes. What do you want to know?
.Oh. this might not mean much to you. I do love him…sometimes I think I live through him a little too much…I cling to him. he’s never said it in my presence. Maybe the rescue operation was beginning to work. I do.Yes. 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. since yesterday. She looked straight back at me.Well.Ha. At least. .. when in reality he is not always giving you what you need. but that’s just me. She looked at me with a funny little smile. I have been around the block a few times. However.
had put on an air of overwhelming sensuality and erotic possibility. illicit and were deeply hidden. whether I was with her or away from her. I could hear the ocean as loud as if the house was right next to the surf. I recalled for her the story of my first female lover. and of an overwhelming
. my first time was right here in Los Angeles. in San Francisco’s North Beach. Actually. as it can expose the deepest recesses of our emotional selves. I said. . into territories where acquaintances seldom go.How does being with a man compare to being with a woman? . It was as if each moment was intensified. I became conscious of my breathing. oil pumping ones. my lover and I would have romantic dinners in Topanga Canyon. I described to her how we had made love almost nonstop for 48 hours in a garret apartment near the river. I told her about this perfect affair I had in Paris once. and how our lovemaking gave special meaning to all kinds of different places. and women are not always very careful with that. San Francisco…How it was magical and terrifying at the same time. She asked me all kinds of questions and I felt quite free to tell her all kinds of stories. .No. how being with her transformed everything around me…Los Angeles. the ones with the little houses and the little lawns. Being with men is more labor intensive – as you know . being with a woman is dangerous. Bethany was staring at me quite intensely.Was that your first time? . I don’t think Bethany was much aware that at the time homosexual affairs were still considered abnormal. and the ones with the big houses and the huge palm tree lined yards. On the other hand. quasi erotic friendships with men.and in a relationship with a man.Quite different. East Los Angeles. even though she was married for ten years and had given birth to two children. with a woman I had met at a cafe. Still. and I suddenly stopped talking.And off we went. I went on to say that even though I have developed very deep. one can remain guarded while possibly enjoying the sheer physicality of it. I had never experienced with them the same level of emotional intensity that I had with women. in Redondo Beach. All of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs even the industrial. I reminisced on how any time we found ourselves alone on a beach or a secluded trail was an excuse to make love. I recounted how we had made solemn promises to each other and how we had kept them through the years.
asking how school was going for her so far. I luxuriate. and she replied that it was going quite well. putting away unused silverware. wiping counters. as I really feel like running back and forth on the beach for miles all night long. I broke the spell by making small talk. and it is strange to say. wearing a Japanese silk robe with stylized cranes on it. I open my window wide so I can see the moon and its reflection on the water. I got up from the table. somewhat in love with her as I repeat her name to myself. Am I by any chance going down the same slippery slope of shame and obsession? No. filling up the dishwasher. oh so very “now” nondescript color tending toward green. Here’s one of them “Relish the luxuriant fragrance of French Lavender”.desire to kiss her. to find Bethany in my room. so I would think the water will be freezing and probably dangerous with undertow and rip tide. Instead. Finally. I finally exit the steamy bathroom. I force myself to come out and wrap myself in a huge bath towel. Tonight has been so good. as I am entranced by her. more intoxicating than the alcohol. and started gathering the dishes. I can still hear the ocean out there. Maybe even swimming! Swimming in the moonlight! However. Minna’s guest bathroom has one of those clear glass and tile sparkling clean showers with a huge shower head that dispenses a waterfall of warmth…there are also about 15 different kinds of shower gels and whatever else. no…I want to enjoy the feeling and all that comes with it right now. to our rooms. and we cleared the table. “Good night Bethany that was fun! Take care of yourself now…” “Yes. Dying is not an option. Once the kitchen was absolutely as sparkling clean as could be. of an elegant. though she was still nervous about whether or not she would be able to go all the way to PhD. this is not quite the Caribbean. So.
. and was shamelessly taunting me. Wrapped in the towel. My head is spinning a little from the wine. just like old Gustav liked to repeat Tadzio’s name. I recommend to myself a long hot shower to help me get in the mood to go to sleep. The salt in the air is exhilarating. and started busying ourselves in the kitchen. Bethany got up as well. we went up the stairs. so a shower will be a good substitute. I am so proud of myself for keeping my distance with Bethany. Gustav von Aschenbach emerged from the ashes of Thomas Mann. I will thank you…Goodnight! See you at breakfast…” I am back in my room.
as noted by my inner Sherlock Holmes. if only what’s his name could see you right now. tonight…”.a little too big for her. could you please write it down for me? It sounds really cool. She lowers her eyes and starts . The return is made of gentleness.
. OK. looking at me with the same moist eyes that she had when she first came back home.You know…I need to say this.Mind if I come in? She says… . naturally. we end up kissing instead. I want to give Bethany what she wants. . I feel Bethany’s hands around my waist from behind me. all the way to some strange ease.Oh Bethany. I’d like to get it. She looks flushed and smiling. I look at Bethany in the amber light of my reading lamp. to my utter surprise. along with an old business card from something somewhere. and I find it. but…I don’t think…I’m not…I mean this is not…. What follows is hard to describe in the sense that sexual encounters are the ultimate “you had to be there” experience. absolute physical abandon and comfort and an eerie feeling of belonging. a man’s robe. I start writing and stop dead in my tracks. . .Of course not… -That book you mentioned. All I can say is that after a few tentative and trembling moments. tenderness. I turn around. but in one of those moments that seem written somewhere in some all knowing piece of ether. as she whispers “thank you so much for talking to me. where the right moves start coming to you without thinking. we did make it though the barriers and the hesitation.Sure…Let me find my pen… I look around on the table and in my bag on the bed. where all shame and self consciousness disappear. start to say something old and wise and reasonable. She laughs. where the travelers know all. forgotten . and feel all. hours ago. Caught between complete disbelief and heart failure. she props her head up on her elbow. I guess it went quite well after all. But then. enough suffering. And then. she kisses softly. I don’t really care. are equally launched into some kind of unearthly plane. Instead it is a flight into some effortless journey. I say. sent back to their dark alleys. oh so softly the back of my neck and along the top of my shoulder.
I had no idea how reality was going to impact everything now that the dreaded morning after had come. I follow her. Just consider this my legacy. 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. “…angel…” I say. As I turn off the light. I am in a way teaching.Whoa… She rises and fumbles for the kimono on the floor. I grant you that. I smile. My last glimpse of her as my lover is of the hummingbird tattoo on the small of her back as she throws on the robe and shuts the door behind her. I’m not sure she would appreciate. or that I consider myself a “teacher of love” or something of a sort that would probably please Von Aschenbach to no end. how did you sleep?
. and started my morning ritual absent mindedly. She kisses me again lightly. I got up. She smiles back. It seemed that Minna and Bethany were up and about. though. I don’t know when I ever got to sleep that night. . 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. Bethany…I am not free anyway.Good morning! Said Minna. But in reality. We jump off in tandem. I must have. I say as I try to disengage in a calm and measured manner. We talk softly. She is looking at me. you better get out of here. I am in awe of my student. because I remember waking up to the sound of voices downstairs. except that you always look upon this kindly and with respect. and tiptoes toward the door. I guide her.Don’t worry. Now dear reader. . as I realize Minna is coming home. . don’t imagine that I know something secretly efficient about sexual matters. How easy it is to lose track of time. and I snap back to the world. I am not expecting anything from you. and by now. I am left alone in a mist of mystical proportions. I hear the front door open. she knows how to celebrate her relief in the best way possible.Here comes your mom.. She turns back to me and kisses me for such a long time that I am the one who pushes her off. Her beauty is overwhelming me. and things don’t always have to work out that way.
how Minna had prepared notes and gave a totally different speech. but maybe the way it came out was what I really meant. when after what seemed to be a very long time. . radiant. My inner Gustav was somewhere else. and thanked her for her kindness and hospitality. feeling easy and detached. She asked a couple of questions about my meeting with the attorney. I said. . I couldn’t. she was always radiant. up. She laughed quite easily. I saw Bethany finally walking out of the house. thank you! How was the awards banquet? Thankfully. Bethany came back just to keep me company.Yep. Bethany eventually sat down with us at the table. 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. mixing stuff in the blender. . I waved back. “Good morning!” She was smiling. energetic. I said goodbye to Minna. but on the other hand. At least I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset or ill at ease. As I turned toward the house. I saw Minna wave from the terrace. dressed. and the conversation stayed away from my evening and how it went. chasing young things around Venice. we got absorbed in the anecdotes from the banquet. not wanting to be distracted from the moment.So I hear you and Bethany lived it up last night? We both spontaneously burst out laughing. I was feeling quite happy with myself. knowing that this was a once in a lifetime episode. looking at her.What can I say…my pleasure!
. and it was well worth the trip. even when she was sad.Thank you Bethany. I couldn’t help but try to detect something beyond gracious hospitality.Out of the corner of my eye. and she was a perfect hostess. and realizing that Minna only meant finishing the bottle of perfect Bordeaux. I came down and started loading the rental car. . By the time I was packing up to go. I answered that it went well. -Oh. trying to make sure that I would remember everything. for being so…so graceful with me last night! I think I meant to say “gracious”. and it was about to be over. but honestly. I walked over to her. I could see Bethany. I slept very well. I finally started relaxing.
I checked the computer every day for more than 3 months. merely recent acquaintances and I did not feel free to email again and prod her into acknowledging me. Relieved. and was fully expecting a response. this cut to the quick. Bethany was gone. to knowing how Bethany was doing. we had crossed a threshold beyond which there might not be room for our former relationship as the older friend who knows how to understand young people. and I said jokingly how easy it was to say this from the point of view of her current surroundings. in my dark little heart. my mind was still with Bethany. Or maybe she was one of these people who become briefly interested in travelling companions. and to whom one can talk about just anything. By the time I looked in the rear view mirror. and finally answer me. Minna and I were not old friends. Still somewhere. I did not feel like I had cheated on anyone. To my surprise.
. so far. I sent Minna an email to thank her for her hospitality.We both started laughing. She had always been so pleasant with me. back home near San Francisco. I walked back to the car. as the episode with Bethany somehow seemed to have happened on a parallel branch of reality. Maybe she was upset because I teased her when she said that material possessions did not matter to her happiness. the value of the experience was all in the fact that it was not to be repeated. no response ever came. to enjoying a link which would not be broken. I had said that I did not expect anything. I was hoping that I would hear from her…that she would call and say “I miss you” or something like that. For about a week after I returned home. From the shadow of the house. I think she would have been more the confronting type. I am not very good at blowing kisses. but no pain. hoping that she would catch up with her email. waved again at Minna but she didn’t see me. Bethany closed her eyes and blew me a kiss. and would not have taken the sullen silent approach. So there was a certain amount of longing. It was a strange feeling to return to everyday life. However. Had she found out about Bethany and me? I didn’t think so…If she knew and disapproved. I was looking forward to hearing from her. and then decides that they have too many friends already. I wondered why Minna was not responding. so I got in the car and drove away. that it never occurred to me that she might not reply. For some reason. But I didn’t really know. Somehow. and I felt that for her.
I felt like I was really cheating. It is funny how technology has given all of us the means to become stalkers. and I would review over and over again our brief encounter in Venice. Not only my partner. whatever that gala was I couldn’t even figure out from the article. radiant of course. I would fall into a private swoon about my lost Bethany. I would also have moments where I realized how silly this whole thing was. if I was alone somewhere. but everyone around me.Minna’s silence broke the link between me and Bethany. and maybe also shame. Over the caption was a photo of Bethany. I had been so cool. a herald of the end of my days which was approaching as surely as disinfectant spreading over the Piazza San Marco. especially since it looked like Minna had lost her motivation to stay in touch. Now. I felt like I was Bethany myself. The caption is what I saw first: “Bethany O’Brien and beau. and turning into Gustav von Aschenbach for good. after all this turmoil and go back to the way it was before Venice. but he was looking at her and not at the camera. Sometimes. I felt that maybe just like Tadzio. This contact with reality helped me get back some of my footing. He was not as striking as VJ. I could not imagine what it would be like to see her now. Often. About two months later.
. thinking about Bethany. and she was looking at the young man with such an affectionate smile. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably never see nor hear from Bethany or Minna ever again. in an emotional space that carried a large payload of inadequacy. the local newspaper in Venice California. I went on with my everyday life with always a little bit of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. It was a sign that I had to start working hard on my recovery. and plunged me into a dark vat of infatuation and yearning. as I was distracted most of the time. and imagined what it would be like to be her. and became angry at myself. at her most…well. regret. This. that I could not help but look at him affectionately as well. nor really a desire. at a time when my life should be settling into some kind of peace. Some other times. I finally gave in and searched the Internet for Bethany’s name. The first article that came up was the society page of the Venice News. But this knowledge did not eliminate the longing for her. I would imagine that Bethany was with me. and he seemed to be excited and happy to be with her. smooching at this year’s Gala”. calm and collected when I told Bethany that I didn’t expect anything from her. Bethany was the angel of Death. Whenever something went wrong and I didn’t feel like I had been at my best for any reason. And it was true in a way. I knew perfectly well that pursuing Bethany was not an option.
but the streetlights had come on. a feeling of being vulnerable. had somehow caused an unconscious regression. I happened to be driving down the hill at sundown. 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. I occurred to me that recent events in my life related to my family or what was left of it. California. I loved the song. They were playing a Carlos Santana song that I had heard only a couple of times before. I did not enjoy feeling like one of those teenagers who have crushes on famous people that they can never attain. the clouds suddenly opened up onto a patch of purple sky with a giant moon reflected in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. ever since I had seen Alfred Hitchcock’s eerie and suspense less “Vertigo” as an adult that it is not the mere human being that we obsess on. Where the hell did this come from? Little by little. to horseback rides in the hills. without defenses and with a real purity of intent. the elation of absorbing it all and appreciating all
. accompanying me to work. and that memory was with me a lot of the time.was too distracting. ostracized and unloved. and could not help but start singing along full blast. In the end. to sleep. except for this wonderful gift of herself for a couple of hours one night in Venice. As I was singing and driving. It was not easy to dismiss a memory of such power. going for a sexy look. and my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. listening to the radio in my car. and chasing after some unknown idea of success. that last bastion of privacy. My memory of the event however. that suddenly placed me back into myself as a teenager. to this gorgeous world. too unnerving. and uninteresting. was that Bethany whatever her original motives might have been. when she happened to be needy and probably curious. I could see all these other people who looked so typical. I had been aware. with this strange feeling of being incomplete unless a specific chosen person loved me. to quiet evenings and noisy parties alike. and I had to exorcise it somehow. Looking at the photos from the Gala in the Venice News. had given of herself without fear. But was she really that different from them? How would I know? I hardly knew her. except for Bethany. They seemed to be milling about and posing in some kitschy vacuum. It was not dark yet. but more the idealized image that we have of them. One day. they all looked alike. responding to the splendid moon with glitter while the giant tsunami of fog was rolling over the hill.
or maybe it was the spirit that we both harbored that night. is to have recognized that my attraction to this young woman. The feeling was familiar. as I think it would be good and settling to know how her life is going. and maybe it is better this way. It would last. Bethany and I had experienced it together that night in Venice. but I could see clearly at that moment. or maybe it was just one of those unworldly connections that happen sometimes between strangers. and probably a representation of a self I would have liked to be. and I found it deep within myself. I realized that what we had given each other did not require repeated encounters in order to remain. that the magic and mystery of sex was in reality a quick.that was there for me. it was our own. I do relish the memories of that night. it was all about life…the good life…Aschenbach be damned!!
. To be honest. but we had inadvertently shared a moment blessed with a view of a world beyond our selves. However I will never know who she really is or whom she chooses to be in her life of every day. because it lived in each of us. I see nothing but love. As it turned out. and we had opened that door for each other. share in her happiness or be there for friendship and comfort when needed. who was beautiful and brave. I still grieve for any kind of link between us. I do owe her respect and love for who she is and not who I sometimes imagine her to be. I have never read the “Ultimate Orgasm”. was not about despair or death. Maybe it was the circumstances. and reminisce on occasion. it was like that for me. almost spiritual way. miniature glimpse into the essence of life itself. and I can only hope that it was like that for her as well. My infatuation with Bethany remains to this day. She found it again where she wanted to find it. When I look back at our brief moments together. still with delight. albeit in a more restrained. To keep… The most important. At least.
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