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