Wednesday, December 29, 2010

american bandages

I took my 2 bags and entered another century.  They placed me in chambre Pastoukhoff.  The gentleman who helped me with my bags told me Pastoukhoff was a Russian painter who stayed in that room for several years and paid for his board with paintings, of which more than 80 are still in the hotel.  The one above the bed was a certain lady in a white pant suit with one foot on her chair pointing her knee to the ceiling- in the aerial space she’d rather be, so sure of herself with a dangling cigarette between her painted nails as if that useless cigarette was as useless as everyone she knew.  Each time we spoke, she reminded me of George Sand in her assuredness and ease.  Her gaze was arrogant, she was thin and rich and she belonged in that room in the Lancaster Hotel.  She belongs there for another century to come, to be sure future guests are reminded of their fortune to be in her presence.

I take it she was also Russian; her beach colored hair and complexion married the neutral walls and her red vertical nails walked down the headboard.  The chandelier caught her eye and mimicked her accordion blonde curls.  I thought how fortunate she was to be in such comfort, always in such comfort.  Her cheeks poked the curtains.  She blushed in the sun- from her sensitive skin, certainly not sensitive emotions.  We got along well enough for the short time I was there; she cursed a little but she never used the bathroom and left me full reign of the marble room to take long luxurious baths without interruption.  

It was a time of surprises I'll cherish long past this winter. 

I wasn't supposed to be in a hotel- I was supposed to spend my 3rd week in Paris in another apartment in the Marais, but the keys were never returned by the previous tenant.  As I waited in a corner café for the owner of the apartment to call me back, I sat with H's chauffer, sharing stories.  Out of the blue, H arranged for me to stay in a hotel as an alternative.  His driver was to take me there.  I was in shock, somewhat embarrassed- because I can take care of myself- yet melted that someone would be so kind, so generous, stepping in to my situation to offer to help.  My eyes filled.  I didn't know what to say, feeling sort of stupid, sort of lucky and unlucky, sort of lost and found.  I’d been keeping composure of nowhere to go.  Yes, yes, I love surprises, love adventure, but wasn’t expecting this one.  I surrendered, filled with gratitude.

I thought of the rarity of this experience.  Thinking how that morning I woke up, packed my bags to move from one sweet apartment to another- certain to spend the week there.  But that never happened.  A bad surprise turned to a good surprise; as in love and the course of my heart.  I was well on my way to healing my hurts, and in hours of conversations I was convinced that yes, I deserve to receive.  To experience what one beautiful soul can do for another, in such thoughtfulness and kindness, to witness such generosity, I am reminded that good things really do happen to good people.  I will never in my life forget this moment.  Nor the course of surprises that ensued.

Two days later H invited me to Casablanca and on the airplane he told me his story of his dislocated shoulder- and how they put an American bandage on it.  I laughed and said that would be a good name for a movie.

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