Thursday, April 26, 2012

way to nowhere:


I had to pack another face with me.  One that wasn’t so fragile, nor tense.  I had a little extra room in my bag for such a thing, but I wasn’t sure how well it would fare the ride.  And sitting in the familiar French train I see the reflection of others in the windows.  I look and see mine.  I don’t like it.  Reflecting off the dusk and snow, the grey rivers of St. Germain, repeating rooftops and passing graffiti, tufts of grass poking through the hard new snow.

La Petite Misere

And the little miserable ones went walking their swans, telling the future.  They had the misfortune of knowing, and we all know what it is to cut down those who claim to know the future.  We’re the ones who are sold and sure on what we’ve been told, that it’s of no use to try to understand.  They’re wrong and you know it. 


I’m grateful for this pen, missing my original pen that exploded on the airplane.  The woman I sat next to was also a writer.  She saw how my pen exploded and offered me a paper to wrap it in.  She told me she loves these pens and that it happens sometimes in airplanes, she doesn’t’ know why.  Then she checked on hers and pulled out a great big handful of my exact pen.  At first I said no, but then I had to say yes, thank you.  And here I write, in the Marais with the airplane pen. 

So thank you, Barbara from Vermont.  Thank you for your stories, especially the one of your wild neighbor back in your day, back in the 70s when you were in your 20s, downtown NY.  And an eccentric Parisian guy moved in next door.  You knew he was smart- a genius in fact.  He’d sometimes lock himself out and you’d find him asleep in front of his door.  You told him “Ca ne va pas” and that it’s dangerous, he could be hurt by someone.  After it happened a few times, he decided to remove his door from the hinges.  He no longer had a front door and that was your first hint.

He told her it was love at first sight.  He pursued but she had her own life, she was 22 and he, 27 or so.  He bought two tickets to Halifax.  And he insisted she go with him.  The next day she returned the ticket to him- he wasn’t home but she went through his missing door and left it on the counter.  Weeks went by and one of his relatives called, saying he hasn’t surfaced for work or life, if she might know where he is.  She had a good idea.

His family went looking for him in Halifax, found him and relocated him back to France. This was a family of nobility, owning a great chateau on great old land, the uber affluent.  He stayed in Paris, and never returned to the estate.  Years, decades, went by and they contacted her again- this time to see if she could help.  They said: Did you know?  We thought you should know: that M has been waiting for you at the station for 40 years.  Every day he gets up, rain or shine, buys flowers and goes to all the train stations in Paris and waits for you.

Wishing and wanting of another.  That unfinished business of love and that everlasting battle of love vs. sanity.  That poor genius rich man- he went insane with the love and lost himself.  He walked through gare de l’est to gare du nord to montparnasse every day looking for and waiting for her.  For 40 years.  He could’ve looked homeless.  He never returned to his family, to the estate and ease; rather he jailed himself in a waiting game. 

When he got towards the end of his life, and his family knew he was sick, wandering those cold train stations, standing around all day in all climates; they begged him to stay home, but he insisted on going, on waiting for her to show up.  So they contacted her, to show up.  She flew out to Paris to help.  First they met at a restaurant and he ordered everything on the menu to make lunch last hours, he didn’t want it to end.  Then they agreed to meet at the train station the next day.  When she got out of the train, he wasn’t on the right track, he was far, to get the long distance view and make her arrival last longer.  She said to him now you can stop waiting for me to arrive, I’ve made it, I’m here.  He said, no you don’t understand, now I have two people to wait for- for you to arrive again, and for her to arrive.  He saw the younger 22 yr. old version of her as a separate person, so now there were two reasons to come to the train station everyday.  For her in the present and her in the past.  He was not cured.  Only death could cure him, and it did.

Running Away, Part 23
Dec. 2010

Thinking back to my visits of the world I realize a lot of them had to do with letting go.  I spent this past May in Côtes de Provence to leave my life as I knew it, and to mourn someplace else.  I had the hardest time just being alone, without Pepe.  I’d still rather be home with her now than here in Paris, or anywhere else, but she’s gone.  I’m not sure I can explain the depths I’d experienced.  How do you explain pain?  You don’t know someone else’s pain unless you could possibly experience it yourself.  Impossible.

I recall I was in St. Mandrier, in search of beauty.  Everything was closed.  It wasn’t the season to be in beauty.  Nor were my feelings.  I was at the apartment/hotel and dragged the bed out on the balcony.  I laid on it and cried on the sheets.  These were some of the saddest moments of my life.  They didn’t end.  They just continued.  I was draped in a nightmare.  Each morning, each night, seemed worse than the other, I felt so helpless, so useless, so lost.  I put myself out there in a closed corner of the world to get the hell away from everything I knew.  I’d just lost my darling girl of 15 years, right after I was stabbed in the back by my ex.  I needed to escape- and escape I did- within the deepest broken heart I'd ever known.  I recall those pink sheets and the tile floor, the tacky kitchen, the closet doors that never closed.  Through the balustrade of my prison balcony I spied on people coming and going.  Strangers crossed the garden moving on with their lives, clinking glasses, enjoying the pastels in nature and man made design, and all the while my heart swallowed and silenced the majesties of happiness.  The sea slowed like the sun and I kept adjusting with the shadows so nothing was random and nothing was free.

And when the sun got tired I never knew a more profound darkness and actual fear than within those walls on the Mediterranean.  I had been hushed.

 View from my prison balcony, St. Mandrier

"Ideals are like stars.  You will not succeed in touching them with your hands.  But like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides and following them, you’ll reach your destiny."  Carl Schurz

That right there, that above was printed inside a miniature paper purse, on the inside of the purse itself.  It was left on the silver dish of the room in Marrakech with some sort of flavor nuts inside.

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