Regina

Regina has deep green eyes and soft brown hair. There was a pause,  a comfortable pause, we both knew what would follow and had to let it build up a little for it to be true. Then she spoke.

        – I’m going to come back.

        – Good for you.

        – You don’t believe me?

        – Sure I do.

        – Thank you.

        – For what?

       –  For helping me.

        – Okay.

        – When I come back I want to buy you a drink.

        – That won’t be necessary.

        – Then let’s go for coffee.

        – Right.

        – I mean it.

       –  I know you do.

        – So? Maybe you can give me your number or something? I don’t think they’ll let me have it if I ask…

        – I think we’re done now.

        – No number?

        – No number.

        – Good bye?

        – Good bye.

She’s 18, got into trouble here and needed repatriation to Germany. I was asked to evaluate her and write up the report for the insurance company. The situation was complicated and required tact and care— she wasn’t easy. All through our first conversation Regina was trying to figure me out, calibrating me, testing me; wanting to know what I wanted to hear, who she needed to be for me to like her. I relaxed and listened; asked a couple of questions, let her do the steering, let her take me for the ride, let her show me how smart she was.  She’s smart, very smart. Knows men and knows how to handle them.

 Last year she spent six months in Spain, living with a boyfriend next to the beach. That boyfriend was 56 years-old. That’s a 38 year age gap.  She smiled, she cajoled, she cried and finally, she was brilliant—just to let me enjoy her cleverness. We talked about violin music and violin players; I had to play catch up but she’d always slowed down if I fell to far back. I knew what she wanted— if, the insurance company could establish she’d knowingly lied to them, it was over, she’d get a tough deal, and would have to pay for all expenses incurred. She needed a break and I let her have it; the Germans would come and pull her out sometime after midnight, I signed the papers. I got a telephone call from a man in Germany; he was brief, I was brief—we both appreciated each other’s brevity.

Maybe she did figure me out.

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Friday.Jan.4.2013 – Day in the Life

This week: Lawyers/inheritance/early morning visit/.38/instinct

A notification arrived from another of the unknown sons of my deceased uncle threatening to proceed legally against my mother if she did not hand over the total of the money that is “rightfully” his. The basic problem at hand is that no money is rightfully his since my uncle actually owed my parents, and many others, substantial sums of money. My mother went once again into minor panic and then into denial, choosing to ignore yet another threat by the apparent endless progeny of the deceased man. It also has to do with lawyers. They will throw anything at you just to see if something sticks. We called Ricardo and he wrote up something that addressed the pertinent problems and explained the situation. I said I’d deliver it.

Their house, which is at the beginning of the not so nice part of town, uphill, is large. I got there at 06:50 which is the right time to get people while they’re still unprepared for trouble but already starting to get up or at least thinking about it; besides, you get to know a lot about them by what they’re doing at that time.

His mother was already up; he was still in bed and had to be called down, they have a large dog that liked me, I sat in their living room and drank a glass of Coke that was offered. We talked and agreed to arrange a meeting in the course of the week to further talk it out, this time with their lawyers and both my parents present.

The meeting was held yesterday, our strategy ruined by my mother accusing them in unkind terms of being conniving money grabbing parasites that should instead try working for a living; but all in all it was positive since we managed to reach the beginning of an agreement with their lawyers as to how we will proceed.

Strange thing: just before leaving my apartment I thought of taking a piece. Took the snubnose SP101 .38 out, checked it, loaded the barrel, put it inside its holster, but finally decided to leave it behind. Instinct is trying to tell me something.

Not a petty challenge for me.

I’ve been away from The Aradic Sismic, profligating, climbing, reading, meeting up with people, short travelling, watching movies and, it now seems important, going to the gym.

Writing and learning to write properly is an activity that requires time, patience, introspection, dedication and responsibility towards one’s admitted goals. To become a better writer, it has widely been affirmed, one must dedicate time to the activity itself in sufficient amount as to bring forth an evolution of the writer within into someone producing material worth reading.  This has not been easy since one cannot “do things” and write about them at the same time.

In lieu  of potential quality or written worthiness, I will have to adopt a more informal approach to what is consigned in The Aradic Sismic, opting instead to convert it into a “journal” of sorts were information is to be deposited for future reference. The future, I trust, will benevolently permit the time to sit down and learn the writing craft in a proper manner. For now, the priority is the consignation of “material”, the minutia of everyday occurrence.  The minute documentation of a minute life which is in itself not a petty challenge for me.

Four years seem like a long time…

I’ve been doing things lately. Different things. Some of them exciting or intense, like going out into the mountains in bad weather or starting an affair with a married woman in spite of knowing better; but also more mundane things like catching up on paperwork, reading books and blogs, as well as writing back to old friends.

I had decided to only have friendships with married women because of all the inherent complications that usually ensue if you go further. Sarah has been married for nine years and we met four years ago in work related activities. Hers husband is a jerk and I am in all probability an even bigger jerk, it made sense. We knew something was happening back then but nothing happened in the end since we were very much aware of the inappropriateness of it all. We were both also workaholics that took pride in sleep deprivation and skipping meals. It is also true that back then I was madly in love with Helena and was preparing the ill fated expedition to Guyana, which of course made me solidly faithful to her. Sarah is romantic in an intense and almost existential way, explaining attitudes and actions through what she feels to be love; which is why she found my perceived renouncement to job, predictable income and prestige to go after Helena to be such an admirable action.  I no longer believe in love as a driving force in my life.

Anyhow, while coming out of The Blueberries cafe last week we ran into each other. A coffee appointment was made for a day later. She’s working independently now. A week later I asked her to skip her morning obligations and go moto-riding with me to the countryside. She accepted last minute and we had a good time together. We then rode very fast to get back into the city for her to make it in time to a lunch appointment. She liked that. She texted a week later and asked what I was doing and I answered, “Waiting for you to come over.”  I gave her my address. She came by and I answered the door in a T-shirt and white judo-gi pants.  She understood we weren’t going out and we both stood there looking at each other for a long minute. I pushed her against the wall and kissed her. That’s how that got started. All along I knew it would be trouble but I feel no remorse, four years of wanting someone is a long time. She’s a very fragile woman, strong and delicate; I can feel the weight of her emotions surrounding me when we make love, I can feel them when she tightly closes her arms around my back, as if she was afraid of being swept away by them.

Clemence Smiled.

The dramatics of final farewells no longer hold uncertainty.  What should not be said is left unsaid, what needs to be done is done, actions linger more than words and awkwardness is avoided.  The feeling is not pleasant but there is a sense of liberation as well as comfort when I get back from the airport, turn the key,  go in, put some music on, and sit on the sofa; satisfied  that my apartment is once again my own.

This time there was something different, and it had to do with conversations I had with Clemence.  In a sense, they were not conversations; it was one long conversation with different chapters and acts interrupted by walks, eating, sleeping, sex, motorcycle rides and movie watching but always returning to itself and continuing. Sometimes with better insight, sometimes with  exasperation.

Her words have stayed. I found them when I came back and felt the weight of unanswered questions.   We knew we would not have much time together.  We knew we had to drive everything hard into the ground and burn it all up. Crash it. Break it.  So that is what we did.

Clemence was different. I am still in touch with Barbora, as well as with Ilse, even if it is  in an odd “so, are you still alive?” sort of way, and of course with Helena we have a promise that will be kept.  With Clemence no postcards will be sent, no Facebook searches or invites to be carried out, no polite happy birthdays needed or expected. She is gone.

She was not fast, nor slow; her mind moved like that of older women I’ve known, with the unavoidable weight of unadorned certainty.  When she made a comment she did not expect approval or dissent, she expected an answer on which to build and move forward.   Sometimes it got too intense, so we would have sex to shut each other up and stop having to think. it was good sex.

She smoked.  She did so calmly or nervously, depending on her mood, always apologetically like most young smokers do now; not having known a time when smoking was not frowned upon.   Clemence, smoking in bed, said to me, “you have sex to avoid forming an emotional bond with women, you treat your body and ours as objects”.

I let her smoke in bed because I can remember how good it felt, and because it was like if we were a couple in an old movie.  I let her inhale and then said, “yes, I treat bodies as objects, however precious, that’s what they are, but apart from being afraid of emotional bonding I like sex because it feels good”.   “You’re a sex addict”. “Do you think so?”. “I am sure”.

The words linger and the question of the part sex plays in my life remains.  I do not agree with Clemence.  I do not use sex to avoid emotional bonds with women, if I did that, I wouldn’t write or think about them. I like women. I enjoy being with them and getting to know them, and after having sex I discover great things.  I learn about their lives and past, their families and past loves, their heartbreaks and of their courage and victories.   I admire women.  Having sex with them is the one true way I have found to express this to them.

Have I lied, cajoled, tricked and gone out of my way to get a woman into bed? Yes, or course. Unless one is in love, and unless that love is reciprocated, I know of no other way to go do it.   Do I regret this? No.  Has it been consensual? Yes. Has it been the result of responsible and informed mutual consent with prior agreement of stipulated limitations and expectations in a rational adult way? No.   Am I an emotionally immature selfish asshole unwilling to compromise beyond my limited capacity for empathy and sharing? Probably, but I try to be self conscious of this and not let it get out of hand.

I told Clemence that I had a blog.  This blog. The Aradic Sismic.  That the header had a painting of a woman that was smoking.  “Ah. It is destiny maybe then? Destiny knew we would meet. That is nice. What do you write about on this blog?”   “Thoughts and pieces of my life I don’t want to forget”.

I told her that it had surprised me to find the amount of bloggers who were writers in different stages of development, all learning and writing, developing what they call “their craft”.   I told her of a blogger called Matt Williams who wrote interesting stuff and had commented once that I could write about the things that have happened in my life, and how, some days ago I commented on a post of his declaring that since I was not a writer myself my opinion should be taken as that of a layman, but that from that day on the idea of learning to write in a more methodical manner had began to grow in me.

“So you want to become a writer?”

“Yes.”

“It’s very hard to be a good one.”

“I don’t think I really want to be a good one, I suspect that takes talent I don’t have, I just want to be a real one, whatever that means”.

“Then you will need to make sacrifices and commitments, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And you may need a strong woman too.”

“I like strong women.”

“In English?”

“Probably in Spanish, I don’t trust my English to do what I want.”

“I wish you luck. If I ever see a book with your name as author, I will buy it, I promise”.

“Ok.”, I smiled.  Clemence can barely speak Spanish.

“Let’s watch a movie”.

“Which one?”

“Hanna. I like her. She’s brave.”

“I like you. You’re brave.”

She smiled.

Clemence. Belmondo. Bronson.

Clemence is French. When saying her name, the second “e” is meant to sound like an “a”.  I enjoy spending time with her.  During the weekend we watched an old Jean Paul Belmondo movie.   Belmondo is a tough guy, but also a funny one, running around Paris karate-chopping, punching and kicking  at long haired seventies villains; cracking witticisms all along while he does it. Clemence feels a little embarrassed by Mr. Belmondo and explains to me that he is not to be taken as a parameter of what French cinema has to offer.  I smile and ask her who she thinks would win a fight between Belmondo and Bronson.  She looks up, thinks and then says, “That is not possible, Belmondo and Bronson would never fight each other, they are both good guys, yes?”, and looks at me as if she’d just had to explain something to a not very bright child.   She knows her Seventies tough guys:  Bronson, Belmondo, McQueen, Eastwood, Marvin, Coburn and even a few I can’t place.  Her father would watch these movies every other weekend with Clemence and her sisters when he was still studying and her mother had a weekend shift. Her father is 55, fifteen years older than I am.   We both have the same profession although not the same area of specialty. She tells me it is strange to find similar attitudes, opinions and verbal mannerisms in two persons who are so different, so she asks to know my opinion on it.  I tell her the psychoanalytical implications of this are better left unexamined for our own sake.  She opens her eyes wide in mock shock and then smiles.

Clemence has seen many things, good and bad, has lived in Nepal and India, traveled through Africa and laughs with innocence.  She does not believe in religion.   She asks personal questions with a very serious expression on her eyes; listening then, no matter how long the answer is, with intent attention.   When I asked, she told me the story of her tattoos, two small ones on her wrists.  I listened without interrupting.   When she was done, I nodded, we both fell silent for a while and then I asked her if she wanted more tea. She drinks tea. Darjeeling.     I drink expresso, black and with no sugar or cream, just like her father.  She is falling in love with me and I with her, we know it, but we’re also both cowards when it comes to love; she will run out and I won’t go after her, we’ll both then tell our respective friends that it just wasn’t meant to be.  And now that I think about it, this post is the beginning of our goodbye.