It’s warm outside today, but there’s a bit of a breeze and plenty of shade on this porch. And the far sounds of the street are just enough to lull me into a sort of daydream. About you, of course. You, whom I promised not to write about anymore. But I don’t think I’m betraying any confidences, so I think we’re ok.
I sometimes picture that night, with your chambray shirt half buttoned and this glow that you radiated. Who in the hell were you? I was wearing fake eyelashes and red lipstick. My hair was pinned back because I needed a haircut, much like I do right this second. It never fails that I always meet you boys for the first time when I’m terribly dressed. The phrase “cringe worthy” comes to mind.
Sometimes I wonder if that night was just my imagination. But I know better. You belong to the class of rich playboys who have one night stands with women and sweep them off their feet. I used to think this was selfish of guys like you. So goddamned charismatic. You had no problems jumping over the pleasantries of first dates. And we both know that pleasantries are never pleasant. What good is small talk to people like us? We are anything but small.
I was talking to a friend the other night, and she told me a similar story. She met a guy at a club. They exchanged numbers. And before the night was through, she was drinking champagne on the terrace of the Presidential Suite at The Plaza. Naked, of course. She was 33 and he was ten years younger. One of those crazy nights you’d never expect. And then he was just gone, forever.
I used to try to spin gold from those nights. With you and the others like you…though no one is quite like you, my dear. Certainly relationships ensue from nights like that, right? That sort of intimacy means ‘future’ in my language. But it’s a language you boys never seem to speak. And so much gets lost in translation.
I sometimes try to picture you, where you are now. Hunched over a laptop, but most likely sitting crossed-legged on a patio chair, smoking a rolled cigarette. Your brother somewhere close by. With a view. And even with the trappings of luxury all around, that is not what you are. Urbane, yes. Sophisticated, you are the definition. But superficial? That, you could never be.
I sometimes try to picture me, in that life with you. It isn’t as hard as you might think. Growing up the way I did, on other people’s terraces, privy to the lives of the most fortunate, whose worries never seemed to encompass the mundane. Always mother of pearl inlayed cheese knives and silver handled cutting boards and olives in bowls and fresh cut flowers arranged impromptu for agenda-less nights. What a pretty life. The lives of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Filled with pretty trinkets and empty thoughts.
“Was it Milan where we first tried this wine?”
“Didn’t I get this ring on that trip to Budapest? After we docked the yacht off the Dalmatian Coast and decided to make an extra week of it?”
But in those situations, I was always Nick Carraway, the distant observer. Never quite comfortable enough to nestle in and join the show. Always two steps out of the circle. Always narrating the present to my future fingertips for dictation.
Sometimes, I think it must be so pretty to be you. And sometimes, the veneer recedes, and I remember just how thin it is. And how grateful I am for having seen past the sheen to the man with the tiny name, the vast understanding, the deep black eyes, the courtesy of a knight, and feet I still can’t believe ever touched the ground. And when you speak in your language…on phone calls? And I don’t understand? I swoon. Are you born with this gift, or do playboys take a class in it at prep schools? Bravo to your teachers.
Cashmere was invented to swaddle you. But no fabric can save you from yourself. You and I are alike that way. We are rarely comforted. Our minds keep moving at light speed. Always questioning. Let the others seek inner peace. We want answers, goddammit. We want satisfaction. We’re not looking to settle our souls. We are looking for kindling to keep the fires going. We are looking for others that bring oxygen to the equation and we combust even more. Comets of fire hiding ice cores inside. Coming closer to the sun and then receding from view. Always on our own paths.
And so single nights with one another are the equivalent of others’ months, years. We burn brightly, and then we must lay fallow and recharge for the next encounter, where we will burn brightly again. It takes so much to be us. If we’re not careful, we can be completely consumed.
Oh, my pretty boy. I imagine you reading this and smiling. I imagine you reaching for your phone to write. And then putting it down. Because it isn’t time. Maybe the time has passed. And maybe you are putting it off into the future. But, in any case, I got you to smile. Not with my beauty or my money or fame, none of which I really possess. But with my memory, that dims as we move in the fourth dimension, but never quite goes out.