Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 37 - UP FROM THE CITY

On the drive up I miss the turn onto the Northway. Close on the seat beside me Gillian is fiddling, prettily, with little items – a shamrock key chain, an eye glass repair kit, a tiny game with a little ball you try to maneuver into a bull’s-eye hole – things she got from a rest stop vending machine – the sort of things that fascinate when you return from very non-American places, which she did recently from a few years in the Tibetan refugee part of India.

We go by mistake so far in the wrong direction on the New York Thruway that it feels like we are in the Midwest, and we both find this funny, and I remember being in family cars and how a wrong turn would in all the years ahead be held against you. She quotes her late father being cheerful about what he called, when a wrong turn was made, “grand turismo,” and this makes me a little nervous, for I am not sure that if he were alive he would not now be closer to my age than Gillian was. And I thought of what she had just told me about how when she was barely at the start of puberty her father and her near-famous celebrity-fucker mother would have their children strip on a cold Maine beach and then both parents would egg Gillian on to suck off her little brother.

The context was our talking about Wasp summer places. “I didn’t have a magic kingdom, like you did in New Hampshire,” she said. "We had places but we were renters.”

This talk about our backgrounds, and now her sexually convoluted upbringing. Razor-edge horrible, but I could relate. But oh God I like where I am right now, the crisp piney air flowing through the aqua Mustang, and beside me a pretty blond who seems both girl and woman, and we talk and talk about many other matters, and we inch closer to each other, and it feels as if this is something not so much like all the other sex in adulthood but something more like from dreams.

We turn around at one of those places on the Thruway conveniently marked with a no U-turn sign. Back in the right direction, we switch after Albany and Troy to Rt. 7 and other old roads, and we stop whenever we feel like it. In sunset, beneath a willow, she stands and raises her arms over her head, pulling her long hair up and letting it fall, stretching, the body’s line imprinted on her sweater, and then her arms are around me and she is pulling herself up – though again this may not mean much since in the circles where we met there was so much expected and supposedly chaste hugging.

It is early autumn now. The reason I am no longer alone in the car is that when I was just down in the city, in one of our chats by the African fetish figures she sells from a sheet spread out on the sidewalk near the Modern Art Museum, I told her it was almost my birthday. And I spoke of the north and my summer adventures, and we decided we should drive up together to look at the fall foliage which in a week would be at peak in Vermont. New Hampshire too.

At one point at dusk we are on shale rock at a dark pond in the woods, where small fish leap up for insects, creating expanding circles on the mostly still water – a place of instant nostalgia though neither of us has been here before. We begin a kid’s competition to see whose flat stone will skip the farthest across the water’s surface.

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