Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 42 – FEET

This new time, driving in Vermont, free of the past, it seemed, but mostly staying in the car, this time requiring solitude, perhaps so certain of my course that I could not feel lonely, or perhaps not quite admitting I was lonely again. This time so new it really was as if I had just been born. This time when I had passed 50 and had never been so young. And yet there were these moments in the happy old Mustang when I heard my twin brother Matthew’s voice describing what I saw, such as the new fiberglass farm silos that had come in while I was away from New England, as if I could not see the change from the old more picturesque silos of my childhood until the change had been categorized by that family I so carefully avoided.

And thinking of Matthew’s voice I was remembering when 30 years back Matthew had come to Atlanta to visit me while I was in the midst of an affair with a girl who looked to me like someone in an Italian movie and who had a husband who wanted me dead. I was in Atlanta because I had been drafted, but it was the maneuverable, corruptible peacetime army so, with considerable luck, instead of staying in a barracks I was living in a high-ceiling room I rented in a once majestic Peachtree Street house that had gone to seed. And I was working nearly full time for United Press. I was only 22, but already, and despite four years in the country’s most retrograde college, I had begun the life I planned, partly during summers in Europe but most notably in Cuba where I’d divided my time between life-risking adventure and sweetly slippery episodes with girls of the night. And now Atlanta.

A terrible time for Matthew to visit, for I was floating in what seemed to me the most crucial affair of my life. Matthew had been sent down by our mother for comfort, since his engagement was suddenly off. This was annoying, for I had problems of my own, and I was sure it would be hard on him, so often my rival, to see me with someone so appealing – this smart young woman Susan, this olive-skilled women Susan whose movements were so graceful. And she had a husband, who had been my friend for awhile and now wanted me dead.

With no chance this evening for a real rendezvous, and Matthew anyway in the way, she’d told the husband she was going out for cigarettes. She sped up from the Southside and over to Peachtree Street, where the air smelled like flowers. Over to the big old house on a rise above Peachtree where I rented this musty, very non-Army sort of room. She arrived in front of the old house in time for us to meet for moments at her car. I went out followed by Matthew.
She raised her arms from the wheel and stretched up and out, and I leaned down and in, and we kissed through the open car window. I introduced my twin brother, who was standing behind me. She handed me a love note. We kissed. She sped off.

"What a sweet smile," was what my brother had to say, and he was right and I realized I would have to fight hard to see more than he had seen.

And I wondered if I been romanticizing Susan into a plastic figure the way people in the family always did when confronted with people outside the family – as if all the real world people that they saw were only characters with fixed characteristics that our family members had created. Maybe I was not seeing her but seeing Audrey Heyburn in "Roman Holiday." Or someone with skin like hers on the Via Veneto, or a tawny girl from the summers in Sugar Hill – or Goddard's Anna Karina playing a lovely streetwalkers with angst – or Susan Strasburg
doing Jean Anouhi – or even Ellyssa. Not seeing someone but rather seeing someone that was like someone.

But this was the first time I could fully understand fucking as making love – fucking not upstairs in bars in Havana or in seedy hotel room in the Midwest or South, or with girls from the Tango Palace at the northern end of Times Square, or with that girl who became an obsession who wore a swim suit in the waiting area of a Roman brothel – not those times, those other 1950s times. But this time, the first time, in my room in this big old house on Peachtree Street. Something so new I did not have the word for it yet but it came to me years later. The word was intimacy.

Not only skin on skin when entering her but realizing her feet were naked too. Naked feet in play. Intimacy. This memory now as I drove in Vermont.

After orgasm, we tickled each other’s feet with our toes.

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