Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Aqua Mustang 69 – DOWN FROM THE NORTH

So Gillian and I got back to the city very late on a Sunday night, back from the lake house I had proudly borrowed for trysting purposes in Vermont, back from forays across the border into the stark, striking landscape of the White Mountains – rocky peaks, jagged cliffs, and beneath them failed farms side by side with the rambling landscaped estates of the summer people with their Anglo pretensions – my people when I was growing up in those places that nonetheless had beauty to them and grace, too, it seemed, and certainly excitement – scenes of first love and artistic and intellectual discovery as well as family scenes – these places that were really not my world now, never had been, I had decided by now, though it had been a shock to discover they still had this pull.

The time with Gillian, which, as planned, had indeed become a trysting time, though that had not been agreed at the start, it was also like an exciting vacation in alluring lands, as much as it was an almost guerilla like series of forays over the Vermont-New Hampshire border, across enemy lines, to find out – it seemed my life now depended on finding out – just what had happened in the deep past that had already brought so many of my peers to bad ends in the present. Who had done what to who, who had done what to me – though in my mind the dark scenes were, however much about the past I was learning, still imposed on scenes of summer days, the smell of pine, the long sweet-sad sounds of northern birds – which in turn would be covered by scenes of dire darkness, things I knew and things I was looking for – but the dark scenes transparent so that the summer scenes where still there – and the other way around too – the darkness in the happy days versions of this place, the happy days versions that still, though I knew better (and I had hardly been there for thirty years) still had a grip on me.

And there was something that seemed so very normal, the powerful sexuality that was somehow tied in with all versions.

I actually thought for what was not much more than a moment that it would continue, the happy times somehow overriding the rest and taking me, taking us, into the present.

The trip down from northern Vermont to the city could be made by a motivated driver in seven hours, but with zigzagging through New England it took us from mid-morning on the lake to after midnight in my one bedroom apartment on 25th Street. And this did not – during this long moment – seem to have any aspect of being an ending.

We get out of bed in a small musty room looking out on fog rising from Lake Champlain, and many hours later are back in bed in Chelsea. The first time she had ever seen my Chelsea apartment.

In the morning we were awakened by voices outside the window, which looked out from the fourth floor over an abandoned back garden and then over rooftops and wooden water towers all the say south nearly, it seemed, to the Battery. The voices were two Indian workers on a platform suspended from the roof of this six-story building. They were talking away in Hindi, and Gillian was translating in whispers – it was all about how to handle women, where and how to fuck them, how to make them want more, and then Gillian, this blonde girl, leaned out the window half-naked and shouted something up in Hindi, and they started making sounds like they were calling out to their heathen gods for protection.

That both of us knew a number of faraway worlds was what had brought us together – though we still hardly knew each other – and then it turned out we had once known fairly similar, and sometimes quite brutal, supposedly correct, supposedly upper class worlds, in which our stories seemed to mingle as we ourselves mingled.

But it was only for a moment that it looked like this would last. Late the following day she went back to her sublet over near First Avenue. Time, we both decided to be alone. The next morning she would be back at work, selling African fetish figures on the sidewalk just down from the Modern Art Museum, presumably wearing the high yellow boots I had bought her at a hardware store in the middle of Vermont. And thought I would go there to meet her, take coffee and bagels to her.

Even that was far more intimate than it could be in reality. Whatever had been there was over.

Never again, I told myself, as if several decades had been covered in this brief trysting time. And I was starting to think that romantic despair had never lived up to its reputation.

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