Friday, October 17, 2014

My Agamemnon

I think one reaches a point where one does not know how they feel anymore. It is when all emotion has been engorged and vomited out and there comes a time of exhausted numbness. This is what has happened with me. Although I do feel.... and feel so much. Only I do not know what the point is of these feelings any longer. If they matter. Or most importantly, if these feelings are even returned as intensely. Because then, why am I bothering to feel this? Because, how can it be real if it is not returned?

In which case, I must exorcise it out of my soul. I must not continue to delude myself. Because it may be that I have been under some kind of altered state of emotion. You see, if there is no equivalent return of this force of energy, then I am deluding myself. And I think I have experienced enough life by now to realize that playing the fool is really a waste of time.

The problem is, what do I do with the emotions, left residual and unexplained? It is obvious, I know. I must examine them. Because any good student of psychology would know that if it is experienced it was because it came from somewhere deep and personal. Which means, I must resolve this within.

False heroes are the true enemy. That shining armor is easy to dazzle your reason. And by now I am rather too cynical to be lost in some fairy circle.

If Bran has chosen to go on without me, than I must go on. I must and I shall. I will. I will never surrender to defeat, no matter how much my heart might ache. The pain only makes me stronger. At least this is what I tell myself. Like a mantra. Because I must. If he has chosen to live his life without the faith of what he lead me to believe in.... then I must let him go. I must survive this. I know I can. I have already lived through so much loss. And even losses far worse than losing the poignant intensity of this kind of passion that I have known with him. This passion that has equaled to none other I have ever known in my life.... yes. But to measure that against life and death, mother and child.... well....

So what is my deep and personal issue within that I must resolve as it connects to Bran? Of course, we know it is obvious. Electra. He is my Agamemnon. I still long for father. I still ache for something that I never had. So what do I do? It is too late for me.... my time to be a daughter is long past. So I must learn to let this need go. Because I am not the first person to have to live a life bereft of father. Bereft of parental nurture. It is just a casualty of life. And life is cruel and unjust, we know. Life never promises to be fair. It just is. And we must take it. Or leave it. And leave it we all will one day, by our own hand or by its natural course or someone else's hand.

You see, my attraction to him was tied up with this vacancy inside my soul. And I think I have often abandoned my own reasoning and independence because of this infantile craving that makes me revert to childish and repressed needs. Or suppressed. Because I don't need him, or anyone. I don't. Nobody really does. We are born alone and we die alone. Our lives are our own experiences. Commitments are only romantic notions and exist only in our temporal state. Our true commitment is to ourselves.

I think he has chosen to let me go. He says it was to see to his kids, his life, his wife. She called him, something about an illness she hadn't told him about. I know it is serious. So I understand his need on principle. How can I fault him? I don't. There were medical tests she has had to undergo. He flew back to be with her through it all. MRI's and some procedure more serious.

Like an open hand that lets go of a valuable locket and lets it fall into the water. It falls from my hand metaphorically, as if from some bridge in Amsterdam, it drops into a canal. The chain and the heart that it is connected to, falls to be submerged, drowned. I will go on.... I cannot write anymore tonight. Maybe tomorrow.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Electra's Dictionary, Chapter 31 hunan-niwedio

                                             more representation in the portrayal of themes

When I first began writing as Electra, it was for the purpose to define identity because I see it as a source; the seed of where it all began.

But often, I feel like Don Quixote, delusional. Today I don't want to dwell on whether or not this one or that one was my father. It is almost irrelevant to the argument in some ways. This struggle over meaning. This struggle. This conflict. I know that none of this would have mattered to me at all had I not been desperate enough to call a suicide hotline when I was twenty-one. And the years that dragged me to that point. The rejection of father. From my father. I tried to replace something with something else. Like Freud’s thesis. Today's modern books on the young feminine psyche outline a fragile ego, as portrayed by Pipher's Ophelia complex. A neatly sketched picture. The early formation of ego. In many ways I am a stereotype. There is nothing that unique here in my head. But that was never what I needed to prove. Maybe in some ways in order to stand out as individual, yes. But not to really rally, as some present day Joan of Arc. All I ever wanted was to just fit in.

My own theory is: if it is this important to me and I am not all that unique, than I would not be alone in these themes I obsess over and dissect. Maybe this is really not all just for me. I am definitely driven. Driven crazy. Over this. It has a hold on me that won't let me go and I have no choice but to follow this through to the end. So follow me. I dare you. Because you might just see you in me. And even if you don't, you might see something else that answers something in you and your need to follow it.

Without an avatar, where do you hang a self-image? I mean this in a way, like a title of Self. Like when I first watched my daughter begin to wonder who she is in her place in the world and I watched her need to define herself through her earliest choices. Her favorite color. Her favorite imaginary characters. And then, later, when she asked me over and over if she was good enough to be an artist, or good enough to write, or good enough to be ….anything. And it was like pushing the graphite across the paper and the graphite took control, the way it should. As artists, we simply dust off what is already there. Like an archaeologist, as I have said. It forms itself and our hands are the vehicle. But my daughter is her own graphite and I chose to never force the hand. I wanted to watch what would happen on her own. And without the limitations I had. The manipulating chains of limitations.

I saw it happen and it was invaluable to me to watch her learn this. It heeled something that no therapy ever could have. I got to watch it happen slowly through time as she discovered self.

Electra really only became my avatar in full dimension when I caught on to this. Watching self born in her. Being cast off from a mold forces you to invent yourself. And it isn't always the choice to do this. At first, the early inventions were reactionary. Basic survival. And things like taking sharp objects to do self harm were one of those reactions. And a form of basic survival, as ironic as this may sound. In the silence and in silence scream. Hidden with no voice in rooms in my mind.

And no, I don't condone self harm. And this is why I didn't want to force the hand. I had to let go of her, step back and watch her, like those first steps alone. As mothers we must let go and always, every day, more and more. We are forced to act the opposite of what we emotionally fear. But then, letting go of her was not really my choice. It was chosen by my ex-husband. Hanging a concept of self on your child has devastating consequences. But I wasn't ready to let go of her. Especially, because I knew I was on the brink of discovering something that has something to do with the meaning of self.

As I paint my mural of Demeter, as she mourns over the pomegranate, symbolizing Persephone.... I am releasing this. It marks a hallway in my cerebral passages. And once I put this down, I can go on to the next level, like the levels of purgatory.

But the Self is still chaos. It is elusive to me.

If I give up now.... only I think it is really driving me mad. Which is why I write this self-involved journey. If I am honest, maybe something really worthy can come of all of this. Even if it emerges out of me like a tiny whisper and the chance of being heard is actually impossible.... because I hide. Because I have no voice. And this is why Bran is so necessary, because he gives ….Electra voice.

I can do it through him....
because, before there was silence
.and then there was Orpheus.

I know that what I confess here --may be It is not as if I close the pages of my diary and tuck it in a drawer. I know he sometimes reads my blog. But there is the need to pour it out and I seem to be more honest on here than when I just do it on a piece of paper. I say here what I don't say out loud. Like the voiceless things I say to him in the dark. I guess there is the part of me that wants him to know but also hopes he won't.

I don't want to need him. I am not someone who clings. But I see there is something I need to learn.... in him.

And I think now about talking to my marriage counselor about this. But I don't want to admit to this. She is not my confessor. And I wonder if I am just trying to give merit to something sinful in order to deliver myself. But I need him, I know I do. Because before I was ….losing all definition. And losing the belief in caring.

Is it delusional to need to keep the faith of some tired old cause because it gives you an anchor that keeps you from flying out of orbit? He gives me voice. He is Electra's voice. I can express these things I never could have before. On his stage Electra comes to life. And even if he went away forever, I would be OK. Electra would still exist.

Because I know he will never be able to get her out of him now either.

But I don't need anybody. And if he leaves my life forever, then maybe he was only ever a vehicle too. The hands that shaped what was already there by dusting off the chaos.

I don't know what I am going to do. Maybe nothing. And maybe I am full of shit. No, I most definitely am.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Electra's Dictionary, Chapter 30

On the plane going home I have that Sinéad O'Connor song stuck in my head, those lines: this is the last day of our acquaintance/we will meet later in somebody's office.... I am sad on the plane going home.

Thinking about what faces me when I land in Detroit. The void that seems as if it will engulf me. I feel it grow inside with each mile. I try not to think about him.

Then stare into the darkness from the airplane window that looks into the emptiness of space. I don't care what I'm looking at. I know it's taking me away from where I wish I still was.

I got lucky, I had an aisle seat but nobody came to sit next to me. But is it really luck to get an unexpected window seat when it feels the destination I am being carried to is breaking my heart and maybe the distraction of a passenger beside me might have let me fool myself for awhile.

I am not good at 'good-byes'. I have never been. I would assume just say nothing, just walk away.

I say to him the night before,
let me take a taxi. Let's say 'good-bye' here.” Because it would be easier to leave alone and the place we had lived together for a week.... as if it were only just for a few hours. I would rather pretend not to care. I do not want to deal with pain. I don't like pain.

But he says,
no, Beth, I'm taking you to the airport.”


But he just looks at me as if I make no sense, as if my question is ridiculous, he says,
I'm going to bring you to the gate.”

But that is what I didn't want.

I feel irrational. It feels unfair.

But I know I can't leave Dean, even if Bran considered leaving his family. It has something to do with a promise and a commitment and years of history. It has something to do with knowing that –- I don't do good-byes well. And I guess-- love. But it is a different love. It is not the kind that inspires poetry and not the kind that fills your soul. And, although, I pretend to be hard, I'm not. I'm not able to be cruel. I can't be ungrateful. And I know that Dean needs me. Even though he would never say it. He is unable to express or show.... those things I deeply crave. And thinking these thoughts-- I feel so guilty. It is useless to long for the moon.

But then I wonder when I will see Bran again. And the fear. There is always that.

I didn't want to love him. Didn't plan to fall in love. I didn't think I could. Anymore. I long accepted that ….old romantics turn into cynics.

I take a taxi from the airport, knowing Dean is still at work. And when I step in the door I want to burst into tears. The place resembles a fraternity house.... and almost trip over a beer bottle that rolls across the floor when I walk in. I have no choice but to start cleaning before I even put down my backpack because of the smell. I follow the trail of disaster to the bedroom. And in the process of cleaning, I find my phone to charge it, it is completely dead. And then later, I step into the shower and stand there under the pouring water trying to void my mind. I stand there a long time. It is like I am washing off a week of illusions and returning back to real life. Returning from some kind of fugue.

After the shower, I face the mountain of dishes piled in the sink and piled everywhere else. I am exhausted from traveling and my heavy thoughts, but I need the therapy of cleaning. It is the guilt that is also returning.

I go to bed early, too exhausted to think or move and fall instantly asleep. It is some time in the night that I wake up to noises. They scare me. I am disoriented. It takes awhile to figure out where I am. I had been dreaming. I hear retching. I get up and find Dean on the floor of the bathroom vomiting. I see he is drunk.

Are you OK?” because what do you ask in moments like this?

He doesn't look up. His face looks mottled blue and red. He grunts,
huh...?” I see he has missed the toilet in places. There is vomit everywhere.



Dean, I'm home,” I say stating the obvious but wanting to get a reaction.

I thought you were coming home tomorrow,” he mumbles mostly incoherently.

No, today.”

He puts his head on the seat of the toilet. He looks pathetic. He starts to snore there. I find something to clean him off with then drag him to bed. He lands face first into the mattress.

I go sleep in the other room.

But it is hours later of being awake ….because now I can't fall back to sleep. I get up remembering my phone and unplug it from the wall. There is a message from Bran that says: call me when you get this, I miss you.
But while I've been away there are problems with Jamie. The next week back in the real world are filled with the debris of my daughter's problems. I feel guilty for having been away. It was only one week but it seems so much can go wrong in just a few days.

And then, much worse, my symptoms return. The worst kind. The worst pain. The kind that makes me want to die. I think I am being punished.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chapter 29; Beth ydw I, pwy ydw I? I am Electra and this is the dictionary

                                                               Faery in chains

It is only Electra's dictionary that provides some foundation to who I am. What I am. It is all that I have and is where I go to piece together some semblance of Self. Within a well, within a hell. Within a cell. My inner cell. From thoughts and words and darkness and through my art into the search for self. Celf. A dictionary. And legend. Hidden in language that mark as legend. I play with words that I choose to reveal myself in. It is hidden in language that stands as code for reasons that are.... written on the walls. It is a riddle.

No matter where I go, this confusion over Self is always with me. Always and everywhere. And has always been. It is a conflict within the self; a struggle to find some inner peace. A struggle for identity. And to exist.

Without a name. Beth who is What. Because I have no name. I am Electra.

Bran wants to know things about me as I want to know things about him. And so he asks me more things about me; about Electra....

Why should the proof of identity, or origin, be so important?

I grew up believing I was the bane of my father's existence because he said I was. Often. I knew he hated me. But he loved my older sister. I saw that he could be nice. He could be kind. He could be affectionate-- but not with me.

Bran asks me,
when you say your father believed you weren't his, how did you know this?”

Because he used to call me 'the nigger-baby'.....”

I had to stay under the radar and be invisible growing up. Don't make trouble and don't excel. I couldn't bring attention to myself good or bad. Which is how I learned to hide.

I want to know. But I don't want to know. Because I don't believe I can handle the answer. So I stay in limbo. Only I'm getting too old to play “hide and go seek”. I should have grown up. By now. I'm still hiding from the truth.

I thought it was enough to just be me. Because I don't need anybody. I am me and I am mine. I belong to me, and I am fine. But things fall out. Sometimes without warning, they fall out. I know that repression will do this. As much as I try to deny that it matters.... I have stared into my reflection searching.

I wonder often if either of them really ever knew.... I don't know.


In the dark I walk over to him. There are sounds that come from outside. They come through the open window. He pulls me to sit inside his legs. And with my eyes closed, I think, erecting a wall around my heart…. But wanting to remember all of this.... and I think about our day.... the cathedral that had once inspired Monet-- we saw today. There is something strange about seeing something so old. It makes you wonder and think about how fleeting we all are here. It makes me feel strange....and sad.... and, later, walking, looking at new sights, holding his hand.... walking in step with him.... and all through this, all day, there was more of those silences when I knew we were both thinking the same things. That we are here with each other but were, in our heads, back at our separate lives. Because time is closing in. We have to prepare for the inevitability of what we always expected was going to come. But we don't talk about this. It is there but we don't talk about it.

And close to him in the dark, the drum of his heartbeat. The texture of his skin.... I will miss. The soft hair there. How it feels against my lips. His smell…. But we don't talk, he wraps my legs around him and presses me to him as he enters my sex. He pulls me close. We climax together. I said, I love you, when it happened ….but not out loud. Just with my lips. And he called Electra. And other things I don't understand. Those words that sound like incantations.

And then later he says,
you need to find out who you are.... I want to know.”

Why? Is it so interesting to you?” because I don't understand this either, why he should be so interested?

Yes, it is. I think ….it would make a great story.”


You see.... that day in the office when the therapist first suggested the theory of being someone else's daughter.... an amazing thing happened to me. It was like someone had opened the bird cage and I could fly out. I could reject him. Instead of being the one who had been rejected. And I could fly away. And the moment I realized who could be my father.... there was such a rush. Because I remember. She told me once. When I was five. My mother. She did. She told me who it was. But what should I believe? She was such a liar. Only he is just a face in a history book. And as far out of reach as God. Notorious and monumental. And my mother loved him all her life. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Electra's Dictionary; Chapter 28

I watch French scenery roll by as Bran drives, keeping my thoughts neutral. I lean my head against the side of the window and look out. The interior of Bran's car has a distinct smell. It reminds me of the way my grandfather's car always smelled; a kind of musky, dusty, sunny smell. For awhile I write in my journal because I want to capture some of this. For me, it is better than pictures. So I write-- my passing, random thoughts.... We have not spent a lot of time in his car. When we have shopped for food in Paris for the flat we walked. So again, as I look around at the inside of his car, I think of how many conversations we have had over the phone with him sitting in here. And as I think of this, I look at what he must look at as we speak; the details of his dashboard or the shape of the windshield edges, the maps stuffed in the visor, the car stereo that has interesting buttons and dials. Those things that you stare at mindlessly as you talk to someone's disembodied voice.

The car stereo plays some kind of music—Bran's music-- that I can't identify. He has diverse taste in music, which I like. I like how it takes me out of my head, and that it is nothing like anything I have ever listened to. And as I listen and watch the scenery go by, the music starts to paint a picture in my thoughts. I start to see a story that I want to write. The scenery, the music, the smell of his car, it all adds to it and I get lost in this for awhile.

I love the architecture I see as we go and the cities that we pass. The street signs, the advertisements, the landscape; I am stimulated by all this. It is new and different to me. I look at the faces of the people we see; their expressions and the clothes they wear; the things they carry; the bikes; the cars.... He was right, it was good that we left Paris for awhile; it is good to get away with him. There is a kind of excited feel as we drive further away.... It almost feels as if we are running away together. It feels euphoric. And also, almost, for me, too much so. It makes me feel.... sea sick. Like going up too high on the Ferris wheel. Of course it is because I am afraid of this. How I feel with him. What I feel. The thrill and rush that is always there. And I don't know, it makes me wonder if I could handle feeling this all the time.... if we were together. And it makes me wonder too why now I don't run away. Like I always do. And always have done. And why, with him, I can't.... disentangle myself from.... this seaweed hold on me.

He remarks at scenery we pass and says,
it looks like that artist's work we saw.”

And I see what he means when I look at what he points to. The slope of the land, the shape of the house, the trees along the horizon.

We had gone to see an exhibition one day. The same day we had gone to the Louvre. Looking at art with him.... may be my favorite of all things to do with him; observe and listen to his thoughts as we look. We are drawn to the same kinds of works. But I guess that is no surprise because this is what first drew us together. He saw my work first before we met. That is like being handed the legend.

But then I say,
Bran, I thought you told me-- when we first met, you said that you and Clair had been together for ten years, like me and Dean. Remember? But before-- when we were talking this morning, you said that you were only together a short time before she got pregnant.”

I look at him.
He looks back at me,
well.... yes and no.”

.... but it can't be both.”

Well, yes it can,” he tells me. He does not continue right away. He concentrates on navigation; checking Google map as he drives --and I wonder if he does this to stall sometimes. He says, “I knew Clair from the office of one of the places that I used to do a lot of business with.... I was with Anna still--”

Anna? --the woman you told me about that you saw recently?”

He nods,
so, initially, when Clair showed an interest in me, I had to turn her down.... I was actually surprised when she approached me. I never really noticed her that way. Maybe because I was always more preoccupied with Anna.... anyway, so what happened.... Anna and I broke up, but it only lasted for a few months....”

And during that time you hooked up with Clair.”

He nods,
someone told her Anna moved out. So I got a call from her one day to console me.... and we met up and went out a few times....”

Hmm,” is all I say.

He says,
I didn't ever lie to her what my feelings were for Anna, Beth. She knew I was still....”

I am still trying to figure out the math, so I say,
so, ten years?”

By the time it was really over with Anna.... it was five years that Clair and I had known each other....”

It carried on that long? And every time you and Anna split up there was Clair waiting in the wings?”

He does not answer this. He rubs his beard uncomfortably and concentrates on the road.

So what finally ended things with Anna?” I ask.

I found her with my best friend.”

He says this simply but the weight of it looms heavy. I watch scenery for awhile and fill in the rest for myself. But then I have to ask,
so how soon after did Clair get pregnant?”

He makes a frustrated sound,
I remember it was May when I …. showed up that morning, unexpectedly, at my friend's house and I remember that only because it was the day after her birthday.... When Clair got pregnant it was the end of August....” It is awhile before he says anything more and when he does, he looks at me, glancing away from the road for a second, “I know what you're thinking and I suspect you're right, but.... I have two amazing kids that I would never trade for anything.”

I look out the window again and blindly stare at the moving sights and don't say anything. The wind blows through the car windows that are down as we drive, the air is warm. He reaches his left hand to me and without words, slides his fingers through mine and holds my hand for a long time in silence until he needs to use it again.

I notice when we arrive in Rouen that the streets are somewhat narrow and busy and I wonder where we will find a place to park and ask him.

He says,
I arranged with the hotel. They have a garage. I've stayed here before.”

Oh, did you have a credit here too?” I ask.

He gives me an ironic smile.

We go down a narrow street that twists around and then pull through a narrow entrance way. We go inside to register. He says,
let's just put our things down in our room and head out to the Cathedral. We can take a tram.”

OK,” I follow him.

It is a small hotel, pretty and modest. The furnishings everywhere are not new but rather antique and quaint. I like the sounds of our footsteps as we walk towards our room and the way that our voices carry down the narrow hallway. I watch him open the door.

The room has pretty windows with lace curtains. I go to look out and see the view is of the street below. It is a modern city I see, populated with its own rich present day culture. But then, I think about the medieval history of this city of Normandy.... and try to imagine what I see without the modern details.... try to imagine people on horseback going down these streets and the story of those lives long ago lived here; the politics and the wars and the people like King John and King Philip II it obviously lingers here in affected details of brown paint to suggest the medieval style of a past long gone.... perhaps as a source of identity.

There is a crystal chandelier that hangs from the ceiling near the bed. The room is painted a pale blue-gray and the bedding matches, along with the Louis XIV chairs that flank a small, round, gilded table. I notice the bathroom has a nice bathtub.

And then he says,
ready?” and he takes my hand and we go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Electra's dictionary; Bran and Beth; Electra's Dictionary Chapter 27

The times he goes to call his family, I go downstairs to the courtyard and write in my journal. Or go for long walks. Which is what I need. It lets me reestablish the distance I still need.

What are you writing about in your journal all the time?” Bran asks me when I come back after one of these times. He watches me close it.

Thoughts,” I say.

Legendary? be later transferred into your blog....?”

I have been using Bran's laptop to read messages from my life back in Detroit. Messages from Dean, which have been impersonal and short; dealing mostly with money concerns. It has been a blessing and a curse to not have my phone. I miss my daughter. It has been strange not being able to communicate with her frequently. I feel conflicted and strange; to miss her but to not want to leave Paris. When I mention Jamie, Bran insists I use his phone to call her. Only I wish she could be here with us. I wish she could know Bran and be a part of ….this secret life we share. This life we have when we are together. And I find that I wish.... we could stay in Paris and never leave.

Tell me something about your mother,” I ask in the morning as we are waking up.

He says,
hmmm,” and rubs his eyes in a drowsy state, “she liked to write, like you. You remind me of her. ”

Do I?”

Yes. There is something about you in your manner that she had, just a sense about you. I noticed it the first time we met at the exhibition. Remember that day?” he asks. And I think of the first time I saw him; how he was the tallest person in the room, the immediate attraction and how he made me laugh. He says, “you were wearing that striped scarf....” I feel him kiss the top of my head.

Tell me something else about her.”

Well.... she made the best apple pie,” he says thoughtfully. And then he says, “she used to have this funny habit of calling me--” and he says something in his language. Then he says, “which means, 'my little man'. But she called me that all my life, even after I was grown.”

How cute!” I laugh trying to think of him little. Then feel an unfounded pang of regret that I never got to see that. I would have liked to have known him then. And wonder what it would have been like to have grown up knowing him and how different everything would have been. After awhile I say, “you don't like to talk about your past.”

No, it's not that. It's just so long ago. Don't you also feel that now as you get older? It is close yet far away,” his voice is still husky from sleep. I am going to miss waking up with him.... I turn my head into his side and press my face into his bare skin and wish I could stop time from moving from this moment.

What was your father like?” I ask muffled by his body.

He is thoughtful before he says,
like me, I would say. And he was also tall. I don't know if I look more like my father or my mother. He was a scholar, he liked to read about history. He was more forthright than I am though. He could put you in your place and slice you to ribbons with his words without ever raising his voice. But he was also funny. He liked practical jokes.”

What about your siblings? Tell me about them.”

I feel the vibration of his laugh,
why so many questions this morning?”

Because there is so much about you that I don't know.... and so much about your life that I will never know.... I know....”

He makes a sound that is frustrated and indulgent at the same time. And after consideration, he sighs,
as kids, my brother and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood and egg people's houses. We would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday while everyone was asleep.”

The crack of dawn? That's pretty ambitious. ”

We were a deadly team. I followed his lead into trouble every time. Only, I think my sister was worse, especially if she had her friends around. They were always so wild. But I really missed her when she left home. We were a close family.”

There is something in his voice. It has a warm timbre that moves. I can feel that longing sadness. It is contagious. But I love listening to him speak; it is like listening to bedtime stories; it is lyrical and lulls the mind into believing you are safe. And right now.... it seems so impossible that I am going to be four thousand miles away from here in just a few days and will not get to hear him ….or feel him... this close. I close my eyes as I listen to him and try to ignore the ache that has begun to surface. I had no illusions when I came here to Paris. I tried not to think about what would happen. It was a blind faith leap into a new set of emotional variables that I am not sure I was fully prepared for.

I move up to look into his eyes and without planning to, it falls from my lips.

I say,
I am going to miss you,” my throat tightens painfully and I go hoarse. My eyes sting and begin to pool. I feel a tear escape and spill. It rolls down my face without permission. I hold myself together and watch his face to try to read him as I try to master control over my emotions. He stares intently into me, wiping the tear with his thumb. And then kisses me. Long and deep. Desperate and consuming. When he stops and looks back at me, I see that his eyes are red and that his lashes have clumped together. I notice a wet trail. And fall into the whirlpool of the shifting planks of mud and moss.

They gauge his moods, the moss unearthed. They are kaleidoscopes, engined by whatever element induces mood rings to change color. They camouflage and change and reflect light. Mud and meadow. And as I look into them and fall, I think of what Jean Paul said. That Bran is in love with me and that I doubt it.... and think of how we have never said it. Only I know why we don't. Why we can't. And why we shouldn’t.

Bran says,
it won't be forever, you know that. We're working together now, so we'll have to see each other. I'll get us more clients.... I have to be in the US next month for business. I can stop in Detroit or you can meet me.”

But that isn't what I meant.... It is this flat.... which has become home with him. Even as I know and knew that our time here was only ever ephemeral.

Before I know what I mean to say, I blurt out,
but I'm sure you can't wait to go home. You must miss your family.”

Beth, don't,” and the hurt in his voice punishes me.

It is the fact that our time is coming to an end. I need to remind myself of the reality of our situation.

I say,
can I ask you something?”

He says,
what do you want to ask me?”

Why did you wait so long to start a family?”

By now he has told me many things about his children. They are twins; Crystal and Dylan. They are five. I know things about them that he has told me. Things like, Dylan likes football and archery, even though he isn't old enough to have a bow and arrow, he likes to play a video game that simulates this. Crystal has an inclination to piano because she spends hours playing with the keys and her favorite color is magenta. And I also know, though he doesn't say, that Crystal is a daddy's girl and sense she holds a very soft spot in his heart.

You mean because I am old enough to be their grandfather?”he laughs.

Well, only if you started very early! --but, no, really, Bran, why did you?”

He is staring up at the ceiling and thinking about what to say. He strokes my hair before he begins,
because it didn't happen until then. I guess I was looking for something.... and it just never appeared,” he says this simply. He shrugs, “and then it happened unexpectedly. We had only been seeing each other a short while when Clair got pregnant and I figured it was about time.”

There is so much that begs the question. Or questions. But some things are best to remain ignorant of. I keep my thoughts to myself and decide to respect his past without prodding in that place.

But then he says,
there was someone. Before Clair.”

Because this is what I didn't want to know. Where I didn't want to delve. I feel myself holding my breath.

It was an unhealthy relationship and lasted longer than it should have.... it took me a long time to get over her.”

And did you ever get over her?” I ask.

He breaths in very deep and slowly lets it out. He says,
yes. But only recently. I saw her, by chance somewhere....”


At a local food store one day,” I feel his body go tense, “we said hello. It was weird.”


Because I saw what she had become --or maybe what she always was ….and maybe it is because I could be objective that I could finally see.... her. Finally after all these years. She told me she was divorced and....” he shrugs and makes a sound of disgust, “I'm glad I finally saw her for who she is and thank God I never married her.”

What was it that you saw?” I ask.

Her ego. And her greedy nature.”

I can tell how he says this that whatever image he has conjured from his memories is flooded with repulsion and bitterness.

When was it that you saw her?”I ask.

About five or six months before I met you.”

I think about this and after awhile I say,
'close yet far away',” repeating what he said about looking back. And it hangs there between us for awhile, “yes, Bran.... I do know what you mean, as I get older. I do see that. Even as it feels, sometimes, like you can touch a memory, as if it is that close and tactile ….but then suddenly, like an old yellowed photograph-- it feels like ancient history ….and then you wonder how you got to be this old....” And then I say, “do you think that is what it will be like one day between us? How it was when you saw her?”

I don't know why I say this. Some wicked part of me. It is the self-sabotaging impulse that always takes over for me.

Beth....” he pulls me to him roughly and then I can't breath because his arms are so tight around me. I can feel my bones being crushed. Only I don't want to be released.

But I knew this week would end, I knew this.

And then my emotions change on me and suddenly I feel like I need to escape from him because it feels like I am suffocating. These emotions. It is too much. I start to push him away but, again, he says, “Beth,” and comforts me in his arms like I am a child. He strokes my hair and skin as he rocks me and it makes me cry. He speaks to me in his language saying things I don't understand. The strange words that sound so beautiful. He says,

don't cry, Beth. Let's drive somewhere. I don't want us to waste this day and regret it later. Let's go to Rouen and spend the night there.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Electra's Dictionary Chapter 26


Jean Paul says to me,
There is something between you and Bran, yes?”

We are walking outside in an area that he calls the Promenade just behind the building where the offices are. The Promenade is shaded and has the view of the landscape; thick with old trees and hedges, topiary and rose bushes. We stand in the stone archway looking out.

I don't look at him. I say,
what do you mean?” and then think about the two young women Jean Paul assigned to show Bran around the building on a tour of it. Instinctively, I suspected a ploy and glared at Bran when Jean Paul took my hand with familiarity to drag me away. Bran just shrugged at me as he was dragged off in the opposite direction.

Jean Paul turns back to me. I feel his eyes studying my face. It makes me uncomfortable. I shake the weight of my hair to fall over it.

How long have you known Bran, mon granola?” he asks.

I decide to study his face instead of answer his question. I look directly into his eyes. They are very dark, and, like liquid, like ink, but warm; they match his hair and lashes and blend with his olive complexion. I can see how his eyes must have won him many conquests, even with the age lines around them which only seems to sharpen and enhance all the angles of his face. Yes, I see he is handsome but I am unmoved.... I move back a step needing space.

You know he is married?” he asks me now and raises one smooth dark brow and looks intently, “and has children.”

I smile slowly because I have to fight the jab he has induced,
I am married and also a mother.” I start walking towards the steps that lead down to the stone walkway and feel him rush to follow me. We are halfway down the length of the walk that leads to the grass and I ask, “what do you want? To do business with me or to find some amusement?” and only after I have said this do I realize that I could be putting our negotiations in jeopardy. And I think: fuck it. Nothing is worth that much.

I would rather know what you want,” he says in that slippery manner that is beginning to make my skin crawl.

How long have you known Bran?” I ask now, “you said, the other day, 'a long time', or something like that.”

At least fifteen years. Probably more.”

You know his wife?”

I met her once.”

I don't say anything. Even though I want to ask. I don't want to ask. I don't want to know. And I know better than to be sucked into this game with him. Finally I say,
you knew him before he was married. You knew him when he was....”

He laughs,
a ladies' man?”

I look at him with what must have seemed like open disgust because I didn't have a second to edit my face,
I really don't see that about Bran.”

And at this Jean Paul laughs very loud. It almost echoes. Then he says,
your eyes tell me everything about you, mon granola, even though you think your lunettes keeps them hidden.”

Mon granola?

While wanting to escape Jean Paul, I am distracted by a little bird trying to wrestle a tiny branch.... Then turn to look towards the office building hoping to see Bran when a handful of people begin to walk towards us. Instead, I see one of the women who had dragged him off.

I say,
can we go back? I can't take the sun this time of day.” It is a good excuse because the sun is strong over us and my skin is already starting to show signs of being burned.

I should have known, of course, mon granola, but there is un belvedere up ahead,” and points to a gazebo.

I shake my head and begin to walk back towards the building.

Please tell me that I have not offended you,” he says now as he catches up to me.

But I don't feel like talking. I head back towards the doors we came from. We are already upstairs and weaving through the office corridors when he says,
I was only hoping to get to know you better.”

But I don't answer this either.

He says,
you interest me, mon granola. There is something different about you. I see what it is.... why he's in love with you.”

He has touched a nerve now. I have to stop because I feel upset. It is making me dizzy. Hoping to hide this I say,
how would you know that?-- he would not have told you that-- and please, why are you calling me that?”

So he has not told you? I can see he is. But you doubt it....” He stares at me now, invading through my eyes, he bores into my head. I pull back when he touches me. He puts his hand on my cheek and touches my hair, “granola, because I think that you would taste like milk and honey.”

I have nothing ready in my mind to reply so I say nothing, too distracted and feel relieved to see Bran stepping out from the glass office doors towards us. There is a look of concern in Bran's eyes when he sees me, then turns to Jean Paul with wariness. I keep my voice low and whisper,
are we almost done here? Can we go?”

He looks at Jean Paul again, and whispers back to me,
is something wrong?”

I start to say something but don't get to finish when Jean Paul says,
how is your wife these days, Bran? You haven't mentioned her or the children at all.”

Bran smiles. Openly forced. He looks like he has swallowed a mouthful of razor blades leaving him with indigestion. He says to me, looking at me,
excuse me,” and I can see the sharp pin points of the green in his eyes standing out in anger like live wires. He moves towards Jean Paul now and says, “you mind?” and now he is looking right at Jean Paul. I see him put his hand on the sleeve of Jean Paul's tailored suit and forcibly pull him towards a window that is far from where I can hear. It is a short conversation and I watch it happen.

I believe that I know Bran well enough to know his moods, but I have not seen this one of his. I watch Jean Paul smile up at him and take a step back when Bran leans towards him. There is a look of raw surprise in Jean Paul's face as Bran speaks. And then, as I watch, I see some understanding reached between them. I watch as their expressions become serene and hard to read. When Bran returns to where I am, he is visibly still upset. I see his eyes are still bright and seem to glisten with a sharpness. He puts his hand on my arm and says,
let's go. We can 'e-sign' the paperwork. I think we're done here.”


He buys me more flowers before we get home. They are lilies and irises. I fill a vase with water and put them in.

Do you want to go out or stay in?”he asks me, watching me with the flowers. “You look so nice, we should go out somewhere.”

Tell me what you said to Jean Paul.”

He makes a face,
I don't want to talk about Jean Paul. I would rather talk about something else, if you don't mind, Beth.”

Like what? That soon our week will be over and....” but I don't finish this.

He says,
tell me about Electra, I want to know.”

What do you want to know?”

Electra and father.... I was just thinking about it recently. Those things you write about in your blog. Your confusion over identity, because you don't know who your father was.... and I just wondered.... am I a part of that neurosis.... and also.... if it turned out that the one you call 'Hitler' was your father, could you handle it?”

I am surprised he has figured this much out. I hadn't expected he had got this far. I want to change the subject but the emotion of his eyes compel me; they master; they are poet's eyes. They are beautiful. 
I say,
I don't know.... you know why, don't you?”

Because he rejected you ….and physically abused you.”

Yes, but....what else?”

He does not answer right away. He studies me. He puts his hand up to my face and touches my skin. He says,
you know Jean Paul just wants you for himself and how can I blame him?”

I shake my head because his subject change has fucked with my thoughts,
Bran, I was degraded by my father.... because he believed I was this vile, illegitimate, mulatto bastard.... if I were to find out that it was all such a lot of bullshit.... I mean, to be rejected by him, this heinous person who is my complete antithesis, that....was actually really my father? That.... would be the worst insult. The worst irony. I don't know if I could survive that.”

What do you mean?”

I don't know,” I say, but he looks at me strangely and I realize that I have said too much. “Never mind. I don't know,” I repeat stupidly.

He looks like he wants to say something but is not sure what.

But then he gets a text from Jean Paul asking if we could do a mock up for a bathing suit ad using 'Wavegirl'. Without the hole of course. I feel a stab inside.

It is only that, this image is significant to me. It gave me some kind of courage when I could have given up. I have rolled that thing up and moved it everywhere. I never transferred the original painting onto canvas but kept it on the cheap, shitty material I did it on because it was all I could afford at the time. So, you see, it is more a symbol to me. It is a part of my soul. Even though the figure is flat and has no depth, except for the giant hole in her abdomen, because that was significant to the emptiness of my life at the time.

I am quiet when Bran tells me this. I stare out the window thinking. And then I am no longer in Paris. My mind is back in New York. First in the room with my dying father just after my mother died. Then in another room when Jamie was still an infant. Her father shouting threats at me.... and later in a court room signing away my parental rights... I am in places I don't want to be ….but from where Wavegirl was born.

It is awhile before I realize that Bran is watching me. His eyes that compel trespass. It is a long while before either of us says anything. I am wrestling within. I finally say,
I didn't realize you shared that image with him.”

He is standing by the window on the other side. He takes a breath and shrugs,
Beth, you can say 'no'”

But you would think that I was being immature. Or maybe vain,” I say looking into his eyes to see his first reaction to what I just said.

No,” he shakes his head. He does not pull his eyes away. “I'll tell Jean Paul we will come up with something else.”

I turn to look back out the window.

And then I begin to think about my father, or the person who I grew up believing was my father. He was in advertising, a successful ad-man. On Madison Avenue. How funny to find myself in his world now. Selling my soul. Maybe it's in the blood? But he wasn't an artist, my mother was, he just sold space. Selling and money was his whole life. He made lots of money but in the end he lost it all; he died penniless. I think again of loss. Of the giant hole in the abdomen of Wavegirl. And then suddenly I find myself thinking of Andy Warhol; the man who sold the art world.... and the significance of the soup can, the ironic commentary on the triviality of life, repeated images of icons. Yes, this too is art.

I turn around and say,
but will it still be my image? I mean, the one with the hole. That image will still be mine, right,I mean, legally? ”

Slowly he says,
Yes.... I don't see why not. I'll talk to my lawyer.”

What else do you do with something that is so deep within you that it burns a hole in you? There is no choice but to turn it into art. And if only something superficial is seen and appreciated as some kind of aesthetic commodity that came from a deep dark place maybe that is what it has to be. Maybe it is time to give up the ghost. And maybe it will free that part of me.

He brought his laptop with him, and later, as we work together on this, there is an energy between us. And as we work, I watch him. I have never seen him at work before. To watch now and see what he does. And see that he is brilliant at what he does.... 

We spend hours cleaning up the image, engrossed, testing out different colors and bathing suit styles. And the hours fly by and as they do I recognize there is a new dimension between us that I don't think either of us expected. A flow of energy so much like the energy we have when we are having sex. A charge and silent but fluent communication. It is thrilling. 

And it is no surprise that while working with him I feel myself get wet. And as this happens to me I wonder if he feels it too. Until he says,
come here,” and sets me on the table where we have been working. He pulls up my long skirt, removing what I'm wearing underneath.... We don't want to waste time. He enters fast, anchoring me to the table.