Saturday, October 22, 2011

Old guys, sex in Paris and picnics (the usual)

The old guy I adopted (he's 12 or 13) is the lion of the house. He's a general, an old soldier, a chap you can't tell what to do, but today he napped with me in bed.  In the evening, when there is the starlight barking every night in the canyon, he sighs and whines gently and sometimes runs outside to woof loudly and deeply, while the girls sleep. Nothing can stop him. He is the leader of the house now, the man in control, the alpha male. Everyone else is female and he knows it.  While the girls sleep on the LL Bean dogbed embroidered with "Spotteds" he patrols the house and garden and doesn't sleep for a moment. When he barks, I say, "It's okay" but he ignores me. His job is clearly defined and he's definitely not going to sleep on the job.

A friend of mine, recently divorced, went to Paris with four girlfriends for a week-long trip and after a long bout (read: years) of no sex was seduced by a frenchman called Charles, who wore a shirt embroidered with his initials, summered in La Baule, confessed to having three children, and made love to her in the way that only a Frenchman could, storybook style.  She is home now, refreshed, radiant, resolute and completely changed by the experience. Four girlfriends had dinner last night at Soho House, amongst the olive trees and the basket lamps and the sofas, and the burrata and dorade and general scrumptiousness, and she held us all in her grip. transfixed by the story of the amazing Frenchman, with whom she swapped no numbers and who she won't forget for years, despite not knowing his last name, having spent 36 hours in bed with him.  I can't help but think that the universe gives us what we need.  Thank God for that, really.

When I arrived for dinner last night, my friends were sitting around a table looking out at the LA night skyline, a bottle of Veuve Cliquot beside them. It's hard for me to resist my favorite champagne so I broke my alcohol fast in style with two glasses of the fizzy stuff and realized in my lovely buzziness how extraordinarily lucky we are to live in this city at this time. It spreads out before you, the city, Sunset Boulevard a line of lights stretching into the distance, the Pacific Design Center blown up like a museum bathed in light, and then the dark mountains. How lucky are we, really?

And yet this morning I spoke to my mother, who is in Scotland at my brother's house for the weekend. It's a bright October day there and there was lunch on the hill after the men shot, in the hut which is large enough for 19 people. There were quiches and sandwiches and salads and ham and pies and other general deliciousness, a picnic feast with generations of people: my mother, my favorite Norwegian cousin, children on half term, my mother's oldest Scottish friend and her son, my brother's in-laws, their dogs, my mother's dog, her friend's dogs.  It's another life being in Scotland. There is nothing on Saturday but the hill and knickerbockers and walking through heather, and the sunlight. There are eggs and bacon for breakfast, a picnic feast for lunch, red wine and venison stew for dinner, perhaps church on Sunday, then Sunday lunch. I can't pretend not to miss that.

My husband is in his apartment after having a plate surgically implanted in his wrist. He is surviving on percoset, can hardly eat, is grateful for our visits, for the picnic lunch we brought. There is stark relief. There are sweet strawberries and tomatoes and burrata. I find myself wondering whether to take off my shoes and rest my feet on the bed, whether to climb in next to him and put my arms around him and pray for him to get better, whether to bring mini pumpkins and flowers for the bedroom and loo, and his favorite Russian cookies, and milk chocolate with hazlenuts from Switzerland, or whether to call a friend and go hiking.  Somehow I think there may be Paris (where he took me when I was 21) and sometimes I think that Paris is something that happens to other people, like my friend.

The grasshoppers and cicadas are chirruping. All the dogs are finally snoring and it's been a good day. I can't remember the last time I felt that way.

Good night kind friends. Schlafen sie wohl as my favorite teacher, Helga Schmidt was fond of saying.


Katherine C. James said...

Oh, Bumble, you write so beautifully. When I begin one of your pieces, I often don't know where we are going, but it is all so lovely I don't care, as when I turn a day over to a friend and let them take me to a wonderful, unfamiliar destination.

Or, maybe reading your writing is like walking into a room full of so many beautiful objects I'm not quite sure what to settle on first. 

I know two things:

What you wrote here is moving and achingly familiar, and with its generous expanse—from the sadness to the joy in our lives—it made me happy.

I believe there is Paris for us all, though sometimes not in Paris with a Frenchman. I'm finding—and I'm new to this—the trick to reaching such moments may be not seeking and then finding; not holding tight but letting go; just turning suddenly, and there it is, to choose or not. xx.

LPC said...

So very, very beautiful I kept it up in my Reader all day so I could return at some point to read it again and comment. Sometimes there is Paris. And sometimes there is Shanghai.

Wally B said...

I was trying to find something to say that would express my joy of reading your words, but Katherine says it all. I'm glad you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Please be careful with your heart, small steps.