Frehel Diaries: Promise

“Il est une countree qui te ressemble, ou tout est beau. Riche, tranquille et honnete, ou la fantaisie a bati et decore une Chine occidentale, ou la vie est douce a respierer, ou le bonheur est marie au silence. C'est la qu’il faut aller vivre, c’est la qu’il faut aller mourir!”

“There is a land that ressembles you, where all is beautiful, rich, restful and decorous, where fantasy has built and furnished a China of the West, where life is sweet to the senses, where happiness is wedded to silence. It is there that we must go to live, it is there that we must go to die!” Invitation to the Voyage by Charles Baudelaire (translated by Michael Hamburger)

I only slept for two hours before the Sauvage returned. He kneeled by the bedside and even though both of us were hungry, the light shift I was wearing to sleep in was quickly shed.

I have noticed in my passionate anthropological research of how French men make love that when performing oral sex they have a tendency to kneel beside the bed and pull my body to the edge. It is a position of complete and utter submission to my pleasure. Of worship. I had expected that he would be more interested in the satiation of his own desires, but as always the Sauvage was surprising in giving me pleasure without seeming interest in his own. And with the jetlag, if he wanted to drown himself in the indulgence of my pleasure (as really every straight man should), I didn't have the energy to argue.

Soon we were both starving and so I quickly showered and got dressed and we went out Much like Chinese food, I had never had pizza in Paris. I was a bit curious about what pizza would be like here, although I would have guilty about ordering pizza here on my own rather than opting for trying something...well, French. We each ordered a "personal" pizza, his an "everything vegetable" pizza including artichokes and capers, and mine a safe margherita pizza. The pizza arrived with a thin crust and no cut slices. I sat and watched the Sauvage as he began to cut pieces and eat them with a knife and fork. I asked him if he knew how New Yorkers ate pizza. He didn't, but the look of horror on his face, when he thought I would actually eat the slice with my hands was priceless. Had he not seen NYers in countless films and movies enjoying a slice? It seemed inconceivable, but then as he would later teach me "Everything in Paris is possible." I put the slice down and ate it like a proper Parisian woman, with my knife and fork. It was delicious particularly with the chili oil on the table.

As we sat there he chatted with me asking me at one point about my racial heritage. To make things easier for me translation wise I simplified my answer, "Irish, English, and German," his eyes widened. He couldn't seem to believe that a person could be a mix of all three. In reality, I am Irish, English and Native American on my mother's side (Italians have since married into that side of the family for added fun), on my father's I am Polish, Czech, and German. Luckily, I didn't explain all of my heritage or his brain might have fallen out onto the floor and flopped about for a bit before coming to stunned stop.

Going away is not really about learning about other cultures. It is more about learning about your own courtesy of the Hegelian dialectic (the more you know what something is not, the closer you come to learning what it is). The Sauvage was simply Breton, not French, but something even more narrow, more specific. He could not conceptualize an identity fractured even three times by different cultural heritages, nevermind an identity based on numerous complicated, and even contentious, cultural backgrounds. I am as a person about complexity on more levels than I usually meditate upon. Take, for example, the issue of my Judaism-the result of my mother's conversion, which means that while the goyim accept me as a jew without question, not all Jews do despite all that time I wasted in Sunday school learning to read Hebrew phonetically and singing the Dreidel Song. And even this is further complicated by my own avowed atheism. Even this single aspect of my identity is difficult, so it comes as no surprise that my racial background should be about as simple to understand as Lacanian literary theory translated into Esperanto.

Dinner was over quickly and in the elevator on the way back to his apartment, he picked me up, my legs wrapped around him as he sat me on the guide bar. If I openned my eyes, I could see our reflection in full length mirror which formed the back wall of the elevator. He never stopped kissing me, and I thought when we got back to the apartment I would be thrown on the bed and ravaged.

But he insisted that I get my camera and grabbed his own. Soon we were on the way down to the parking garage to his car.

On my last trip to Paris, the Sauvage learned that I had never actually seen the Champs Elysees. First he drove around one of my favorite places, Place de la Concorde, then the Louvre. He cruised all the way down the Champs Elysees pointing out famous old cafes and driving around the L’arc de Triomphe at Charles de Gaulle Etoile. We continued until we stopped on a quiet small side street. He dragged me by the hand down a short side street until I found myself on the grass. I looked up to find I was standing besides the Eiffel Tower. I had never seen it at night, lit up. I sat on the grass looking up at it. "Wait," he said. He had his camera at the ready, although I had no idea why. And then the lights began to twinkle and glitter. As if the stars had come alive. He took pictures of me giggling in delight and surprise. After a few pictures, I lay against him on the grass watching the Tower sparkle.

Nine years ago I was promised this night. I was promised the experience of Paris in Love. And here I was-with my French lover sitting on the grass looking at La Tour Eiffel glittering in the night. The Universe had owed me that moment for so long that I had given up hope that it would ever happen. Given up hope that I could ever be amazed. That my trust in a man could be justified, even rewarded. That were things in this world still full of wonder and delight and most importantly surprise.

But sitting there, I had one of those brief moments where I felt as if some genius hand had sculpted every moment, every decision, every catastrophe even, to bring me to here, to this unforeseen, unexpected complete and utter perfection of experience. As Dante wrote in the Inferno, “and so I thought that the universe experienced love.”

Most of the time, my life sucks beyond the telling of it, but for all that pain, for all that I have lost, I am repaid with the most unusual pleasures. No one can know the delicious joy of that night for me-the universe recast in colours of hope, surprise, and most importantly faith well rewarded.

After the blinking lights went off, he took me home and made love to me. An expected pleasure to be sure, but no less sweet for the predictability of it.

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