Frehel Diaries: Lost in Translation
I’ve always been good with words. When I was very little my parents used to encourage me to read at the dinner table so they could talk until they discovered that I could converse just as skillfully as an adult. My mother was always very proud of my ability to engage almost anyone in conversation. As I grew up and my disability invited the ridicule of my classmates I discovered another use for my wit. These kids didn’t know how to throw an insult. I learned how to cut out someone's heart so fast with a casual line that he or she would barely have time to see the blood on his or her shirt before passing out. After one or two verbal whippings, the popular kids had the good sense to make fun of me well out of earshot. In high school, my vicious sense of humor attracted many friends and suddenly I WAS one of the popular people. By the time I got to college, I was working as a columnist for a newspaper gaining fan mail for my turns of phrase. But by then I began to use my words like a suit of armour. I’ve gone out at night waiting for some poor fool of a man to hit on me just so I could cut him into ribbons for my own entertainment. Just to prove that I could.

When I met the Sauvage I thought since I couldn't use all my little tricks that he would get to know the real me. But then I suddenly realized that I had no idea who I was without words. I live a life entirely of letters. My blog. My teaching career. My reviews. My reputation. Christ all I do is deal, trade, sculpt words. And if I don’t have a clue, then how could hell could he?

But then I began thinking why I went to Paris to begin with. I went to forget a person I had known for 14 years. 14. He met me when I first moved to NY. When I left everything I knew to come to the city where I knew absolutely no one. He was one of the first people I met. And I thought because he had known me longer than most people, known me even when my father was still alive, that he knew me better. But he never trusted me. No matter what I did he suspected there was some deception. I was playing games. I was fucking with him for my own sick entertainment. We shared a common language. We had a similar sense of humor. We had similar tastes in movies.

But he didn’t know me.

But this man who barely knew me, with whom I didn’t share a common language, whose life is so different from my own I can’t even imagine what his childhood was like, this man trusted me enough to take me on vacation with him and his daughter, to introduce me to his parents.

He trusted me. And I trusted him. And he appreciated what I did for him as I, occasionally, valued what he did for me. And if he didn’t understand about my trips to Martha’s Vineyard with my father or my disability, he understood the most important part of me. The part that doesn't need spoken language.

And so, as always, whether I return from France with a lover or without a lover or with a book deal or without a book deal, I always come back with a better understanding of who I am and a sense that every once in a great while there is some justice in the universe.

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