Monday, April 30, 2012

Manhattan woman mystery

Every time I pass by Rockefeller Center I think of Chloe. She's the only daughter of a very wealthy industrialist of the old sort, the kind that built this city in the 30s but are now long gone. He wasn't around much when she was little and tried to compensate for it when the battles were already lost and it was too late for excuses. She doesn't talk much about it but I know it still hurts her. She always wanted to be a daddy's girl and she would have been fantastic at it, sometimes I think it's the only thing she's ever been missing.

The upside to it is that she can spend endless days with me in a city far across the wasteland, away from her family in Los Angeles, without being accused of running away. Sunday afternoon we're chasing shadows down Broadway, making our way through crowds of people arm in arm when suddenly I freeze like a marble statue just outside SoHo's Bloomingdale's. Chloe turns around and asks me what's wrong, a chill runs down my spine at 200 mph.

"I thought I saw her" I reply, "the lady in black". Chloe grabs my arm, drags me to Washington Square Park without saying a single word, sits me down on the spring grass and looks deep into my eyes. "Tell me everything" she says, so I do. She looks so happy, as if she's stumbled upon a treasure she didn't even know she had been looking for. "This is fantastic" she says, "I just found a new short term purpose in life. We have to find her".

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gimme shelter

We don't talk about Carl, whenever I mention his name she quickly changes the subject or pretends not to hear me from across the room. I'm anxious to know more but her silence and insecure body language speaks volumes too. I can only guess what drove them apart in the end and made her go all the way to New York to see me.

"Write about my outfit" she says. It's a towel but on her it looks like a little black dress and she knows it. We sit opposite each other on the bed listening to Let it bleed in the dark, the curtains closed to block out the daylight, somehow mimicking those moments I shared with him years ago when we were both children. Maybe she knows, but she plays along and looks up at me from under her hair just like he used to do and I smile back, just like I used to.

She gets up from the bed, puts on matching underwear and dances barefoot over the black marble floors in the hallway just outside my room. When I close my eyes and listen I can hear her softly singing along with the lyrics, almost like a whisper:

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away

Monday, April 23, 2012

Starry starry night

Spending time with real people again is like waking up from a dream. Ever since S left a month ago I've been alone with my imagination and the smell of pastel colored spring flowers on the bedroom window ledges. It's not necessarily a good thing. With Chloe here I have someone to talk to, to model dresses for and to spend late nights on the balcony with, breathing in the damp Atlantic air to the sounds of a city that never sleeps.

Mother has gone back to Los Angeles "for a week or so", it usually means a month. Chloe and I spent the weekend on bars all over town, dressed up in black and lace and with seductive burgundy red lips saying it's okay to buy us drinks. It's almost too easy.

And just as we were about to go back home, somewhere below tall buildings with yellow cabs and ambulances rushing past us on Broadway, it hit me like a sledgehammer: the memory of how the sky would look during clear nights in the garden of our summer house. The memory of a million glittering stars, and my father calmly pointing out the various constellations as if on a map on the kitchen table. "We'll go there some day" he said and I trusted him. All I see on this light polluted city sky is clouds and airplanes, my feet are steadily on the ground in lustrous high heels. It's another sort of dream and I'll never be able to fly.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The sound of my phone ringing wakes me up ruthlessly and way too early, it's Chloe on the other end of the line, her voice an arrow through the airwaves. "I'm at Newark" she says, "are you coming for me?"

I get up in a daze, put on something black and hail a taxi on 5th, my heart a violent uproar through Lincoln Tunnel (and no names are written in the condensation on the window).

I make my way through the crowds in the terminal building and I see her, my body a tumbling waterfall over polished stone floors. "I have something for you" she says and hands me a pretty little pink origami butterfly.

And now she's here, sitting next to me on my bed, our breaths like thunderstorms through the silence. I touch her chestnut hair with my fingertips every five minutes, just to make sure it's really true.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It happened in Monterey

Another week and I'm living my life somewhere in between worlds, just like mother. Yesterday's dinner and the old friends we met reminded me of how she's not always been this way. Her past was so much simpler and more modest, the people she knew less polished and posh, and I still wonder what happened to change all that.

We knocked on the door of the Greenwich Village apartment at exactly 7 PM, a barefooted man with circular sunglasses and long tangles of wispy hair in his face opened, gave mother a warm hug and shook my hand the way you do with a child. The place was scarcely furnished and smelled subtly of marijuana, I'm used to it from back home and expected nothing less.

Mother slided into the living room, lit a candle placed in a vintage wine bottle and sat back in the couch only to jump up again at the sound of the doorbell. "Oh my God, Frank!" she yelled and threw her arms around a tall man in a worn jean jacket. They hugged for what felt like an eternity before she introduced me, still short of breath from rambling terms of endearment in falsetto.

After hours of political discussions I went home alone, mother stayed behind in the pot haze and came back earlier this morning, seemingly happy. "He's just a friend" she mumbled, "one I haven't seen in many years". I hadn't asked but immediately came to think of Carl. I don't know what he is to me now, but I can't go much longer without talking to him.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In private

This blog has always been mainly therapeutic, but lately it's also made me feel slightly paranoid. There are so many reading it now, I get loads of curious emails from people who want to find out more, who want to date me and who want to know if I can introduce them to Mick Jagger. I'm beginning to feel it when I'm outside, walking the streets, people I meet, are they looking because they recognize me or is it maybe just in my mind?

Don't get me wrong, the attention I get is almost exclusively positive and that's what makes me want to continue. At the same time I'm giving away a lot of sensitive information about people I don't want to hurt, but I'm trying to protect them too, by not always using their real names for example.

And I understand curiosity as a driving force. It's what made me say yes to mother's invitation to go meet some of her old friends in the Village tomorrow. "Nothing fancy, just a dinner" she says. I'm sure the lady in black won't be there, but maybe someone else who might know something that I don't. It's worth a try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

All the dreams we held so close

This solitude is rapidly getting more intrusive. I sleep too much and wake up vividly remembering all my dreams, they're with me up until the moment I get up and they dissolve like chimney smoke. Everything becomes an excuse for taking a warm shower, getting back into bed without clothes and fantasizing for however long it takes to be calm again (mother's wine only gives me palpitations these days). The subtle scent absorbed by my fingertips reminds me of Miri, the night we kissed in that drunken haze back in Los Angeles. I haven't spoken to her in years.

When I think of her I see the sepia-colored picture on the bedside table, my mother's father looking inexpressively at us from across time and space. The grandfather I never knew, the connection (if there is one) I've been searching for ever since I found mother's diary with those missing pages, her own words about the days on the Trans-Siberian Railway with my father, more than 30 years ago.


T:s silence is worrying me. "It's been done" he said and nothing more. Maybe I'm not as calm as I think I am, if I was I would be able to talk to him, to look into his eyes and feel that everything will eventually be fine, for the both of us. We're back where we started in a day or two, but everything has changed, of course. It's what happens in times of war, everyone has blood on their hands but it's only the honest ones who are not afraid of admitting it. What it does to the rest of your life is another matter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poison ivy

Today's outfit: la tristesse. So few of my earliest memories include my father, but it's not because he was never around. I know he was, but somehow he's been filtered out of so many of the snapshots from a cherry blossomed childhood. When I think back I see us alone together, seldom or never in the company of others, and the tone of the images is harsher, more direct.

And sometimes in the silence and solitude he left behind I can't escape the itching from two little things, one that inevitably leads to the other. I think of the question without answer; what if they were the happiest times of our lives and what if nothing will ever compare to them, and what's even worse and what cuts inside me like an unsharpened butcher's knife whenever it comes to mind, I sometimes think that what if the happiest times of my life were not spent with him?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Je suis encore tout étourdie

Easter, my first in New York. Mother takes me to the Met to see Manon, the tragic story of two lovers who defy the world but end up destroying each other. I'd like to think she's trying to tell me something. It's a matinee, in the spring sunshine the colorful Chagalls are covered up and the white stone facade with its tall arches looks less inviting, harder somehow.

We take our seats, mother dressed dramatically in flowing cascades of finest smoke black Italian silks, me in a gray pencil skirt and my highest heels. Just as the lights fade and the orchestra starts playing I turn to the right and time comes to a sudden halt the moment I see her, seven or eight seats away: the woman in black from the party. She doesn't look at me but I can't escape the eery feeling of being constantly watched. Between acts I follow her out into the lobby but lose her somewhere in the crowds, when we return her seat is empty and she doesn't come back.

The opera goes on like a machinery, in the final act the protagonist dies in the arms of her lover, singing c'est là l'histoire de Manon Lescaut. Mother gets up, almost loses her balance for a second but regains her posture, walks out beneath the arches and all the way home without saying a single word, eyes straight forward. I think she saw her too.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Over the horizon

The phone rings in my purse late Tuesday night and it's Chloe. "Have you been missing me" she asks, I'm on my way home somewhere on 5th and the air seems lighter somehow, the streets less crowded. "Go up the Empire State Building and look west, I'm waving" she says and I believe her.

She tells me about Los Angeles, about drunken Saturdays without me and a growing void in her heart since I left. And she tells me about Carl. It's been close to two months since I last heard his voice, more since I saw him through a window, holding her little porcelain hand in his. "Is he there" I ask but she says he isn't and the irregular heartbeat passes.

"I want to see you" she says, "we can get a room at the Waldorf and stay there forever". "Let's do that" I say and we're quiet for a while, traffic in my background, silence in hers. I tell her I love her and she's crying but tries to hide it. When we hang up I've walked too far and I want to turn around but lack the energy so I sit down alone on the cold pavement, the Empire State Building glowing like a beacon in the corner of my eye. I imagine her still waving from across the wasteland and it looks so pretty.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


April begins with a sad gray sky, when I wake up around 9 mother has already gone out and left the door to the balcony open. I step out into the morning air wearing just the hip long loose fitting T-shirt I slept in (not an Abercrombie & Fitch), the feeling is close to sensual; rough unpolished stone under my feet and a coolish breeze stroking my bare thighs with every little breath.

I think back to late summer nights in LA, Chloe and me on the roof of our house, wearing our sheerest nightclothes and reciting articles from Vogue Italia like bedtime stories to the best of our linguistic knowledge. She does it perfectly of course, leaning casually against the railing like a model, the folded magazine in one hand and the other lost somewhere in her flowing chestnut hair. When she rolls her tongue around the foreign words it sounds just like music.

Later: the afternoon air in Central Park smells of wet soil and anticipation. I wish she was here to hold my hand through the rainfall.