Sunday, June 6, 2010
#110 – STILL DRIVING
And still I was driving. And I thought of times of adventure, but not so much. I thought of the family horrors that were unfolding. I thought of all those people I knew in the city from this past year, and the people from all the other years that I knew but hardly ever saw not, and I thought and how little I knew of the people here in Rutland.
In those talks I had had with Mario when we were still talking, and also when I had spoken in meetings down in the city, I had had heard myself saying that if everything should change and everything go wrong in the future, I would still have had this year. Even if it should all end tomorrow I would have something of great value that I had not had before.
When I was a teenage debating champion my friend and coach Joe Abbey said one thing he worried about was that debating could turn people into contentious figures who thought they knew all they needed to know about anything. What would he say to people in ACOA who decided they knew everything they needed to know about what was wrong with the people and places from which they had come.
And what would he say about this longing for connection that was far more than the horniness that was also there. Connection that could trump any triumph. The longing for connection that years back had made me furious that a girl in a Hong Kong whorehouse bar was not more than she was, and likewise a girl in a bathhouse outside Taipei, and another in a vast Culi-Culi dance hall-brothel complex in Manila, and one in a waterfront bar with bedrooms in Piraeus. This wanting, even demanding, more even in those places. This wanting connection
While driving I had fantasies about red-headed Tina with the shoulder tattoo driving with me, selecting the tapes we played. And I would picture the blonde girl Gillian in the sun at her sidewalk sales place, now seeming unreal at this distance and yet I knew her to be corporeal.
These girls, and back into the distant past. Which meant a different kind of time travel, not to find out what was wrong in the family but to recapture what has seemed so right from when I had first begun coming into life. Not in ACOA. Further back. The Haitian girls Irma and Anne Marie in New York. The beautiful painter Vannie. The stylish sylph-like clothing designer Rae. And Laurie, part sexual outlaw part love object. And all the short term relationships too. Drifting into memory that had the air of fantasy.
And here I was thinking about past sex scenes while drifting around no more than two hour’s drive over from the White Mountains, and no more than seven up from where my grandmother Nana had on lived no East 66th Street.
In the early sixties in a summer when Nana was in the mountains and I had just come back again from aboard and again had no home, I had used her solid, still pre-air conditioning apartment for the steamy month of August when she was up in the mountains. Across from the study there was a guest room, which was used in winter by Nana’s best friend, Frances Perkins, who had been Roosevelt’s labor secretary.
While I was there that summer I had brought in the object of a sexual obsession, this syrupy, married Southern girl named Laurie, sexual outlaw and brilliant, who was married to a friend who was no longer a friend. We had been hiding out at the Henry Hudson Hotel way over west where the ocean liners docked, where we had rolled about in bed with a bottle scotch in the last pace anyone would look for us since the hotel was used almost exclusively by out of toners on their way to Europe.
And now here we were in my grandmother’s bed, then Mrs. Perkins’ bed, then my grandmother’s, the wonderful smell of our bodies in summer, trying out everything we could think of from the past and new things too, going from room to room with the omnipresent Scotch bottles. Sweat giving a special shine to Laurie’s body. She telling me, who had not been always been sure of his physical self, that she just loved his body’s line. Now together in a bathtub. Now, still too hot for clothes, we could as easily as not have gone on top of the Steinway, which had been brought down here when White Pines was sold. The Steinway that here as at White Pines held a facsimile of the Nefertiti head, which was as perfectly shaped as the head of my grandmother, who wore her white hair in a tight net. Laurie wore hers with a flower in it.