Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Written at the Memoir Festival Workshop This Past Weekend at Omega

He was tall enough though not a tall man. He had gone bald on top but somehow this didn’t make him look old or ugly. His brown eyes were bright and full of activity. His lips curved. But probably his strongest feature was his voice. It was strong. Not unusually deep. Not an obvious radio voice or anything, but his voice was strong and always sure and the words spilled from his mouth in an accent all their own, a Britishy accent that he had taught himself fiercely in London when a younger man – he was in his late 30s now. He’d created a smooth English-speaking voice that wasn’t uptight and rigid, but which covered perfectly his Greek origins. He did not at all sound like the other Greeks I met all with their quickly identifiable and lampoonable accents.

He was smooth in everything without being conventional. His clothes always looked expensive even when they were years old, even if way back then they had been cheap or hand-me-downs. He took care of every item of clothing as if it were precious – never pulled up the sleeves of his sweater to the elbow because that stretched out the wrist. But he lounged when at rest, leaning back with a blue and white cup and saucer in hand, drinking his strong coffee, looking out over the zinnias growing in the roof garden, his legs extended, bare feet, ankles crossed, his robe of burgundy paisley silk tied around his frame. And he moved quickly when he needed to, leaping onto subways in his white pressed cotton yoga trousers, shirt ironed, perky cap on his head. You didn’t notice he was taking care of his clothes. You only knew that if you lived with him.

I was his yoga student along with several others and this is not a love story. He chose Mark as his lover, a boy in his late 20s, a few years older than me. Blonde Mark, dancer with broad high-arched feet, with large long-lashed eyes and a wide sensuous mouth, a boy who was going bald in the same way Natvar was.

So I was not his lover. I moved in anyway. To the school when a room opened up in the back, not really a room, more like a walk-in closet. It was New York City then, this was before Greece, and I moved in because a passion for yoga and an exploration of meditation seemed like the best way to go. Nothing else was really working.

I’d been back in Manhattan and hadn’t fallen in love with anyone. I had assumed that by now I would have. And it was crucial that I do. I’d left Jeffrey back in L.A. He had been at the center of everything for the last five years and the only way I thought I could really move on would be to fall in love with someone else. Oh man, it would be so great to have Jeffrey fade finally, permanently, into the background instead of still trying all the time not to think of him.

I had tried very hard to get the lover thing going. Picked up a couple men here and there at parties and though I tried very hard to spin them into something interesting they fell far short and made me miss the intensity of me-and-Jeffrey even more.

In desperation I’d looked up my high school boyfriend whom I had never liked that much but knew I could easily entice, and entice him I did, right away from his plain quiet no-competition girlfriend, but even that petered out in a couple months for him, this time, as much as for me.

Plus, this being-a-writer that I had set out to become with such optimism in the Spring, certain that all I had to do was quit my suffocating 9-5 job and stay home at my desk like Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag and find interesting non-conformist jobs to do for money like all real artists found like carpentry and selling used furniture on the street – it was Fall now and Winter and even though I had gone hitchhiking by myself in Nova Scotia, had injected every correct ingredient into my life for a fine-tasting stew, it was all tasting like same old. Same old just me not amounting to anything with nothing to be proud of. I need to be able to have something interesting to say to people in conversation. Otherwise they will overlook me. As well they should.

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