Sandals reached into his bag and gave me a piece of raw broccoli wrapped in basil.
Karisma, “What are you going to do with that?”
Me, “Eat it.”
student next to me turned to watch as I bit off the head. My mouth was
filled with French soil, sunshine and God. Why was the food so
delicious? It's not just how the French cook, it's their food on a
The flavor is alive, as if fresh out of Genesis. I have
never tasted anything like it.
Moments before, Sandals informed
Portland and I that we were both married in our past for the same
length of time: One year and four months. How fated.
I asked him, “How long ago was the divorce?”
He said, “November.”
I exhaled, “That’s recent. You shouldn’t date for a year, at least that’s what they say.”
He was silent.
Later I texted him, teasing for a flirtation or asking what dress to wear.
He wrote back, “Thinking about divorce.”
I wrote, “Save it for Portland. You are in France with pretty girls and me.”
He wrote back, “Trying.”
Dear God, I was losing him.
liked Portland, a lot. When I stood next to him, I could feel my skin
rub against the air and heat flush my cheeks and inner thighs.
else was happening around me, I was noticing how God damn beautiful
everyone was in Cannes. The waiters, the security guards, the men on the
bus, the women serving coffee . . . they looked healthy, happy and
weren’t afraid to look at me.
I have been forced to articulate why I prefer the way European men look at me as opposed to the way American men do:
an American man looks at you, he puts emphasis on your parts; your ass,
your tits, your legs. They also make it a performance in a way, looking
at you so others can see they are looking at you. American men like to
posture, fluff their feathers and show how puffy their cocks can get.
European men look at you, they look at your eyes. They hold your gaze.
You smile, look down, blush and then see they are still looking at you,
unashamed and frozen in time. Its a private moment, between you and him.
I have never felt so beautiful in my life.
there is also a difference between American and European women.
American women thrive on making you uncomfortable if you are getting
male attention. They get competitive, catty and often start to
women are kind, they smile, deliver flirtatious messages from their
male friends, kiss your cheek and laugh. There isn’t the same tension or
sexual competition. They are happier and more attractive.
on the day between arriving and the festival, my libido exploded. I
really don’t know how it happened or why it happened, I don’t consider
myself all that physically attractive. Somehow, Cannes locked into my
sexuality and accelerated my identity as a woman.
Obviously, I was
a sexual person before, but filled with neurosis and diagnosis.
Insecurities about my posture and hair completely vanish. And . . . I . .
. was . . . realized.
A man passed by to look at me, Ralph said, “You have some kind of primal thing going on.”
I raised my eyebrow and smiled.
“I know. It is weird.”
the students were assigned jobs and were sent off on their way to work
the festival, my co-workers and I stopped at a bar for a drink.
It was a nice bar with a happy hour. Some things are universal.
Martinis were served in large glasses with fresh lemon and, was it, peppermint leaves?
ice gave the liquor body, and we all relaxed in the late afternoon
knowing the bulk of our responsibilities for the festival were now done.
was taking pictures of an older gentleman across the bar. Something
about the silver in his wavy hair, the cigarette smoke spilling out of
his nostrils like a steamboat, the lines on his face . . . he was
interesting. I was curious if I could capture him on the camera Jerry
I remember the mood being light, and Ralph started in
about a relationship that tore him apart the year before. We listened
and I thought how nice it was to hear a man talk about being hurt by a
relationship, as opposed to the stone walled apathy of my last two
My camera lens returned to the table across the bar,
with the middle-aged gentleman and his cigarette. A young man, with
black wavy hair joined him. He had a round forehead, Mediterranean cocoa
skin and a wrist tattoo that said, ‘To Live and To Love New York’. I
started taking pictures of him and the cigarette smoke rising off his
arms and table like fog.
Karisma saw my photos of him and said, “I just want to run my fingers through that hair.”
I exhaled an “I know”.
chimed into the conversation describing his ex-wife. They were living
in an old house where the embers from the fireplace escaped the steel
and stone and caught hold of wood. They were asleep, his wife woke him
up and they carried their two dogs (on his back) out of the burning
He choked up, “She saved my life.”
. . . shit.
welled up and Ralph put his hand on Portland’s back as I saw him try to
quietly swallow a large, but quickly fragmenting, sob.
I pulled over the waitress and asked for a shot of whiskey to be sent over to that end of the table.
Portland started his story about the ex-wife and the fire, I tossed a
glance over to smoking table and my eyes collided with the young man’s
across the bar once, then twice.
Jesus Christ, Portland was a mess. An attractive mess.
My first reaction was to step away entirely. The second wave of thought was, you can’t hurt him.
How do I not hurt him?
Reinforce his ego. Make him laugh. Give him attention.
young man with the New York tattoo stood up and over Ralph, made a
gesture with his hand and lips, “Leaving but coming back. You will be
I gave a quick nod and smile. Jesus, no one notice. NO ONE NOTICE!
Karisma stopped and said, “WHAT?”
She turned her head between me and the table, “What just happened?”
Portland stopped talking to take in a breath or two.
I shook my head and tried to wipe the grin off my mouth, but it was like snapping rubber bands.
Everyone turned their attention to me.
Karisma, “Did you just-”
Me, “He is coming back, he just wanted to make sure I will be here.”
took a sip and felt the ice cubes tap my upper lip and quickly glanced
over to Portland, who was looking down. His moment shouldn’t have been
interrupted, and by me, of all people, flirting with another guy.
Portland looked to Karisma, “You wanna make out.”
I texted him, “Come on, I like you.”
Portland texted back, “He was hot.”
I texted, “I just wanted to feel pretty while you were talking about this bitch who broke your heart.”
am not happy with my wording here, but my adrenaline and
troubleshooting glands were pumping fast, and that's when I get most
The waitress brought his shot and Portland thanked someone else for it. I said, “I ordered it for you. You're welcome.”
He chuckled a self-conscious “Thank You” and swallowed it. She made it a double. Good.
this point, I decide to quickly talk about Abe and how he dumped me
before a wedding, before we were supposed to move in together and after
buying me a $100 dress.
People tossed up words of consolation, not that I was looking for that.
Portland said, “You deserve more than $100 dress.”
It was a nice thing to say, but somehow it made me feel poor.
just wanted to connect with them. I felt like an asshole. New York
Tattoo didn’t know he picked the worst time possible to hit on me, and
my natural instinct was to get swept up by it.
gentleman left his table and came by to offer a nod and a smile. My
cohorts laughed. The performance was happening to me, I wasn’t making it
happen. Everything was circumstantial, and it was so easy to be
escorted into the thick, delicious musk of it.
During the second round, NY Tattoo came back.
The alcohol was smudging the windows and I was obsessed with
making Karisma laugh. It wasn't hard to make her cry while giggling, and
so I always felt disappointed if I didn't get her to that point where
one tear drop fell down the bend of her nose.
So when I saw the young man with wavy black hair come back, I turned to Karisma and said, “Watch this.”
I pushed my chair out into the aisle, away from the table, right as my smoking, wavy haired stranger approached.
He introduced himself, took my hand but didn’t shake it.
He asked if I was here for the festival. I said I was.
He asked to take me out for drinks. I agreed.
He gave me his number. I gave him mine.
Then, he took my hand again, held it and smiled before leaving the restaurant again.
Sandals said, “What’s his name?”
I pulled out the notepad where he wrote his name to check. Everyone laughed.
I read aloud, “Gade”.
Yeah . . . if I were Portland, I wouldn’t want to have anything more to do with me.
way events unfolded felt like improvisation in its greatest and most
graceful form. I wasn’t really trying to show off, though part of that
was the comedy. It just was so easy to make a table of people laugh and
feel beautiful all in the same moment. That doesn’t happen often, at
least not for me. The combination was surprisingly intoxicating.
It was a broccoli wrapped in basil.
that night, my phone buzzed with texts from Gade. My thoughts went from
building a slow romance with Portland, to having dirty sex in a
cobblestone alley way with Gade.
I wanted both.
I knew it
would be impossible to keep a plate and a bowl spinning opposite each
other, but I was going to try and wait to see what fell and smashed
days later, I sat next to Portland and said, “What if I asked you to
have one debaucherous evening with me? After Cannes, somewhere else.”
He bent down to straighten his boot laces, blushing.
Portland, “I am flattered.”
Me, “That means no.”
Portland, “I think we work . . . better as friends.”
My heart pinched. Ow.
Me, “I am too much. If I were a man, I wouldn’t want to get involved with me either.”
Portland, “It's not that you are too much, it's just that you are too much for me right now.”
Me, “I know.”
I really should have stopped myself here, but I didn’t want him to feel like he was Gade.
He was special, the kiss was perfect, he was seemingly perfect and most definitely vulnerable.
careless flirtation somehow stole gold from our moment, and I wanted
him to know that just because my attention was redirected, it didn’t
mean that he (or the potential we) was worth any less.
Me, “You are the kind of man I could fall in love with.”
He looked down, uncomfortably, smiled a little and said, “ . . . yeah . . .”
the fact that I was throwing all my cards on the table with a slap of
the hand, nothing changed the fact that, in his shoes, I would have
walked away too.
*Please note, my camera was stolen so photos of this blog could not be used. :-(