“I am proud that he had chosen me to give him pleasure and that it was he who had been my choice. It was not—as it is for most of you—an act of casual indulgence and mutual contempt. It was the ultimate form of our admiration for each other, with full knowledge of the values by which we made our choice. We are those who do not disconnect the values of their minds from the actions of their bodies, those who do not leave their values to empty dreams, but bring them into existence, those who give material form to thoughts, and reality to values—those who make steel, railroads and happiness. And to such among you who hate the thought of human joy, who wish to see men’s life as chronic suffering and failure, who wish men to apologize for happiness—or for success, or ability, or achievement, or wealth—to such among you, I am now saying: I wanted him, I had him, I was happy, I had known joy, a pure, full, guiltless joy, the joy you dread to hear confessed by any human being, the joy of which your only knowledge is in your hatred for those who are worthy of reaching it. Well, hate me, then—because I have reached it!”
“My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose. Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness!”
“My way of business is to know that the joy you give me is paid for by the joy you get form me – not by your suffering or mine. I don’t accept sacrifices and I don’t make them. If you asked me for more than you meant to me, I would refuse. If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all. A game by which one gains and the other one loses is fraud. You don’t do it in business, don’t do it in your own life!”
“Do you still need proof that I am still waiting for you?”
“Why is it that most women would never admit that, but you do?”
“Because they are never sure they ought to be wanted. I am.”
“I do admire self-confidence.”
“Self confidence was only one part of what I said.”
“What’s the whole?”
“Confidence of my value-and yours.”
“Are you saying… that I rose in your estimation when you found that I wanted you?”
“That’s not the reaction of most people to being wanted.”
“Most people feel that they rise in their own eyes, if others wanted them.”
“I feel that others live up to me if they want me! And that is the way you feel too, about yourself, whether you admit it or not!”
“She survived it. She was able to survive it because she did not believe in suffering. She faced with astonished indignation the ugly fact of feeling pain, and refused to let it matter. Suffering was a senseless accident, it was not part of life as she saw it. She would not allow pain to become important. She had no name for the kind of resistance she offered, for the emotion from which the resistance came; but the words that stood as its equivalent in her mind were: It does not count- it is not to be taken seriously. She knew these were the words, even in the moments when there was nothing left within her but screaming and she wished she could lose the faculty of consciousness so that it would not tell her that what could not be true was true. Not to be taken seriously- an immovable certainty within her kept repeating- pain and ugliness are never to be taken seriously.
She fought it. She recovered. Years helped her to reach the day when she could face her memories indifferently, then the day when she felt no necessity to face them. It was finished and of no concern to her any longer.
She had won the battle against her memories.”
She had become that which she had needed to be and there would be nothing dragging her back.
The place they chose once they had arrived in Cancun was 5 hours’ drive from the big city, the lost countryside. They had to escape the trivial lights and the loud voices, the doctors said she would not tolerate the strong lights, the shapes of the tall buildings, the contour of windows would bring back too many lives, too many haunting scraps of bleeding wounds. Still, she needed the hot heavy air, she longed for it. They rented a “pity room” like Olivier liked to call it, an attic, forgotten, dusty and used once as a greenhouse. All glass, on top of an old apartment building, with a bed and a shelf. They used to bring their own reading lamp. Evenings were not as hot, the air had a peculiar friendly smell, a smell of ancient tribes inhabiting those lands. Windows were forever closed, like in a land of mystery. There was the trace of legends floating in the air, something she could never quite decipher on the old paint of the staircase, lives they had lived before, spirits, lucky charms. It was the shape of the freedom of times. There were no wanderings there, no searching, nothing like she had ever lived before or imagined or described, everything would eventually become clear and come to her in the shape of words and stories. There was isolation. WIth him. It was the story of the beginning of the world flowing through the veins of time over and over again. It was new beginnings, new pages she needed to write down in the memory of her soul. The sky was drawn in violet stripes, an easiness and a serenity she never believed could be found so far away from the poisonous past she held on to for so long, those streets, those hands, nothing bringing joy, nothing new being created. You know one’s soul is dead when nothing new is given to the world. The haunting, endless strive for perfection. Life would not be worth living otherwise.
It was smoking and dancing on the cotton sheets in the first night, on top of the bed, swinging in the thick waves of smoke, the sea reflecting the dim lights, the stars and the shining of their skin. It would be exhausting, trying to lift the heavy past from her shoulders. Ancient voices came to her ears as Olivier sat on the floor and read to her, random thoughts from books he liked to read when he was young, when the world looked different. Somehow, she felt she had lived those times too, she felt the burden of coming to the world long after he had been born. He kept on reading to her, those beloved words, the first way she had been born into the world, through words.
“Don’t let me become someone like anyone…” she pleaded…
His words mixed with the half old voices of the residents, dishes being washed, beds made, prayers said... It was life, in a freckle, the good one, the steady and poetic one, what they came to look for, what she needed in order to become anew. Darkness was never complete during night time, there was no time for sleep but dreams felt more real than any awakening.
Time did not exist, it was melting into space and space was lingering on the shelf and on the faded sand she could see on the edge of the beach. Like in a painting she had seen somewhere, everything seemed smeared with meaning while blending in the vast unknown of the universe, the only thing that mattered above the selfishness of the common life. She would not feel her body, her arms, she would feel easy as light while walking the beach for coffee or leaning back under the sun with his hands in her hair. Olivier would take her in his arms, sand scratching on the sheets and on their skin and say “Have a little faith in me…” as she cum with tears in her eyes while watching the horizon lines blending with the orange sea.
The tulips would always be dry, not dead, dry, with an old heavy perfume. “Where does one get tulips in this place anyway?” she would ask every morning. Olivier’s laugh… Madness must be the same as the real encounter with art, or death or the deeper understanding between two people…there is no thirst, no coldness, no rush, everything is thought and everything is flowing. Hearts were very brave. She would draw a map on the steamy glass walls and be surprised by her own life, by how far she had come to understand it, to live in it. It was a calm madness, none of the few people she saw on the beach were in a hurry, they all belonged in their destiny, they would look at things as in a continuous meditation, as if everything spoke back to them, they wouldn’t fight it. It was in simplicity that one’s answers came, that one’s mastery caught life.
“I wonder how other people’s madness feels like?” she would ask him without needing any answer…But Olivier knew it was the way in which the healing would start, the veil would slowly be lifted and she would come back to him. It was what she lived for after all, a neediness for knowing the world but a struggle for making and owning her own.
She would start walking the paths of the old little town and find comfort in the peasants dry face and wrinkles. They told enough stories. She would come back to the small bar and sit next to him while drinking cold coffee. Olivier would always be there to listen.
“Maybe that’s how he felt, when it was his time… maybe silence brought him back to life, the kindness of the ages, maybe believing in people brought him back to life…or maybe just believing…Maybe he believed in summer and he was brought back to life on a beach…”