Friday, September 24, 2010


The bitch about living in the present is you have to keep doing it or you don't remember what made it so wonderful. Having fallen pitiably behind in expressing my joy at where I was (Paris and St. Tropez: it already sounds like a fiction) I have missed my own breadcrumbs on the trail, so do not even have to wait for the birds to come to feel lost. It was so filled with joy, everywhere I was, but am now hopelessly brain-dead and jet-lagged, hearing only the sounds of the sirens as various UN dignitaries make their way around our city, and Obama loses his wheels. It is hard to see him struggling so, when the dream seemed so lucid.
Anyway, there I was. Three glorious days at the Crillon, then three days at Villa Marie, which was once the Bergerettes, where I took my still young family after Robert's(Bob he was then) Bar Mitzvah, because my beloved friend Sandy, who was with Time at the time in Paris, said "Everyone says St. Tropez, c'est finis, but I think you'll like it," and we did. After Don died too soon, expressing only denial on his way out of this planet, except for saying "I want to go back there," I took his cufflinks and buried them beneath one of the maritime pine that adjoins the property, going back to visit them (and him) during several Mays or Septembers, the best time to be in the South of France, the foule having gone. I know that's the French word for something that means the too-many tourists, or at least I think. But this time when I went back my heart was heavy, as the dentists say when they are retiring, because there have been so many losses. Prime among those is Sandy, whom my close friends and even some distant ones know died under mysterious circumstances in Bali, the great irony being that this storied investigative reporter was killed and nobody does anything about it, because the evidence is not in hand, and can't be gotten without a court order, although the details of the autopsy were available in the Jakarta Post, a newspaper that apparently can't be believed. But the case is on file as "an unsolved homicide," and as I loved her more than any other friend, I have been struggling with trying to write about it for all the years since her death, which are now six.
I thought to begin and end it in Bali, and have started several times. But this time I went up to the room where she stayed at what was once 'Les Bergerettes', and reaching out the terrace window was traveled into the beginning of 'Wuthering Heights' and thought I felt a ghostly hand. All terribly moving and dark, which the trip wasn't at all. It was sunshine and filled with light, internal as well as what Nature afforded, so I had a glorious time when I wasn't being haunted.
I had one funny day in-between luxury hotels when I couldn't get out of the bathtub in a little place I had found, it being slippery and small(the tub, not the hotel) with nothing to grab hold of, followed by lunch at the Graniers, a small beach near Byblos that tourists don't know about and guests at Byblos don't go to, because it isn't chic, then a swim in the quiet waters of the Gulf of Grimaud, which I couldn't get out of either. The whole shore just inside the final hardly-even rippling of the water is made up of very insistent pebbles and rocks; I was waiting to find a soft place and there wasn't one, so I just floated there for a while, when one of the very smart(bikini-wise) women on the beach asked me if I needed help. So I got up and out, not wanting to seem helpless, and just sat on my matelas for a while, bleeding a little from just below my knee. Not wanting to seem in any way impaired, I paid no attention to it until one of the pretty young women brought me some ice in a napkin, so I could wipe it off. It was my intention to go back there the next day and repay her kindness by begging her to stop smoking, but Europeans do not look kindly on our propagandizing against cigarettes
especially as they are all still puffing away. Anyway, by that time I had connected with The Ladies.
The Ladies: a really visually impressive group of women of a certain age, not quite as certain as mine, who were there on a yacht, I mean really, from Jersey, the place where the Brits go to hide their money, as our people do the Cayman Islands. Most adorable among them was their mascot, Gemma, just turned 21, half hidden by her T-shirt which she had made into a tent over her head and upper body so she could text, which of course made me crazy, as she was missing where she was, texting being the disease that I feel will wipe out all our young, whether or not they are driving. Mum, a beautiful woman named Fiona, one of my favorite names, owns the yacht, father being tragically gone, a fiercely charming dark-haired ringleader (I suspect) being Pia, whose third husband it is she is now living with in Jersey, Joy, who has four children, and is herself enhanced by her sisters, who apparently travel often and everywhere in a group, and Sian, the most business-like among them, apparently the Brit equivalent of an event planner, I think. Anyway they were at the next table at Graniers, suffering over which wine to order, so I gave them a taste of my Rose (accent) which was good enough, as is any rose in the South of France, and they liked it, and apparently, me. So we all got together the next day for my last lunch in Saint Tropez at Club 55 which I usually avoided because it seemed to me so phony, but it isn't if you are there with delightful people for long enough, which was the stretched-out final afternoon. I had the best time. The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as queens which we need to realize we are, whether or not we have had the luck to connect with kings.
It was a fabulous finale, marred only by the fact that I was so overstimulated I could not sleep all night, (it was Sandy's old room, the moon shone silver high in the heavens which they really are in the south of France, and I was afraid to reach out the window for the touch of that ghostly hand,) I had to drive into the glaring early morning sunlight and was frightened the whole time as I could hardly see where I was going, made my plane, didn't sleep on that either, and have been five days trying to right my place in time.
It is seven days now, my having slept for much of the two days since I lamented not sleeping, and I have remembered most of it in sequence: my three queenly days at the Crillon, where I semi-rescued my agent whose luggage had been sent to Stockholm, so I let him shower in my suite preparatory to meeting up with his coeur-throb, a wonderful dinner with my darling friend Suzie whom I met when we both crashed the pool at the Bristol, all those years ago, then only one disappointment when my once editor from the WSJ whom I deeply admire and always sets me straight, vision-of-the-worldwise, on which empty evening I roamed the streets alone which is never a hardship in Paris, had a meal by myself and wrote pomes, then Sunday with my beloved petite famille francaise, the people who lived upstairs from me when I headquartered in Paris and fell in love with Gaspard, their two-year old golden child, whose 14th birthday we celebrated over paella and his first cell-phone. It seems a staple of French life at 14, a coming of tech-age equivalent of our 16 year old car in Beverly Hills. Then Sunday night with the gorgeous widow of Monsieur Grimaldi, late president of Figaro, at Buddha something, a restaurant adjacent to and underneath the Crillon. Then to Saint Tropez, and the Usual Magic.
I chronicle this because I have developed a devoted readership of at least one, and it's good to remember one's history while one still can. My love to all of you who have stayed on board, haven't fallen off, and the new friends. Life is a ... what? Pilgrimage? Sure. Certainly a challenge. But unquestionably a privilege, no matter what the New Yorker says.