Saturday, June 07, 2014

A View with a Room

I would apologize to E. M. Forster if I were not sure he would be pleased that someone still thinks of him, in spite of what a good writer he was.  But I am secretly suspicious that if the gods have plans for us, this apartment would easily figure in.
    Almost everything in it is a puzzle, having been planned and flawlessly executed by the more fastidious of two gay lovers, still a very young man and already an elevated executive.  But as a cloddish woman, I have yet to figure out most of it, in spite of being exalted by the layout, lifted every time I come into the living room, from which I can observe the not very high skyline of Amsterdam across the way, behind a row of five-story storybook buildings,  bridges, and, just below, in the canal, a line of anchored boats being patrolled by ducks, I think they are, or very fat pigeons who have mastered the waterways.  I speak of them as 'who' rather than which, since I am missing only my pets.  The people in my life I treasure are all invited here to visit, since I have a flawless guest room, part of the somewhat constipated design.  Not that it is missing anything, but everything has its exact space, much of which I can't figure out in spite of having been shown twice.  "The rich are different from you and me," Fitzgerald said, to which Hemingway replied: "Yes, they have more money."  But the gays are different from you and me: Yes, they have tighter anuses.  Or maybe not.  
      But I have been here two days now and have yet to be able to master the DeLonghi Nespresso machine, or the brilliantly designed stove top that you have but to touch or something like that and it boils the water, turning on that burner only.  So I have been forced to make my coffee instant, using the tap that sends out boiling water, because that much I can do.
     Fano, the brilliant young (younger than my son) owner, no longer partnered with Raoul, who designed it all, including His and Her faucets at the dual wash-up sink, or maybe they're His and His, is very kindly coming over tomorrow night to have me sign the contract for the apartment and, I assume, go over all these things with me again, so I can function.  I have never felt so stupid, but at the same time admire my having found this place, which seems a flash of inspiration all on its own, something that will nurture me as other parts of the world have done in the past, as isolated as I have often felt.  Here I have already connected with a number of unlikely people, besides the great gift of Daniel, the openhearted free spirit I met on the plane here from Glasgow.  There is Paul, the Chinese doctor dispensing holistic herbs and martialing a room with a healing masseuse, having abandoned Western medicine because it has too many side effects, who I took to dinner last night at a restaurant I was trying to make feel effective, the last time I will be that generous, --the food was really terrible and overpriced.
      But it was only food.  Today I go to the home in the country of Prince from Jokja, a recently retired chef of "Cuisine Orientale' who will be moving back to Bali part time but found me "spontaneous," and invited me to lunch.  He was with a recently retired Dutch woman doctor who has been working with afflicted children. All of this feels more soul-enhancing than averting eyes in the elevator, which is what I mostly do in my building in New York.  
      I am looking at the cover of Living to tell the Tale, the Nobel prize-winning book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the only book I have brought with me besides my loved friend Rosie's.  The cover has him as an infant, adorable, eyes very wide.  My own eyes have gotten quite tired and-- surprise! old.  So I am saving them for writing and intend to read only the occasional International New York Times or whatever the hell they're calling it, having fired most of the dedicated journalists left in that arena.  My old (though still comparatively young) editor from the Wall Street Journal Europe, Jim Ruane, having won his lawsuit against Bloomberg, which (again! surprise!) turned out not to love writers, says he will come to visit me, and I hope so.  As I hope any or all of you who have read these posts will come to Amsterdam. 
     Not that I am lonely.  Strangely, having left far behind any hopes or dreams of romance, in this city of rampant erotica, I am curiously peaceful, with no great unsatisfied longings other than the one for writing something really meaningful.  My half-landlord, that is to say, one of the youngish owners, the gym-running proprietor, as opposed to the executive world-traveling Meester who seems to think of everything including an assistant for me, how elegant, was just here putting up a handle on the wall beside the bathtub so I could pull myself up without slipping, and it just fell down.
    Happily, I was not attached to it.  Well, that's the lesson of my loved teacher Jack: from attachment comes suffering.  Especially in a slippery bathtub.