Sunday, February 11, 2007
A quick-silver spark
like a diamond’s prism
Aphrodite’s silver arrow
turns this cafe bar
into the galaxy.
Reality escapes me.
it hits its mark,
the dark night
of my heart.
(A poem I wrote one night in the Latin Quarter)
"The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are."
Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822 "Adonais" st 55
Sometimes I think I ought to have been a romance writer because I am so inclined to romanticize even casual aspects of my life. I tried once. But frankly romance novels aren't really a genre I read a lot of (if any), though I know romance writers are enormously successful.
"If a (wo)man, sitting all alone, cannot dream strange things, and make them look like truth,
(s)he need never try to write romances."
Nathaniel Hawthorne 18804-1864 "The Scarlet Letter" (1850) "The Custom House."
It's not that I don't have constant romantic thoughts. I do. And yes, in my historical writing I try to weave in 'romance' wherever possible. In my own life, I'm a dreamer, and always have been. I have had my share of beautiful, romantic moments and relationships (and a broken heart). When I am bereft of romance I feel an emptiness inside. Perhaps that's why occasionally I have to let my imagination run rampant.
"A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." Jane Austen 1775-1817 "Pride and Prejudice" (1813)
The other night, I went out alone (as I usually do) to my favorite hangout, the Latin Quarter.
I've been indoors hibernating for most of the last month or so, aside from going to teach my night school classes a few times a week. In the past month I've written seven new travel stories, and as I went back over the old travel blogs, I've relived those (sometimes romantic) moments of travels in Turkey and Greece. Friday night, desite the rainy weather, I thought it was time to take myself out to listen to some romantic Latin music, see a few friends. Unusual for me to actually have to 'talk myself into' going out. I've been quite content to stay home with the fire blazing, working away at my computer. Anyway, it all turned out to be a good idea...good for my romantic soul, if anything. And I even did a little salsa dancing.
It turned out there were a few friends there who I hadn't seen in quite awhile so I was warmly greeted and welcomed. I have not been going to the L.Q. so frequently of late. Nor have I passed by the familiar places where memories of A. so vivid linger in my mind. As soon as the music played, I felt his spirit there and started to feel nostalgic sad again, because I miss his smile, his charismatic presence. But fortunately there were other distractions -- the appearance of the most gorgeous guy in the world...the Tunisian, who has been absent for a very long time. My, my, my.... What a delicious surprise. To describe this lovely Adonis: he is tall, (looks a lot like Antonia Banderas), elegant and well-spoken. He's Tunisian/Italian (I'd guess mostly Italian) and noted around the scene as one of the 'bad boys' (just the kind I'm always attracted to.)
We had a little chat and he informed me he had moved to the suburbs to be near his son, went back to university and is now teaching French. As he was leaving he stopped to give me a hug and a kiss. Ahh....that made my night! (*sigh!)
I have met some lovely men at the L.Q. Because I'm the older woman, perhaps intriguing because I'm a traveller and writer, I can observe and romanticize all I like from my perch at the bar, and not get deeply involved. But oh! I should be using these Adonises in my novels.
There is one who I call the Babylonian, who is actually a character in my Shadow of the Lion.
I spotted him one night several years ago and was astounded because he resembled exactly the character of Nabarzanes, the Persian Court Advisor, one of the ficitonal characters I had written about. I was intrigued, guessed that he was definitely from the Middle East. Turned out he was from Baghdad (Babylon) and, as he says "Sumerian", not Arab. (He looks exactly like the carved figures of Sumerians found on the walls of Nebucadnezzar's palace.) He's an artist, exiled from Iraq because he was on Sadaam's hit-list. He and I have become very good friends.
In fact, I saw him at the L.Q. the other night too, with his girlfriend. It's always such a pleasure.
The only one absent Friday was the French chef, another one of those beautiful people who I secretly romanticize about, one who, like the Tunisian, takes my breath away! He and I met one night not long before A's illness and death. He has been so kind and thoughtful, always affectionate and very generous with me. I used to run into him on the street sometimes when I lived at the other place and those unexpected meetings would make my day!
So you see? I have lots of material for romantic fiction. And maybe one day they'll show up in my novels. In my other w.i.p. Dragons in the Sky, I based the romantic hero Teague on a man I'd had an affair with (who happens to be a good friend to this day). And when I started that novel, which is a Celtic tale with an Alexander connection, I was seeing an intriguing Palestinian who used to sit and spin yarns with me over glasses of wine, after which I'd spend days writing like crazy. Khadar was my literary catalyst. He used to tease me and say "I don't want to be part of your novel!" But in some ways he was part of it, because he inspired me so much.
Ah, Adonis! The truth is, I need some 'romance' in my life ... a romantic muse... Here it is coming up to another Valentine's Day which I'll spend alone with my fantasies. Well, I can dream, can't I?
(She signs off singing the Shirley Bassie hit "For all the men I loved before...." )
"To her own heart, which was shaped exactly like a valentine, there came a winglike palpitation, a delicate exingency, and all the fragrance of all the flowing springtime love affairs that ever were seemed waiting for them in the whiskey bottle."
Jean Stafford 1915-1979 "Children are Bored on Sundays." (1952) title story