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July 29, 2010

All I said, was that someone had said yes to an evening of bike riding, and we had gone riding, and that it was fun, and he seemed like a really nice man. Suddenly I discover just how heavily the tragedy of my single life has been weighing on psyches of my Buddhist cohorts for all these years. Who knew that the greater part of my spiritual entourage had been brooding over my being single to such an extent, hoping and praying like crazy that I would stop all this nonsense of fake happiness and compensating, and settling in place of living a real life, experiencing the only true happiness: sharing existence with another? The information came to me earlier in the day as a gift, gleefully rendered on the slight excuse of my having asked a related question about the relationship of another.
Afterward, I was able to just put it all aside as I had had to go out to Boulogne and sign a contract for some new work. And then I got fooled into thinking it was summer again today, though I should have known better; still, that sun-shiny-white-cloudy thing fakes me out every time. So I when I finish up in Boulogne, I call Randy, my home boy, and suggest another attempt at doing Paris Plage, which is this thing the rather tasteful gay mayor of Paris thought up to do every summer where you install a beach and boardwalk in the center of town so that a lot of waxed- chest other gay guys can sun under palms strategically placed along the George Pompidou expressway, which, as it happens, runs right under the windows of Paris city hall. That way, while he does his official mayor-type stuff, he can casually admire the enhanced view of man-flesh from the rather pompously large windows of the Hotel de Ville. But over time, the beach thing has sort of morphed into this other thing which is more like an endless sidewalk cafe, except along an expressway, which is actually a good thing, since the foolish Parisians have ridiculously chosen to locate a major expressway smack-dab along what could only be described as the most aesthetic and valuable property in the city. But thanks to Paris-Plage, for a few weeks each summer, you can stroll along this valuable real estate and admire the prospect of some of the greatest monuments on offer in Paris – and some really nice looking gay guys too – except with no cars, less noise, and more toilets; and some street musicians, and pretty bad food and beer; and, by the way, a few strategically placed palm trees.
So as we wanted to go there, the sun, of course went in, and kind of killed the summer atmosphere vibe, but we went anyway, for a couple of hours – Randy, and me, and this other pretty cool physical trainer-martial arts kinda guy named Earl. Earl told this hilarious story about throwing these two aggressive, drunk Arab hoodlums right off the subway and onto the platform, just as the doors were closing and this other guy that they had been aggressing (that’s franglais) was peeing his pants; and then this other story, where he stole the boom box out from under an entire orgy of drunken German tourists making way too much noise at a campsite where he and his family were staying somewhere in rural France so his wife wouldn’t think he was a chicken.
But I digress. Me and Randy and Earl ate some bad food, and drank some ok wine; fact is, it is very hard to be too miserable – even if it is a little on the cloudy side – when you are sitting across from the finest property in the city, looking out over the tourist boats churning the Seine, and the gorgeous facades of the Conciergerie, the Palais de Justice, and the Place Dauphine. With the Pont d’Arcole and the Pont Neuf framing the picture. And some street musicians, and break dancers, and mime guys, too.

So after we finished, and I left them to go off together to watch The Last Airbender (no fuckin’ way you’re getting me into another Night Shyamalan film after Lady in the Water, which I was not only smart enough to not see, but smart enough to realize that it was the sign that Night had come down with George Lucas syndrome, and begun believing in his own myth, not to mention succumbed to the head-bashingness of repetitive plot palsy where every film is like the other film kinda like the one before it too (no, it isn’t my dead wife/the aliens/the scary people in the bushes/an incredible and fortuitous stroke of luck that I survived the giant train crash – its… tun,tun,tuuuun… THE SIGNIFICANT AND SOULFUL UNEXPECTED INCONGRUITY… again!). I left them to it, and got on my train, and as I sat looking out over the evening glow of the Val de Marne and chuckling over the amusements of Paris Plage with the boys, the words of one of the cohorts I spoke about at the beginning of this story snuck back up and started me wondering. Am I not really enjoying any of this? Can I just go on fooling, deluding myself, enjoying the amusements and the happy friendship of evenings like this? Are all these just acts of compensation for the dark and desperate childless and spouse-less loneliness that lurks beneath?

All my French Buddhist friends seem to see this sad truth about lonely me, and are praying tirelessly for me to stop believing in all these crazy notions of having a great time, and get with the system. I’m supposed to get with the ticket, and realize that I am, in reality, a scorned and barren woman, in a country of PDA obsessed couples and relentlessly nuclear families from whose gravitational pull there is no escape ever; and that this persistent singleness is neither healthy nor natural for me. It is simply no way to live a proper and fulfilled life, and especially not at my age (54) when I’m supposed to be crying over empty nest syndrome and the loss of my husband to his mistress, and not this kind of thing.

The whole issue has struck a chord inside me, and churned up doubts so outside of the simple reaches of my wonderful experiences and the places where I have been living inside my head that I admit to being more than a little disturbed. When I look back over the years of enriching alternative education, or becoming a concert promoter at 20, and playing Bach and Vivaldi and Mozart on the violin in chamber groups and city symphonies in bygone days, and those adventures aboard ship in the Aleutian Islands, or moving abroad to Paris and becoming a chef, and sleeping in various chateaux, or hiking to the top of St. Victoire, and my cooking for two months in a beautiful villa in the golden countryside of Provence, and eating good bread and pastries and chocolate, and returning to the States and catering all the best parties for years and years, and learning to make the best butter cookies from a White House pastry chef in D.C., and going to the best apparel design school in the States in Seattle, and the finest couture school in the world in Paris, and distinguishing myself at both, becoming a chef then a business owner then a costume designer for musical comedies and then a teacher, then working in film, and training TV journalists, and my travels, and hobbies… and then take in the idea that the whole shebang can be chalked up to mere denial and compensation for never having found true love (well, I have found it several times, but it has never lasted long enough on the male side to come to much – and we can talk about that unflagging and systematic rejection some other time), well, gee. Wow. Who knew?

I am clearly missing out on some singularly outstanding experience, according to those in the know, if this – the compensating – has turned out, so far, to be so unendingly entertaining. Lord, in comparison, what unimaginable bliss being partnered must involve! It just boggles the mind; what is truly amazing is that all of the people who are privy to the “happy and normal” couples experience seem, on the whole, rather inclined to hide their glee; they are not exactly shouting their fulfillment from the rooftops. I mean, there has to be some serious and considerable dissimulating going on to be inside something that fantastic, yet chose to put on a public face at once so marvelously insipid, and so numbingly mundane.

Never mind my offering a defense of a perverse and persistent satisfaction with my life; it appears that this is merely proof of the degree and level of denial I am practicing. It seems I have done well in this regard, successfully masking the feelings of deep loneliness, isolation, and fear of death that constitute the “true” nature of my existence (at least according to some sources) and I am not able see my denial, though it be only all too apparent to those of the more learned eye. Indeed, to defend my contentedness is merely to more fully illustrate the depth of my denial and despair. I have become so inured to the fantasy,it would appear, that while out enjoying my life as a single, childless woman, I have actually come to believe that I am genuinely enjoying my life. The belief is so strong in me that I honestly feel happy and fulfilled a good deal of the time (with the usual quota of disappointments and setbacks one must tolerate, of course), enjoying my life a perhaps to even an unusual degree. I do practice Buddhism, after all. I mean, seriously – all this satisfaction with being single – is this sick, or what?

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