It was a tense time in Egypt. But then, when hasn’t it been? Anwar Sadat ruled with a velvet fist and things seemed secure, though every bridge and important building was guarded by the military or heavily armed national police. The Brotherhood was deemed a constant threat, along with other more militant religious groups, plus a fear that radical Palestinians could mount attacks. In fact, it would not be many years before Sadat was assassinated by one of those groups of militants.

I was interested, of course, intently so, at the history I knew was unfolding around me. I couldn’t know though the details, or the lasting impact these times would have.

I made my way upriver from Cairo, primarily by train in 3rd class, getting off wherever the urge beckoned. My adventuresome spirit returned for a short interval and I made sure to stay only in minus 2-star hotels. I remember writing  Kate from one of those hotels. We had been together the last time I had visited the Arab world, and I spilled out to her what I was seeing, mixing in those thoughts with the adventures we had had. I reveled in the sights, the culture, the way the Nile was the basis for all.

It was not that far north of Aswan that I ran into Michel and Andy. They were a gay couple, but obviously, given the times and the location, they were circumspect about it. Michel was a Lebanese architect, and Andy was an American psychologist. Apparently they had met at the Sorbonne, and had been together 5 or 6 years when I met them.

Led by Michel, they were intent on improving the life of Egyptians through better use of traditional building methods for houses. This meant improving mud brick construction. That was their dream anyway. When I met them they were erecting several significant sized structures, using manual labor, and only mud bricks. They were working on methods to improve cupolas, and each of their buildings would feature several.

Nearby was the “brick works” … the flat area where the actual mud bricks were made by hand, then left to bake in the 130+ degree F sun. Michel described the process to me. He emphasized how the mud had to be mixed with straw and some camel dung to make sure the bricks were strong and would hold together and last.

I was carried back to these memories a few days ago. It struck me that it’s really only strands of the common and mundane, mixed with little pieces of shit that are what keeps it all together.

I See The Ghosts

I do, at this time of year.

They used to come screaming at me, full force, like a redlining 911 headed right for me, whining down the autobahn.

Until I had the revelation.

Now the phantoms are better behaved. But they visit yet.

I remember you running back to the car through the woods, an apparition of beauty waving your panties above your head in glee and anticipation.

I can still hear the roar of snowmobiles while waking one morning, then the next being roused by motorcycles thundering past an open window.

The dark shadow of my unthinking, uncaring self that Christmas Eve continues to haunt me. My heart still half believes that was the beginning of the end.

The magical mirage that was Malaga will always stay with me. We were so happy.

The apartment high overlooking the water that would be our last.

Yes the demons are better behaved. They’re silent now. But so devious. This year they ambushed when I least expected, two weeks after the email.

It seems they will never tire of reminding me where I have been.


The Tortoise Time Catches A Chameleon

They were so young, of course. Barely into their 20s.

The buried pain. The deeply felt inability to ever trust completely again. The resentment. This is where it all began.

Naturally, he blamed himself. The inattention. His single minded focus. Never there. When he was, hiding behind the daily news. Sure, he told himself, it takes contributions from both to end a relationship. No one party can shoulder all the blame. Nice sentiment, but he never bought into it.

And he had thought he had fixed all that.

It’s pretty near impossible to literally live 24 hours a day for a year with someone, never more than 10 feet away, and then one day discover you never knew them at all, is it not? How can that happen?

From the Sahara’s sands, nearly dying together, the frights in Algeria, to that crumbling hotel in Istanbul. The freedom of the beaches in Crete, the lights in Paris, the museums of Florence. The canals in Stockholm. They had fully experienced together so many highs and anxious bottoms. Surely no two people had ever been closer. Knew one another better. An impossibility. He knew that in his young heart.

Until it all ended so suddenly.  He had had fears something was coming, but nothing like this.

Now so many years later, there were no more questions. He could see there were no commonalities. It had all been nothing but a spectacular mirage. That was bad. To realize the heart can be so masterly deceived.

But the enormous guilt and shame he had carried since that time vanished like melting mist in the warm morning sun. This was monumentally good. He finally could get some understanding. His soul … at last …  felt released.

He hung up the phone; no need for further words. He couldn’t think of anything more to say in any case.

Hidden In Plain View

It was quite the place for a young man to spend the summer. The beaches, the bars and restaurants, and most of all the girls, in the process of becoming women.

She was becoming a woman. We were all still boys.

It’s not that I underestimated her; I just wasn’t paying attention. I really wasn’t interested in her at first.

Oh she was cute enough. But right at the beginning I was told she was “Miss Wholesome”. Proud of being a virgin. The virgin with the goddess’ figure.

Early after my arrival, it was Faye who caught my attention … what with her Southern accent, long dark hair and charming, disarming smile. Until she left for home. And then I hooked up with the Party Girl. She was fun, but much too skinny for what my 21-year old body wanted. So my friend from home and I switched playmates. That’s the only time I’ve done that, but I thought it worked out pretty well at the time. No muss … no fuss.

I had no idea she was closely watching with those hazel eyes and evaluating the whole time.

When she decided she wanted me though, she made certain I saw her every day in her bikini in the surf. It was quite a sight. Even to his day, every time I see a beach scene or the surf pounding, I picture her running through the waves, long loping strides, her tits bouncing and craving escape. And she never missed a night of drinking if she knew I’d be there. Eventually she caught my attention. And my focus.

When we were in the bar or back at my apartment, I loved the way she wrapped her arm around my thigh. No one had ever done that before. Or since. She was the only one. A signature move if ever there were one. We would sit sometimes for hours like that, downing our beers. When we were like that, I knew I would be the one to ruin her good girl image.  I knew she wanted me to. It was the first time I ever could feel and be so sure of something like that. That I knew exactly which way she was headed. And why.

Once we started, we were inseparable. I guess all young love is that way. But I had made my mind up I wouldn’t be falling in love. There would be too much distance, too many restrictions, too many complications.

But someone had a different idea.

Early In October

entrerriano[1]A recent post by Delusia triggered this memory. If you don’t read her regularly, you are missing a treat. She always gets me thinking. Here is the post that brought back this memory of suede skirts for me..

It was so long ago that early October day. I was waiting excitedly with my home town best friend for her plane to land. We would be spending the night at his apartment before we made the trek back to my college town 2 hours away. We hadn’t seen each other since late August, when she had left the resort area where we were working to head back home and get ready for the new college year.

I was  21. Kate was 17 months younger, but several years less experienced. She was still a virgin.

Two years before, I had left home, a relatively peach fuzzed adolescent, with only good will in my heart, but adventure and escape on my mind. 12 months, 12 countries, many girls and women and a world of experience later, I returned, far from sated, yearning for more.

The father, uncomprehending and enraged at the willfulness and ingratitude of the prodigal boy was a changed man, too, after that year. More communicative, less controlling, he also searched and yearned for release. Seven years further on he would find his. I like to think the boy-man was some modest inspiration.

When I had been first introduced to Kate, I thought she was cute, and sure had a fantastic body … but then, so what? She was tall and big boned, buxom, Amazon-like, with shortish hair. My preference had always been for long haired petites. In fact I was currently dating two dark haired beauties 5′ 2″ and 5′ 3″.  Kate was 5′ 8″.  And she at first appeared naive, and more than a little clueless. Not for me.  Besides, she was currently the girlfriend of a present roommate, so better not even think of going there.

But Kate had different ideas. Bottom line, she pursued me. She was into my maturity and worldliness. Such a joke no? A worldly 21-year old. Imagine actually thinking that! No one else she had ever met liked smelly cheeses, had ridden in a BMW, or knew what the heck a Peugeot was. These things were still several years from being commonplace on our shores. Oh, I was a little weird, too. I ran. Everyday. No matter the weather. People didn’t usually do weird stuff like that back then. I was perfect for a wide-eyed, venturesome, inquisitive co-ed from one of those uppity Eastern womens’ colleges.

After the roommate left town for good, I started considering my options. Gradually I realized that pretty head had a razor sharp mind inside. She was an accomplished tennis player, too. That made me nostalgic for the tennis I used to play as a young teen. Before I abandoned the game to take up golf. Because the junior member lounge at the golf club had an incredibly sexy college co-ed who waited on us on her school vacations. It wasn’t to be the last time I would veer off course chasing sexy, older women. But I digress from my story …

The rest of that summer Kate and I dated and spent every available afternoon and evening together. She liked to party, which was a natural fit with my attitude at the time.

We began to fall in love.

So here my friend and I waited in the arrivals section. My buddy was keen to meet her.

“What does she look like?” he kept pestering me.

“Like a Playboy model” I answered. This was when Playboy meant something to the young male, dear readers. “With legs that go on forever.”

“Holy cow! I can’t wait to meet her!”

Finally, the arrival doors opened. There she came! Strutting out. Looking exactly like a Playboy model … very short reddish-brown suede skirt showcasing her tanned, athletic quads and thighs, with a matching tight fitting vest, calf-length leather boots, and wearing a gaucho hat.

“Chrisssst,” my friend whispered. “You weren’t kidding!”

I gulped. Then ran over to hug her closely and kiss those lips I had missed for six weeks. She was stunning. I took her bag. I was very happy at that moment.

And so began another important stage in my life. Kate had a big role to play in it.

Will I write about more on Kate? Perhaps. But not now. Likely not for awhile. Maybe never We’ll see.