Paris Nostalgia

Based on some conversations over the past couple of days, some memories of Paris have come back in a huge deluge. This was during the time of my travels as I was leaving my teens.

The cars on the old Metro lines still had wooden touches. When the doors closed, thin, metallic bars would somersault over to latch the doors, snapping to with a bold clic that could be heard across the carriage. It was practically Edwardian they were so old.

metro21

I was on my way, hopefully to see her again. I was staying at the Auberge de la Jeunesse. We slept in dormitories of 6 or 8 beds and paid 5 francs a night if I remember correctly. It was there I had my first café au lait. In the youth hostel they served it from bowls, along with your croissant. I remember my first taste of the café as if it were yesterday. The smoothness, the richness, which contrasted sharply with the chicory-infused coffee I had been exposed to in England at my last job. This was so delicious.

I had seen her, met her, talked to her the day before. I had caught her eye. She had grasped my fluttering heart. At the first glance she reminded me of Amy, her long, dark hair and relatively short stature served to bring my angst to the fore perhaps. She worked in a record store on the Left Bank. Her name was Françoise.

There is something I need to explain here. About Marty and Gallic women. They have this “thing” … apparently. An affinity for each other. That can turn into an attraction. And then a craving. It is often a full on irresistible force. So it started with Françoise. I’ve named her Françoise because she was a virtual clone of my then favorite French chanteuse, Françoise Hardy. That’s Françoise Hardy at around this time at the top of the post. Now, I’m sure you all can get a good feel for why Marty is drawn to these femmes fatales, but exactly what pulls them Marty’s way remains one big mystery. Perhaps it was the crooked smile or the flashing soft blues, possibly the fractured way he attacked the French language. Who’s to know? Certainly this recipe was much less successful with Teutonic women during my wanderings. They were probably put off by the lack of direction and purpose. Success with them required much greater diligence. But never French-speaking women.

But back to our story. I had entered the record shop the day before and was checking out the available LPs of French artists with whom I was familiar when Françoise approached, asking if I needed some help. One look at her and she was immediately subject to full-on crooked smiles and my best possible version of fractured French.

We hit it off and now I was on my way to visit her near the end of her work shift. We would get a glass of wine, perhaps later dinner … and then who knows?

In short, the wine was good. Dinner was fabulous. I learned that she would soon have her 22nd birthday. She lived at home with her parents.

But the following day she would have off from work. And we would meet at the nearby garret shared by her older sister and boyfriend. I learned more of French music and Françoise became much more knowledgeable about the American music scene than she had been.

And I would learn to make love to a vital, nubile young French woman. Without hesitation, with no prospects of a future.  I would understand that what was offered was but of that moment. Yet it would be timeless and unforgettable.

Françoise was the first French woman I had ever bedded. Fortunately and grâce à Dieu, she would not be the last. When I left Paris 2 days later, I was on a roll.

 

Contact Info (5) … Looking For The Past

Past-Street-Sign-Featured[1]This is a followup to my post about receiving the contact info of a very long ago girlfriend, Amy. You can read the first post here , the second can be found here , the third is located here, and the most recent is right here.

I stopped in my tracks and opened my arms. Amy slid between them, and reached up and hugged me … hard … like she had always done those so many years ago. I held her close. Then kissed her cheek. At last!

I’m fairly tall. And Amy is very short, but solid. Nothing had changed over the years. As a teenager and young woman, her dark hair had been long down her back. Now, still dark as promised, it extended only to her shoulders. She hugged me tightly.

“It’s so wonderful to see you, Marty.”

“Amy, you look great!” I replied.

“Oh Marty! So do you.”

“Come, let’s get a drink,” I said.

We strolled into the bar, and the hostess found us a table near the tall windows. Amy ordered white wine and I chose a beer. We just looked at each other for a few minutes, both smiling. Amy rested her head on my shoulder.

“Where do we begin?” Amy asked.

“How about when we last saw each other?” (I had asked her in an email if she remembered that. Sadly, she did not).

I said “It may be you won’t want to remember. I was staying at Paul and Mary’s when you and Tom came over.” Paul and Mary were married friends of ours who lived close to where Amy was living at the time. Tom would become Amy’s first husband.

“Oh,” she said. “I tend to block out anything to do with that time with Tom”. She had married Tom, but that had ended in a very adversarial divorce not too many years later.

Then she told me how she had been the “other woman” for 13 years to her next door neighbor in the little town she then lived in. This fascinated me because, when I knew her, she was anything but the radical. Fairly prim and proper. I admitted to being very surprised.

Eventually she married that man and they’re still together. But he has serious illnesses. She then told me of their dream property they had bought, and invested heavily in with some overseas contacts. How the contacts had cheated them, and now she and her husband had lost everything. They had no financial security, no retirement savings. And a devastating fire a year ago had eliminated most of their remaining personal assets.

I looked into her green eyes that so sparkled those many years ago. Maybe it was the dimness of the light … but I saw no sparkle. Still, she smiled weakly and invoked the Buddha.

“Life is difficult. When we accept that life is difficult, it becomes less so.”

I looked at her and could tell that truthfully there was no sadness, but neither was there much joy. I held her hands as she opened up more about her life, and what she felt she was missing. We chatted a bit about old friends. She was surprised at how many I was in contact with still.  She regretted not keeping up.

She started to get excited as she said ” … and I’m going to touch base with Andy and catch up on all the things he has been up to over the years. I heard how well he had done in business. We were so close for so long!”

Andy, our age, had been a neighbor of hers growing up. They were always in the same class all through school, and had been the closest of friends.

“I’m sorry, Amy. Andy died 4 years ago. From cancer.”

I watched the tears quickly rise in her green orbs, then overflow, and creep ever slowly then to crawl downward in rivers on both sides of her still stunning face.

“I didn’t know,” she whispered. “It’s all too late now.”

I changed the conversation and talked about about some of the activities I’m involved in. Amy surprised me … she confessed she periodically googles my name, and was even aware of my Twitter account. I was shocked.

“But you never contacted me?”

“No,” she said sheepishly. “I don’t know why not. I should have.”

We reminisced some more, and she made me laugh.

“Oh Marty! I so love your smile. I’m so happy to see that hasn’t changed.”

It was my turn to be sheepish.

Then she said, “I know I was so shallow as a teenager. I was all about being popular.”

“Yes, Amy you were very popular. I was so timid, despite being so crazy about you, I could never take that next step. And all teenagers are shallow, that’s what a teenager does.”

“No, you were never shallow, Marty. I always admired that in you.”

I’m sure I smiled to that. And I wondered if she knew how much I appreciated that little compliment.

We talked on. For 3 more hours and a few additional drinks. Nothing was awkward. Nothing was sacred. It felt so comfortable. Close, touching.

Yet something was not right. Not as I would have expected. I was feeling a little confused. Confused with myself.

Where was the fire in my loins for Amy? Was there even a spark? The Marty, who is so used to his thoughts of lust around attractive women was missing. But yes, there was a spark. And I could feel an eagerness in return from Amy. I’m certain I could have had her. Or at least gone to her room for a nightcap.  And then seen what would have happened.

But I didn’t. I didn’t feel the need. The wont was absent.  As the clock approached midnite I begged off, mentioning that I had a morning out of town appointment the next day which required my early rising.  Clearly disappointed, Amy said she understood. We clasped hands and she kissed my cheek.

After the tab was paid, we inched our way back to the front desk and then a final embrace.

And promised to stay in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Info (4) … It All Comes Together

This is a followup to my post about receiving the contact info of a very long ago girlfriend, Amy. You can read the first post here , the second can be found here and the third located here.

Amy and I arrange to meet at her hotel …

We exchanged several emails back and forth while she made her way towards my town on the train. Mostly some quick catch up on the missing 40 years since we had seen each other. She asked who I was still in contact with from our high school days, and she was amazed at the list.

“I have tremendous regret for losing touch with all the amazing friends I had then.  Huge mistake,” was her response. In essence, she had walled herself off from her past for these many decades.

I asked her if she remembered the last time we were in each other’s presence. Amy confessed she did not. Now that was a bit crushing, since I remember it so vividly.

“When was it?” Amy asked me.

“I’ll tell you about it when I see you,” I said.

We laughed back and forth wondering how well we’d recognize each other. She claimed to really have no grey hair yet. Even she was surprised. I chuckled and told her I was now “arctic blonde.”

“My train is arriving!” Amy wrote back. “I’ll be out of communication for a while. I have to check into the hotel and then head right out for my gathering.”

With that, I got back to work. Soon enough it was time for me to leave for my evening appointment.

It would be far from incorrect to say I didn’t obsess about meeting Amy in the past. I had wanted to see her again for so many years. Those so many decades ago when I was wandering, I had often thought of her nonstop. And as she reminded me, I had written her many letters. And now we would see each other.  Strangely, I was already feeling a little “let down”. Let down, because I was disappointed in my lack of overwhelming enthusiasm.

“What’s wrong with me?” I wondered. “Why am I not over the moon right now?”  I bewildered myself. Why was I not nervous at all? Sure, I was looking forward to this. But damn I was being calm!

Pretty much on schedule, my activity was done … Hi there. I’m just finishing up. What’s up with you? … I texted.

… I’m all done – a very few people left here. I’ll head to the bar in a few minutes. What works for you? … she texted back.

… I’ll be there in 15 or 20 minutes. Meet you in the bar? … I responded.

… Sounds good …

15 minutes later I was at the hotel’s front door.  The bar was on the immediate right. I headed in.  I searched all the faces in the bar. Clearly, Amy wasn’t there  … or did I just not recognize her? No, she wasn’t there.

I exited the room and headed toward the front desk. Maybe there was another bar? Then, as I strode around the corner, there she was! She saw me the same instant I saw her. She ran towards me.

I stopped in my tracks and opened my arms. Amy slid between them, and reached up and hugged me … hard … like she had always done those so many years ago. I held her close. Then kissed her cheek. At last!

To be continued …

 

 

 

 

Contact Info (3) … Message from the Universe

This is a followup to my post about receiving the contact info of a very long ago girlfriend, Amy. You can read the first post here and the second is here

Then I relaxed a bit. And wondered how long I would wait for a response. If even there would be one.

After I sent the email, I went back about my tasks, and didn’t really think much more about Amy.  Well, that’s a small fib. She did cross my mind, and I was curious what she would think when she read my note. And how long it would take her to answer, if she did.

14 minutes later, this arrived

“Holy smoke!  Huge flashbacks!!
I could never forget you, Marty!!”

Ah, well that was quick! And dare I say, somewhat positive at least. I read further …

“This is awesome because I was recently going through a box from long ago and I found old letters from you when you were in Europe.  I was back to that time in an instant!  Such fond memories of you.”

Whoa! Hold on here. She has letters from me from this time when I was traveling? And she recently reread them? Isn’t that something! These “letters” would actually be aerograms. I know most of you won’t know what these were, but think of the flimsiest  paper imaginable (to save on air transportation costs), colored a light blue, and prestamped. As I recall there were 4 sides you could write your “letter” on, then they would be folded up, a tab licked and sealed. She still has these flimsy pieces of paper from over 4 decades ago? This is becoming very interesting.

“Right now I’m sitting in the train station heading to a conference. I’ll email you later this evening when I’m finished with the stuff I have to do.  We’ll catch up.  Is that OK?”

My mind went numb. I have eliminated from her  words the town where her conference would be happening. That’s because it’s MY town! Amy is ready to board a train headed for where I live. But she doesn’t know that because in my emails I have not mentioned where I reside.

I swallowed hard. Now I’m excited. And very unsettled. Because this is now at a place where I have no control. And that makes me uncomfortable. We exchange several more emails. I tell her my location, and that coincidentally I too have an event to attend this evening downtown. Less than 5 minutes from Amy’s hotel. And I shall be finishing about the same time as her initial gathering will break up.

Ponder this for a moment faithful Reader. Amy is one of those “who got away”. A girl who occupied my thoughts fairly significantly until I met Kate. A girl I last saw on a date perhaps 45+ years ago and whom I hadn’t seen and heard from in 40 years. Who recently had a chance meeting with one of my best friends in an emergency ward in a rural hospital, and gave him her contact info. Who on the day I decide to write her is boarding a train to my town and will arrive in several hours. Where our evening schedules overlap not 5 minutes apart.

I feel helpless. There are no choices to make here. Only instructions from some invisible force to follow.

Amy and I arrange to meet at her hotel …

Contact Info (2) … Should I?

This is a followup to my post about receiving the contact info of a very long ago girlfriend, Amy. You can read the first post here.

You knew, of course, thoughtful Reader that I would contact her. But how would I open it? We are talking 4 decades since any type of contact.  Rachel asked in the last post if I had tried to find her on Facebook. I had, of course, many years ago. Google searches in the past revealed a bit of her professional life, but nothing significant on a personal level.

And let’s remember, she had never tried to contact me, and my online profile while not outlandlishly extensive, is not hidden either.  So she obviously had never felt the need to initiate any sort of contact.

I stared at the sheet with all the contact information.

I thought.

I tried to be logical.

Did I WANT to contact her?

Yes.

What was I expecting in response?

Unknown. At minimum a friendly “hello” and perhaps a brief email catching up after all these years. At maximum? BIG unknown. I’d just go with the flow.

What if she doesn’t answer?

Well, that would be an answer, wouldn’t it?

If I heard nothing back within a week or 10 days, would I try again?

No!

I started writing the email. The first line was extremely lame.

“Hello Amy! Perhaps you might remember me. But then again, perhaps not.”

Lame in so many ways … most glaringly in the fact that I knew full well she would remember me.  But I hoped she would take it in the vein it was intended … jocularly.

The rest of the email was rather nondescript … mentioning that her contact info had been given me by my friend who encountered her by chance in a hospital emergency ward. And I hoped the years had been kind.

I sent it off.

Then I relaxed a bit. And wondered how long I would wait for a response. If even there would be one.

 

 

 

Contact Info

I’ve been staring at it for 10 days. Off and on. And not every day. But sometimes for an unusually long time. The paper sits mixed among the scattered piles of paper on my (to the untrained eye) very messy desk.  Right there underneath a recent P&L statement I was looking at, next to an outline of a project I am grappling with, and shielding me from some invoices I need to pay.

When I first saw it, I recognized the penmanship of course, even though I haven’t seen it in almost 50 years. Neat, tight, and clear, as I imagine it always has been. Name (including nickname back then) in block letters. Home telephone number. Mobile number. Email address with a ” * ” beside it. Then another email contact point. Finally, a long rural home address printed neatly in block letters.

“It” was given to me by one of my closest friends after we had said our final goodbyes to another. He filled me in on the chance encounter. They both had been in the emergency department of a rural hospital, and despite the travails causing each of them to be there, the serendipity of their crossing paths didn’t escape them. Our home town was hundreds of miles away and eons in the past.

I was so different then. I often chuckle at the innocence and most surprisingly at the timidity I exhibited as a teenager. I know we all mature and grow, but we do so in various ways and to different degrees.  There is much of me that is vastly different to when I was 17. I’m certain we all can say that, of course,

We dated. Quite a bit. But Amy was one of the most popular girls in her year. Beautiful and tiny. Long dark hair down her back, with sparkling green eyes. She and her two siblings were near-certified geniuses, too. She had a long line of suitors from not only our school, but several other schools throughout the city. All better looking than me I felt, most more athletic. She liked me, of course. Heck she wouldn’t have spent so much time with me, given all her choices, if she didn’t. But I wasn’t confident enough then to push and pursue.  And I dated several others, too. We saw each other a few times while we attended different colleges, 500 miles apart. But that never works and it didn’t.

I’m still staring. What will I do? Well, dear Reader, you and I both know what I will do. But when? What will I say? And will she answer?

 

Shy Never Got Me Anywhere … again

I have decided to revisit certain posts from time to time. Call them a Marty-Replay.  Posts I like. Or I’m happy with how they were written and catch the moment just right. Or are particularly relevant even now. But mostly that I like. Here’s the 3rd.  As I contemplate the Between The Times series I find it worthwhile to remember how Marty was before.

When I was a freshman at university one course I took was Biology. I hated Biology. Except I looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:30, the times for my biology lecture or lab.

And as you might guess, it was because of a woman. I was kind of lonely my freshman year, certainly the first term. I missed the girl friends I had had in high school. Particularly one special one who was a year younger than me. She would occasionally come to my university to visit that term, and I went a couple of times to where her older brother was at college to meet. But it just wasn’t the same.

And there was this girl in Biology. She was a dead ringer for Katharine Ross. You know, quiet, laid back, brunette goddess Katharine Ross from The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame. I was nuts over Katharine Ross, as any red blooded American teenager would have been.  Her dark haired beauty, long tresses,  and understated smouldering sexuality were pretty riveting.

So Biology Hottie was always on my mind on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I was much too shy to do anything about it. Out of the corner of my eye I would watch her, and I could tell she was also watching me. In lab, we never sat together, but always exchanged smiles and looks. But never words.

Had it been a year later, I am certain she would have been a regular visitor to my bedroom. Because the next year I learned how to jettison my timidity. I may get to those stories some time. I hope to.

I took the year after Freshman year off and learned oh so much. That year was a lab of its own … for learning the inner workings of the female of your species.

When I returned to campus a year later I kept an eye out for Biology Hottie. My whole 3 years back I never saw her once. Because if I had …. well, you know … And being so shy, I never knew her name, not even her first name. So all my skills of internet search are useless in trying to find this beauty who got away.

So being shy never got me anywhere. That’s why I’m not shy around women any more. I think it’s time to watch Butch, Sundance, and Etta again don’t you think?.

An Offer Not Sampled … Part III Conclusion

slow-dancing[1]

Here is the 3rd and concluding installment of my story about my neighbor Becky. In case you need a refresher, here is part 1  And here is part 2

You have to understand. Becky is attractive. Becky is sexy. Becky is fun loving. But Becky is oh, so conservative. What she was doing was so unlike her! And don’t forget, this was a neighborhood back yard party.

I think I began to sweat. Not for me, of course, but for Becky. If her husband found out how she was behaving, what might he think? What would his attitude going forward be towards me?

I looked around. To my surprise, no one seemed to be watching. The Baptists, including the nosie-parker husband, seemed to have already left. Everyone else was either dancing, had their face in their drink, or were too far away in the dim light to really see the action going on in front of my table. And my neighbor seated beside me, Jimmy, wasn’t going to be spilling any beans. I could count on that. Whew! I’d lucked out so far.

Just then the music changed, and a romantic slow song came on. I can’t remember the tune, but what I certainly do remember is Becky coming around the table, and almost forcibly getting me up to dance with her. We had hands on each others’ hips, which allowed a one foot separation between our bodies. That was good. I felt strange, in that I was quite comfortable with Becky, while at the same time, feeling very uncomfortable. On reflection, I chalked it up to being fine with her, but sensitive to the possible neighborhood gossip. Our conversation went something like this:

Becky – “At last I have you up dancing. I thought it would never happen.”

Marty – “Well you know I would love to dance with you. I just hate the gossip that might come out of it.”

Becky – “Oh don’t be silly, Marty. Nothing’s happening. We’re all good friends here.”

Marty – “Uh-huh”

Meanwhile I am looking her up and down. I mentioned the dress, right? And I know my growing erection has been noticed. We’re just too near each other for it not to have been. I’m not embarrassed, of course, that I have a hard-on and I know Becky knows. We’re both adults. I feel confident she is pleased.

Becky- “We’re good friends aren’t we Marty?”

I swallowed hard. “Yes, of course we are, Becky.”

Becky- “Well, maybe we should get friendlier.”

While I really liked where I thought this was going, I actually didn’t like where I thought this was going.

“Umm, maybe you’ve had a few too many gin and tonics, Becky.”

“Maybe I have” her eyes twinkled back.

And with that, we both decided it was probably wise to call it a night.


I thought of that evening 4 years ago as I chatted with Becky on her lawn. How she and her husband split, sold their lovely house and divorced. And now, Becky introduced me to her new fiance who had just driven up.

As he and I checked each other out, my analytical mind began to calculate. Was I wise to have not pursued things? Their marriage was already on the ropes undoubtedly, so any involvement I would have had with Becky wouldn’t have changed the outcome. And she would have been lovely to have. But I would not have known that. When Becky and her husband broke up, I would have had in the back of my mind some guilt, feeling that I must have had a role. So things were probably better as they were.

But then I also thought of the future. A bit longer term. I’m thinking Becky and I are going to stay in touch. Stay good friends. Because the future can last a very long time. And I have a feeling the fiance might not last.

 

 

 

An Offer Not Sampled … Part II

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Here is the 2nd installment of my story about my neighbor Becky. In case you need a refresher, here is part 1

Well it wasn’t too long until I returned to the outdoor party. I forget … did I mention Becky was wearing a slinky dress? I hope I did, because I may mention it again. It’s bound to come up.

As I walked up the driveway to the backyard where the party was still going strong, I saw Becky glance up and watch my approach. A big smile lit up her face.

“You were gone so long!” she pouted.

“No, I wasn’t” I countered with a smile.

She had had the time to quaff several adult beverages by that time of the evening. And in the Japanese-lantern illumination of the late evening, she was positively glowing.  She danced briefly with some other neighbors, as I watched attentively.

She could see I was watching … I watched her watching me if you know what I mean.

When a break in the music came, she made her way over to the table I was sharing with another male neighbor.  Becky was perspiring as a result of he full-tilt boogying and the warm evening temperature. She giggled as she plopped down beside me.

“When are you going to dance with me? she asked straight out. While usually conservative and quiet, tonight the booze had dispatched her everyday caution and professional-level subtlety on vacation. This girl was primed!

I hoped my wink and my smile hid the gulp in my throat I was experiencing. She had lain her tawny locks on my right shoulder as she spoke. Frankly, I was a bit taken aback. We had never been so forward with each other, and yes, there was another neighbor present. I couldn’t (or shouldn’t!) lose sight of that fact.

“Well?” she asked again as her cute nose and grey eyes looking up confronted me.

“You’re going to have to give me a minute,” I answered, stalling for time, for what reason I haven’t a clue.

“OK, I’ll wait for you, Marty,” Becky snickered.

Just then the music restarted with a lively song and Becky rose from her chair and began dancing right in front of my chair. I mentioned, right, the slinky dress? I thought so. At least I hope so, because right at that point all I could think of was Becky in that dress, the movement of her hips, and thoughts of getting her out of that dress.  I barely had time to tun and glance at my neighbor sitting at the table with me, to see his reaction. He smiled and looked away.

My private dancer continued to shimmy … the hips never taking a breather. My eyes were transfixed. Becky pranced, she dipped, she bent over, she pirouetted, she pressed her navel button to near my face. She had my full attention. I had no thoughts of her husband. I’m betting neither did Becky.

Other parts of my anatomy were also paying attention. My jeans’ cloth gripped more firmly. I mentioned Becky’s tight fitting dress, did I not? Fortunately the light was so dim, I doubt anyone noticed my growing erection.

The final installment coming soon!

 

An Offer Not Sampled

ff_holmes_large[1]My, but I was in a good mood! The laid back, outdoor patio, weekend brunch had been excellent; the conversation with old friends stimulating; the sudden warmth in the air invigorating after such a miserable spring so far. I was enjoying my walk back home. I had just finished texting Cassandra how good life was.

And there she was! Standing on her front lawn talking to someone in a car stopped in front of her house. I had had an email from her several weeks previous about some changes she was going through, advising me on her new coordinates. It had been probably 18 months since I had laid eyes on her. She looked radiant.

I slowly meandered over her way, not wanting to interrupt her conversation, but also not wishing to pass up the chance to chat. Becky had been a neighbor for several years, and we had become somewhat close-ish. Not too close mind you, because she was married after all.  And I liked her husband. But I always recognized the enhanced electrical energy running through her when I was around. She would always just light up. And truth be told, she got my adrenaline up a notch, too. But playing with a neighbor’s wife wasn’t something I was prepared to do.

Becky  is, in case you haven’t guessed, very attractive. Though she doesn’t have the curves I’m partial to, she, in fact, is a doppelganger for a famous TV/movie actress. If I think of this actress in about 10 years time, she’ll be Becky’s better built twin. But Becky’s daughter is the actress’s even better built sister. I swear the three of them could be the same hottie at different ages (the daughter, the famous actress, and Becky)… say 23, 38, and 48.

What a minute … thinking of those three together is making me lose my train of thought. Oh right! I need to give you some more background.

Four years ago there was a neighborhood lawn party. Where some neighbors let down their .. ahem … hair. You see Becky’s husband left the soiree early, and my date wasn’t feeling well, so I took her home and returned. Before I took my date home, I had promised Becky I’d be back. No hanky panky with an unwell woman happening that night I assured her.

I promised Becky I’d be back ASAP … and I promise you the same. As soon as I can …