Tag Archives: romance

Mrs. Everett Goes to Italy

She had grown tired of dressing up. Somewhere — maybe in Pisa? — it had stopped being for her and started to be for an imaginary audience she couldn’t name.  Was it an expectation that hung in the air? An expectation or was it loneliness? She felt sad as she roiled in her own self-doubt, suddenly aware of how far she had journeyed out into the world alone with no lifeboat to take her back to a familiar dock. Gone. She was at sea in a makeshift identity that was taking on water fast.

She slipped on simple cotton flats instead of heels and pulled an A-line shift over her head that she had found in a market in Rome. It was a little tighter now through her ribcage but no matter–she wasn’t going out to impress anyone. She was going out to eat.

Italy had been good to her. She had left Eze and taken the Corail Lunéa night train to Nice then traveled Ventimiglia and on to Rome. Rome had been overwhelming and she had chosen the safe but predictable tours to explore the city: the Uffizi, Coliseum, Spanish Steps, and the Vatican. Tours that most people save a lifetime for had made her feel like a garish advertisement in her own life. “Look! Middle-aged woman in freshly-bought Italian shoes admires art!”. She had become a cliche in her own story.

With no plan other than to escape her tourist persona, she traveled to Puglia, landing in Bari and realizing at once she’d made a mistake. After the spectacle of Rome, Bari seemed like a working man in overalls. That wasn’t entirely fair; her stay at the Palace Hotel had been quite lovely and the staff, through a lot of gesticulation and broken english, were able to make one of her dreams come true: Drive a vintage MG. When she was a girl, her grandmother had a friend–they all knew it was a lover but no one was crass enough to name it as such–who would sometimes come by her school to pick her up in an old MG. On rainy days the snaps would drip down soaking the sides of the car and leaching into the ratty carpet that smelled of mould. She had loved it. She would ask  him to drive past her house and circle the block before dropping her off. The smell of gas, old leather, and burning oil was one that comforted her. She had always dreamed of owning an MG but Edward had crinkled his nose in disdain whenever she had approached him about the idea. “Why would you want to own a piece of shit when you can drive a car worth more than most people’s houses?” Always the pragmatist Edward, she said out loud and shook her head, remembering his sharp, condescending tone.

In an act of defiance against her old limitations, she’d rented a 1960 MG Midget and driven out of the mad traffic of Bari towards the Cilento Coast.

Image

Car from Sprintage, the most fabulous way to get around Italy. http://www.sprintage.it/en/tourism.phtml

She had driven in abject terror of being run over by trucks and aggressive drivers that honked at her, alternately gesturing for her to pull over or some absurd sexual reference. She had questioned her course of action up until she entered the Campania region, where the whir of Cyprus trees, smell of crisp, salt air and empty roads welcomed her road-weary little MG and rattled nerves. She drove down Route 267, a two-lane road that follows the Cilento coast, a far cry from the glamour and glitz of the south of France but it offered her a chance to slip into a new self she was yearning to become.

She stopped wearing makeup and simply wrapped a scarf around her head as she drove. She would pull over and look out at the fisherman dotting the shore beside centuries-old crumbling vestiges of history and buy a simple lunch of artichokes, mozzarella, tomato and olives. Something was cracking open inside her and she felt her calls with Edward were less Mr. and Mrs. Everett and more what? Prue and Edward, a thread of humanness emerging she hoped would grow back between them, though not into the rope that had once been their shared marital noose.

By the time she had reached the Amalfi Coast, she’d desperately needed to stop driving and take stock of what was next in her travel plans. Edward’s sister Mara had invited her down to Australia and she had to respond and consider what that might mean to her, to Edward, and for Mara whose relationship with Edward was amicable at best. Which is how she ended up at the Hotel Caruso in Ravello. She’d received some raised eyebrows as she pulled up in her now dust-covered little road warrior, headdress of matted hair and windblown scarf, olive-stained shorts and flip-flops. But it was an Orient-Express hotel and one thing she could count on was a refreshing welcome that was curious but not judgemental. It likely helped she’d paid up front for a week’s stay in cash.

Her room felt like a safe cave nestled into the side of the mountain. Similar to Eze, there was a strong Moorish influence everywhere: high pointed arches throughout her room and faded fresco painting on the ceiling and exposed stone gave her the feeling she was in a five-star museum. Until she lay on the bed. After a week of hard beds and utilitarian amenities, she luxuriated in the comfort of an Orient Express bed story. She longed to fall into sleep but knew she couldn’t until she found something to eat.

She didn’t feel like dressing up to out to dine; it was true, her days on the road had given her freedom from her years of a pristine couture uniform. Her Valentino heels now felt painful and awkward her feet. She wriggled her toes and flexed them against her simple cotton flats bought at a roadside stand and decided take a walk and explore the hotel in her, what Edward would likely call it, ‘hippie chic’ attire.

She could hear music coming from the restaurant as she walked towards the terrace. The sun was cuddling up to the ocean and everything seemed to have a softly blurred layer over it; even the white wrought-iron fence that lined the terrace seemed to dissolve into the blue of the ocean below and beyond. She could smell lemon and fresh-cut rosemary and realized she ached for a long, complicated meal to take her through the night. Blue twilight gave the tablecloths a graphic look, as they’d only now been illustrated and were waiting for characters. Dinner was clearly over she noticed with a tinge of panic. She felt her stomach lurch with hunger and wondered if she would get a conciliatory offer of what was still available from the chef.  That was when she saw Ludano.

(Here’s a little video from the Hotel Caruso to give you a feel for where Prue is at. Escape. Enjoy! Note the full transmedia version of this chapter will be posted soon at http://www.whatisyourstory.ca so keep an eye out!)

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Transmedia Spring

Artists are always making fools of themselves. It is required. Fail fast. Fall on your face. Test out boundaries. How else can you produce anything original? As some of you who read my blog may know, I’m writing a year-long transmedia travel story about a woman named Mrs. Everett. She’s adventuring around the world, having left her husband, whom, she has recently been informed, has been having an affair for 9 months with a very young woman by the name of Violet. The tricky part is all their messy financial, no wait, his (Edward is his name) messy financial situation as happens with extremely well-off people who are discovered having an affair. But to know more you’ll have to go read the chapters and follow it along on Facebook or start with the prose version at http://www.whatisyourstory.ca. Be Prue’s friend! She is on her way to Eze, France at the moment but would love some advice for traveling in that part of the world.

Here’s a poem written and spoken in the character of Prue about her husband and about discovering the ‘eternal sunshine’ within herself. I risk sounding like an idiot but I have to support the story so here is her (my), our, latest poem in the story.

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Filed under Fiction, Transmedia

Secret love letters, notes on a pillow, roller coasters and dance cards

I’m writing a fictional love letter for a wedding show today. It’s a fun little job for a dear friend (Christine Smart of Smart Events) who is the mastermind behind a brilliant destination collective, called appropriately, the Victoria Wedding Collective. I am smiling to myself because I am writing as a man to a woman. I go into my own archives for inspiration to sift through the best love letters (yes, I keep them, and you should keep yours too). What made them great? What made them bypass judgement, doubt, insecurities, fear  or obstacles and zip straight into my heart like a well-sharpened arrow?

Timing is a big part of it. Too soon and you aren’t ready for the weighty words, too late and well, it’s too late and no one is bothering to read your pithy letter. Sincerity of voice–very important quality. Too saccharine and I don’t believe you, too reserved and I’m not emotionally invested. Language. The ultimate measure of a good love letter is the language. Now, I’m not referring to grammar but rather the secret language between you and your loved one. That is what makes love so special after all , that certain little bubble you both inhabit where you have your secret language only you know. When you can speak to one another in this way then that is when great love letters are written. They could be a small note on a pillow. In a pocket. Or tweet even but it has to be in your secret language that is spoken to no other.

I have an old scrapbook of my mother’s and in it are her dance-cards from the 40’s. There’s one with a little note on it that says, ‘Until the next dance my dear, J. xo‘. My mother once admitted to me, not long before she died, that she had desperately loved a man named Jack before she met my father. She went on in a sort of reverie, describing a time they rode a rollercoaster and how it felt at the top, laughing and holding his hand and I was taken aback as I watched her eyes that had wandered far back in time to a love that meant so much to her. I was shocked because my mother was such a stalwart supporter of my father all my life. It was like a door had opened to a storyworld of a different woman in a different life. Sadly, Jack died in the war and I think my mother likely never entirely repaired from it. This small note was all that was left of their love story and I treasure it. Of course I’m thankful she met my father, but this small secret world of hers and Jack’s is inspiring me to as I write this letter for my friend’s show. I think it could blossom into a longer narrative.

Love letters contain our hearts, with small, hopeful sails on them, sent off to sea with our deepest desire that they reach the shore. Sometimes they do. In my letters, I think they will.

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On sex, chat lines, diamonds & why I’m not married

Well, I thought I had read nearly every inflammatory, ridiculous theory on women in their 40’s who aren’t married until I recently had the ‘experience’ of reading this writer’s perception on the Huffington Post. Let’s not pretend the Huffington Post is a harbinger of taste and cultural insight, but this article did do what it was supposed to: elicit a reaction.

Go and read it then come back to me.  ‘Why You Aren’t Married‘, by Tracy McMillan.

So, let’s just get on the same page again. Tracy has been married three times, so I guess this makes her an expert. but, oh wait, isn’t marriage supposed to be for life?

Do you, ____, take , ____, to be your (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Uh-huh. Then we’re clear on that. So Tracy, the marriage expert, is saying that the reason I am not married is because I am in permanent PMS mode and simply not able to be that soft, accommodating, oh sorry, ‘giving‘, partner that every boy/man is looking for? I mean, I think this is the gist of what she is saying? Am I wrong?

Let’s just narrow it right down even further to so I can remember, when I am out, sitting across from a man who just needs me to be more giving, why he won’t marry me, as in ever. Because I am a bitchy, slutty, lying, shallow woman without a sense of self.

Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. Let it sink in. It’s my fault for sure. It’s my fault that I see marriages all around me that are complete shams. It’s my fault that over half the men that come on to me are, in fact, already in a relationship It’s my fault that when I completely give, and give, and give, I find out inevitably that all that giving was for not because silly me, it was my vagina, not my character, he was interested in. It’s my fault that I won’t have a threesome to keep my boyfriend happy. It’s also my fault I can’t play dumb enough so my dates can feel better about themselves. I guess, as Tracey astutely points out, I just wasn’t ‘nice’ enough to them or they would have married me.

Oops, I am ruining my dating chances even as I write this because I am sounding angry, or…is it just too darned feminist for everyone?

Guess what? You will not hear anything more lonely than a single man in his 40’s on a sex chat line in the middle of the night. You wanna know how I know that? Because my friend used to work at a company and monitor these calls. That was his job. And it chilled me to hear those stories. The depth of loneliness was astounding to me. And yet, they can’t connect with real women wanting real connection. Why?

Because we’re angry, shallow, selfish, bitches with low self-esteem? Right? Right.

That is the articulate poultice for this situation for sure. Why, I would ask, is there such a disparate relationship between the amazing women I know (including myself, yep, I have healthy self-esteem, crazy eh?) who are not married and lonely, sad, men on chat lines? If men were choosing women on their character, as Tracy posits so eloquently, then why do all the men trying to date me and all my amazing women friends, act so angry, shallow, and slutty? Is it because they’re looking for amazing character? Oh, man, I missed that in their letters to me. Here’s one I recently received from a guy on one of those paid dating sites, you know the kind, where more intellectual, non-slutty, professionals find marriage material? I  hate to even quote from it but after reading Tracy’s post, I’m just so angry and apparently shallow enough now to do it so enjoy this man’s cry for character, connection, marriage:

“I have to say….. there is nothing I find more exciting and sexy than an assertive girl, especially if she loves playing dress-up and using a strap-on Given what you are looking for I think you will be quite interested in what I propose. I’m looking for someone who is confident, assertive and can be dominant without being bitchy or bossy, someone who is very sexually persuasive and knows how to get what she wants :).”

There are no spelling errors so that’s a start right?

The thing is, despite being hit up in this fashion all the time, I completely still believe in true love, big love, kissing in the rain kind of love (thanks Ryan Gosling). I adore and want love. Marriage though, as a goal, should be reviewed by all women in my opinion at this point in time. Because Tracy’s view of the sad, 40-year-old professional doesn’t really compute for me. Most of my happening, sexy, 40-plus friends are making more money than the men I know, own their own houses, and live a pretty great life. I don’t hear any complaining about a need to get hitched. We need to set an example for those younger women who are reviewing marriage, committment, career, and children. Don’t we? 

What I do hear from women my age is that they can’t find men who are interested in love. Not marriage. True love. Not bound by vows, or rings, or mortgages, or even by location. Because true love is rare, a lovely gentleman recently told me, like a diamond, a star, that is in fact so rare to find that when it is lost, there is only darkness.


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Filed under Dating, Relationships

Small boxes

(An excerpt from a book of fiction I am working on this am….several chapters ahead now…:))

She took the escalator. Looking down at her red toenails, she wondered at the unusual feeling in her chest. What was it? It lay between her sternum and her throat, caught there like a pinned butterfly. What had she eaten today? Lately, she’d been lazy about food, forgetting entirely for hours on end to eat anything. Maybe she was having some sort of low-blood sugar moment. When was the last time she ate? She saw herself by her fridge, eating out of a yogourt container in her underwear. Ok, so that was it. She was just hungry. But it wasn’t her stomach that ached. This feeling was caught there, suspended in her chest like a worry but one that she longed to take out of its box, and turn over in her hands, and touch gently, roll between her fingers, and pull up to her lips and….kiss.

She saw his face then. She smelled his cologne. She heard his whisper. She remembered his hand, a fistful of her hair.

She stumbled off the escalator into a mall of shoppers and stood in front of a mannequin army in a white display window and realized, to her horror, that she must be in love.

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Insomnia

(A little excerpt from a fiction piece I’m working on…:)

She looked over at him in the dark. He slept soundly, his head rolled sideways, sunk into the feather pillow, the tops of his eyebrows poking up and throwing tiny shadows across his eyes. The wooden slatted blinds allowed enough light in to keep her up. So did her own mind. She reached over, fingers crawling around on the night table searching for the stem of her wine glass. Warm, flat champagne. Even expensive champagne eventually tastes like shit at 4 am. Checking again to makes sure he was asleep, she slowly eased her body out from under the comforter. She shivered before her feet hit the cold wood floor and crouching Grinch-like she tip-toed out of the bedroom.

Her skin protested in goosebumps as she made her way in the dark down the long hall to the bathroom. She knew she’d find a robe there, because it was like a goddamn hotel wasn’t it? Bowling alley hallways, austere gray furniture, bad art, crisp white textiles and a sort of forced hospitality that made her feel like she should be able to call a front desk. But all she had was her iPhone, sitting in the dark, on the toilet, the soothing heat in her palm as she clicked open Facebook. She smiled at her brother’s video of Sammy Hagar, who in hell even remembers that guy? Somehow it comforted her, in this place where she could never feel she fit her own skin, even as his hands were constantly touching it, from her toes, to her knees, her neck…Fahget about it she told herself in a Tony Soprano voice and stood up to walk towards the kitchen. She noticed a little ‘1’ on her Twitter and clicked to view her mentions. She absently thought how vain she was but then, if that was true, so was the rest of the world now.

The hollow fridge was bachelor bare.She cut a hunk of dried Brie and poured a cold glass of Pinot Grigio. Sitting down on the kitchen stool too high for any normal limbed person, she read through his DM’s. Her tongue savoured the cold wine and she pulled the soft velour around her shoulders. Could he not afford heat? God it was cold. She suddenly heard the floor creak and wanted to sprint, where? What was her problem? Her nerves were like guitar strings strung and twisted, all jangly and frayed and splintered, but it didn’t show on her face as she smiled and kissed him, the smell of sleep and cologne on his neck as he held her and cupped her breast.

“What are you doing out here babe?” he asked.

“Couldn’t sleep” she said flatly and got up, resigned, padding back to the bedroom. She was too tired for anything. Too tired to talk, think, love. Least of all love.

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Why I won’t be disappointed in New York

Some people go to Church....others read Vogue.

I’m going to New York and all anyone can say is: You might be disappointed. Maybe because when I talk about my trip I look like a one of the short folks in Wizard of Oz when Glinda arrives, fairy dust coating my eyes, with visions of lunching with Carrie and shopping with  Hepburn at Tiffany’s. I know what they’re thinking given my childlike demeanor but no amount of sober reality will deter my experience from being amazing. Here’s why:

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. When I was around 6 or maybe 7, my dad had a heart attack while he sat across from me at the kitchen table. Luckily, my Uncle Murray was there and took him to the hospital along with my mom. For some unknown reason, my house was not in fact full of a 100 people and I snuck into the den perhaps in part to escape the afternoon’s tragic turn of events and turned the television on. I entered a world called Breakfast at Tiffany’s and in no small way I very likely have never come back from that fabulous place discovered on that eerily quiet afternoon.
  2. Vogue. I bought my first Vogue at around this same time, and have devoured approximately 45,000 fashion shoots in New York and know full well that Paris may be where the couture is, but the Queen of Fashion, Anna Wintour, lives in New York as well as her creative genius, Tonne Goodman. Both are up in those Vogue offices dreaming of the next issue and I’ll be thrilled to be in their storied world however briefly.
  3. Art. Lots of art. Street art. Ancient art. Fashion art. Dance arts. Theatre arts. Architecture. Some of the greatest art in the world. Humbled and joyous will be a mix of what I’ll feel I’m sure.
  4. Central Park. How can you go through life never having kissed in Central Park?
  5. The Plaza. C’mon, do I need to explain this one? I grew up in a crib that was then made to resemble a bed, with ice on the inside of my bedroom windows, and linoleum floors so ugly my toes curled up in disgust.

I won’t be disappointed.

I will love, love, love New York and fingers crossed I even have the wherewithal to leave the promised land after I arrive.

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