Sojourn in Europe


Intersections between mid-late-life  adults with youth; anyone under the age of forty is an adventure in livingness.   I remember strangers that  counseled; passed on a prized preface to life.

It was my first solo trip to Europe.  Emboldened with the freedoms in every cupboard of life: abandoned career, home, and possessions I lived out of a suitcase for about a year. Three of those months were in Ireland, France, and Italy.

I was dining in Venice, alone, down to coupon crushing finances and no interest in going back to the USA.  The rise to relocate plunged a new view ; find a job in a glass foundry or a museum, and rent a little room in Venice.  The Venetians of my age,  artistic, independent, and humanely trusting enchanted a woman who’d been sharking San Diego  in commercial real estate.  I got eaten alive.  Venice was the shore that I wanted to curl around and become fluent in Italian, learn to cook,  and wrap a scarf.

I was standing next to a bar-bistro melting in the lustrous  conversational elan’  when a couple in their sixties approached me.    The  corner of the bar waxed us in and for the next hour, that  man changed the direction of my life.

” Yea, I knew you were American.  Where you live?

” San Diego.”

” Oh! I’d move there if I could. ” I cannot recall where they lived other than the Midwest.

“What kind of work do you do in  San Diego?” He shouted.

“I was in commercial real estate–leasing and marketing.”

” Good for you! That’s a great career.”

” It was.  I want to live here… in Venice

He set his wine on the counter, I remember that, and pulled at his trousers or tie, and then he said,  “What would you do here?”

” I don’t know yet?”

” You can’t beat what you left.  Are you crazy?”

Before I answered he continued a breathless sermon peddling the virtues of my life;  not jumping into a fantasy, and to forget about moving to Venice.  My references  to challenge, adventure and change met more opposition than I’d expected. He deplored my naiveté.   “You shouldn’t go through with it.  San Diego  has the best climate. It’s coming up in the world, not just a little getaway resort. If I were your father I’d bring you back myself.  ”

They departed when his wife begged him to calm down and I returned to the evening’s allure.  There was a scar left, an abrasion of my plan.  Over the next few days, I met a group of Venetians, younger than me.  After revealing my plan to live in Venice, they drew me into their group.  I haven’t any diary of Venice, so the names and dialogue are absent. The memory is vague, a collage of framed vignettes.  We went to a friend’s apartment, who had a spare room to rent.   This friend, a young man with speedy senses whipped me around the apartment.  He spoke English, with saucy speed, and he had more friends. By the end of the evening,  I was tumbling in a wave of stimulation.  It was too much too soon.  The next week I was in Milan unknowingly colliding with Fashion Week.

After three months, my wardrobe was wasted from hem to neckline.  My shoes:  a pair of lace up boots,  lace-up sandals, and flats.  I landed in Milan at the Train station, and then where did I go? OH I remember. It was my last night with Julius;  my traveling European Chef companion.  We stayed at Relais & Châteaux, selections for three weeks.  We dined and slept in surroundings that dubbed European film sets.  I was dazzled and too overfed.

The last night with Julius was in a very chef gathering restaurant, busy waiters, lots of background noise;   the place to say goodbye and not cry. After dinner, we strolled around the Piazza and window shopped.

” Look at these shoes. I’ve never seen shoes like this-not even in Beverly Hills. ” Julius chuckled at my unworldly impressionable outbursts.  He enjoyed educating me on all things European.

” In Italy shoes are the most important part of the wardrobe.”

” You mean seriously. ” I asked.

” Oh Yes. They will  judge you by your shoes. Not every one of course, but the important types will.”

The next morning I rose to the uncertainty of traveling without  Julius.  That’s when I got on a train  headed for Annecy, France. I have no memory why Annecy, other than the couple I met at Lake Maggoire who might have suggested I visit the Southeastern part of France before going to Paris.

 

 

 

 

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Santa Fe today

Santa Fe today, Friday the 13th. Listening to soundtrack of Man & a Woman, my lyrics, my movie. The end is what I imagine mine. The day was blowing cottonwood  and white wisteria  in a blow glow of dance.  There is a certainty about my movements, different than yesterday. I declare this day of summer, sandals,pedicure, trying on my bathing suit, making a palette change, and putting on the ritz. The gloss and bronze, and maybe even going outdoors.  Shopping and going to the Lowriders Day in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO IS BUGSY?


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LUCILLE CASEY SMILEY

MGM MotherAll my life people have asked me the same questions:” What’s it like knowing your father is a gangster? How old were you when you found out? Aren’t you afraid of his friends? You know they kill people.”
I live in a temporary tide-pool, a lily
floating against the current, weighted
down by a suit of armor that shields me
from the beauty, love and freedoms stirring in my bud.

What seemed insignificant at the time was the diving board into my Dad’s history. I was watching a Bugsy Siegel documentary on my television in San Diego during 1993. It was the first one I’d seen. Three historians joined in on the violence Bugsy honored and esteemed. Half-way through the celebratory lynching of Bugsy and his pals, a reporter made the statement that ‘It’s obvious Allen Smiley was there to set Bugsy up for the hit.’ Andy Edmonds stated that Dad conveniently disappeared into the kitchen during the time of the shooting. It wasn’t until a photograph of my dad appeared on the screen; a man with thick graying hair that I noticed an expression I’d never seen, horrifying misery. I moved closer to the television to see his face up close. A kaleidoscope of emotions rose to the surface: anger, shame, curiosity, and disbelief. I was forty years old.
smiley aThe first time I’d seen those photographs of Ben Siegel slumped on that sofa; an eye bleeding down his face was a day back in 1966 at the age of thirteen. My best friend Dena lived in Brentwood with her divorced mother and siblings. We hooked in the unfamiliar and confusing imbalance of a broken home life. Dena was suffering depression after her parents divorced and I was dangling from my father’s fingertips hopelessly conflicted after my mother died. Dena wouldn’t let a day go by without calling me. ‘Are you all right?’ She didn’t like my father and her reasons were mature beyond her years, ‘Your father scares me.’ After school one afternoon we stopped in the Brentwood Pharmacy. Dena was looking at the book rack and I was following along.
“Lily, my mother told me your father is in a book, The
Green Felt Jungle. It’s about gangsters. Wanna see if they have it?” I agreed to look because Dena was interested, but it meant nothing to me. She twirled the book rack around as I stood behind her watching.
“That’s the book! Let me look first and see what it says,” she whispered. I could feel her arm tense up as I grasped it.
“Oh my God! There he is,” she said. We hunched over the book and read the description of my father, “Allen Smiley, one of Ben Siegel’s closest pals in those days, was seated at the other end of the sofa when Siegel was murdered.” Dena covered her mouth with one hand and kept reading silently.
“What does that mean? Who is Siegel?” I asked.
“Shush–not so loud. I’m afraid to tell you this. It’s awful.”
“What’s awful? Tell me.”
“Bugsy Siegel was a gangster in the Mafia. He killed people. Your father was his associate.”
“I don’t think I should see this.” I turned around abruptly to leave the drugstore. Dena followed me out.”
“Lily you can’t tell your father you saw this book. Please don’t tell him I told you.”
“Why not?”
“My mother told me not to tell you. Swear to me you won’t tell your father!”
“I won’t. Don’t you tell anyone either.”
A few days later after Dad left for the evening I opened the door to his guarded bedroom. I walked around the bed to a get a closer look at the photographs on the wall. It was the first time I could read the inscription.

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LIGHTS ON SANTA FE


 

A NATIVE AMERICAN  LIGHT SHOW.

YOU CAN BECOME WHO YOU DREAMED OF, DO WHAT YOU DREAMED OF IN SANTA FE , because Santa  Feans do not care.

I heard this slogan a lot when I first moved here seven years ago.  My understanding was vague, unrealized, and I didn’t think much about it until  this winter.   I began to  approach strangers,  walk across the street to the spa in a robe,  or  leave my pajama top under my sweater because I like the texture of it.
I’ve  given  up the diving board of scrutiny and plunge into the dreamy, stony,  outdated, simplistic extravagance, and unrealistic vibe of Santa Fe.

I keep dreaming, and preparing,  with a face blotched red by cold, that THE LIGHTS, SHADOWS,  MOON AND CHARACTERS ARE MY BROADWAY FOR NOW.   NOT FOREVER. EVERYTHING CAN BE TEMPORARY IF WE TAKE ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS.

ANAIS NIN ON PARIS


anais-ninwww.famousauthors.org

THE DIARY OF ANAIS NIN VOLUME SIX 1955-1966

“All of Paris is caressable, La ville caresse, la ville caressante, with its outer life all grace and wit, at heart a mystic lover, a philosopher, a man of taste.  In its ancient decor, it is always youthful because its source of life is inner, and always renewed. The past is so vivid that it fills the streets. It is full. the magic of its unity and harmony of colors and textures and styles. When there were contrasts, they were contrasts between medieval somberness and modern gaiety.  “

PARIS WILL NOT PERISH


I watched coverage today in Paris from an online British station. It is important to me. More important than writing or dressing or going out. The journalists were sympathetic, the interviews soulful, the images–silencing. I don’t believe prayers are enough. President Hollande declared war.

Last night I watched a French film, Lola, before I heard the news. This was a film of Paris as golden and grainy as autumn. I thought I must go to Paris. Today I still must go to Paris.  BN-LG537_1114FR_J_20151114151709