She slept late—until she heard a knock on the door and at her window saw Terry below. She went down to answer it in her nightgown, just as she was, one strap hanging down, one breast exposed. Then in the narrow lower bunk of her bed, she surrendered to him again, this time without regret.

     There was another excursion planned for the afternoon, to the lighthouse. It seemed to her that the round of picnics and parties never ended, but Terry appeared eager to go. She would rather have spent a quiet day with him, just the two of them, but, not wanting to hold him back, she said that she’d like to spend the afternoon pottering around the house. What she didn’t tell him was that she wasn’t sure it was safe for her to swim while she still had her diaphragm in. They agreed to meet at the Café Maritime at 5:00 to begin cooking—the guests were invited for 7:00. When she was dressed, she set to work in the kitchen, scrubbing Jean-Michel’s old navy-blue refrigerator. She found the housework welcome, lulling. Still, as the day wore on she began to miss Terry and wished she’d gone along after all.

     She sat in a corded chair on the balcony of Jean-Michel’s apartment, sketching the rooftops and the harbor beyond and thinking about all that had happened. Terry tried so hard to please, seemed always to be putting on a show, a lonely effort that touched her. What would he be like, she wondered, if and when he realized he didn’t have to try so hard to be loved? It was strange, she thought then, that they’d never talked about themselves, that whatever they had been before they’d left behind them, as though it was irrelevant in Cadaques. She thought she sensed a sadness about him—had he broken up with someone recently as she had? The day after next he would be leaving. What an adventure, how daring, she thought suddenly, to go with him!



     The next day she drove to the neighboring town of Figueras with Jean-Michel as planned, but in the evening she went over to Alana’s. There was supposed to be a big dinner, and she knew Terry would be there. She took the lane past the twins’ house—her favorite in town—walking with her head back, studying the narrow strip of sky above her, fringed with the red scallops of roof tiles. When she climbed the damp, musty-smelling stairs, she heard raucous laughter. The guests were already seated around the table—there were new faces—and she was introduced to two young Dutchmen from the little country club. In the corner sat Eben, his head bowed, his hair falling over most of his face. And, she noticed with a start, it was shiny as though newly washed and smooth as though combed. She felt a curious pang—had he done this for her?

     “Eben,” she called out over the hubbub, “When did you get back?”

     “A few days ago.”

     It came out in the conversation that he’d be leaving again in the morning. Impulsively, she said, “I want to sketch tomorrow—maybe I could go with you?”

     He gave a slight, acquiescent nod, his lips pursed tensely together. They didn’t speak again.

     Terry arrived next with his guitar. He met her eyes, almost shyly at first, then dragged a chair up to the table, displacing the Dutchman who sat alongside of her. After dinner, they sang, and he unabashedly directed all the love lyrics to her.

     The following morning, she went over to the twins’. When she called out, no one answered. She climbed to the second story, which was the kitchen, and on the table found a note, addressed to no one: “Decided to set out early—Eben.”

     So instead she searched for Terry along the main street, stopping at each of the outdoor cafe-bars along the oceanfront and surveying the clientele. She finally found him on the beach, singing to a handful of children. They spent the day together except for his windsurfing lesson. At his apartment that evening, while he showered, she ground the spices he had bought in a wooden bowl with the back of a spoon—his idea, and a little premature since he wasn’t going to cook until the following night, but she wanted to oblige him. He came out of the bathroom in a striped caftan that stuck out at his groin, and when he embraced her, she felt his erect penis stab her belly.

     Not then, but later that evening they made love. She felt ardent until the moment of penetration; then she fell back bewildered and emotionally disengaged, simply surrendering. He’d left his bedroom door ajar, and as she lay on her side, propped up on one elbow afterwards, the blanket pulled off her, his roommate pushed the door open. She turned her face abruptly away, and he closed the door with an embarrassed exclamation. With evident glee, Terry admitted then that he’d left the door ajar on purpose, wanting his roommate to know he’d scored—and unabashedly recounted how he’d abstained from sex for two whole weeks, having decided that, instead of sleeping around on his vacation, he would find one woman to woo.

     All in a moment Seely felt stung and angry—was she just another notch in his belt then? She felt humiliated too, imagining it would be all over the town the next day; she didn’t want to be seen as promiscuous, but even more than that she didn’t want Eben to know. Hoping to avoid seeing the roommate again, she left before dawn.



     If the second volume of my memoir, Callie’s Ragbag, ends with a true story that I patched a fictitious ending onto, the third volume begins with the factual ending to that story. In the previous volume, my alter-ego, Seely, after spending the night with Eben in a stone shelter, is heading back to Cadaques when she suddenly decides to turn around and leave the satchel with her manuscript behind on Eben’s hearth. But I didn’t turn back. And the following is what really happened:

     Among the newcomers on the beach days later was a boyish Englishman, Terry, who was vacationing in Cadaques with friends—a couple and their little daughter. 

      Younger than she, Terry was almost too handsome, Seely thought as she studied him—as he talked about himself and flirted with her with a combination of bravado and gallantry. He had curly light brown hair, a pretty, slightly flat nose, and sensually swelling lips, his white teeth so even along the bottom edge they looked like they had been filed down. The only flaw in his beauty was one of proportion, she decided: his forehead wasn’t high enough to balance the length of the rest of his face. He also had, she couldn’t help noticing, powerfully muscular legs covered with downy blond hair.

     He announced that he was a stage actor and had studied at the British Royal Academy, then entertained her and the others in the British/American “gang” with a variety of accents, including an American accent that sounded as authentic as her own. Evenings, he recounted, he and his traveling companions had been making the round of little bars, playing guitars and singing, and were invited to entertain painter Salvador Dali at his nearby villa—with its phallus-shaped pool, surrounded by huge stuffed animals. Later he invited Seely to dinner, but she told him she’d already promised to cook for Jean-Michel and a visiting friend of his.

     The next morning when she came across him at the weekly market, where he was buying spices, he talked her into helping him make a Tandoori chicken dinner for the gang. That afternoon they hiked with the others to the Flat Rocks, stopping on the way to buy him plastic sandals to protect his feet from sea urchins on the ocean floor. Just below the lighthouse, everyone stripped and spread themselves out on the great warm slabs of rock, everyone but Seely. She removed her top, knowing that her small white breasts were nicely shaped, but modestly left on her bathing suit bottom. Terry was assiduous and antic in his attentions—half delighting and half embarrassing her. He lathered her with suntan lotion, carried her down to a jumping off point and leapt into the water with her, fitted her with his mask and snorkel while they both treaded water, and, holding his breath, dragged her down into the green depths. Later the two of them climbed the cliff and stopped in a little roadside café and had sardines and bread. When he left her off at her house in the late afternoon, she thought she’d never felt so physically wonderful in her life; her body, exercised to what should have been exhaustion, felt so lithe and light, she practically floated up the tortuously cobbled street.

     In the mirror she applied lipstick for the first time all summer, her cheeks a warmer color now and her freckles darker than before.

     That evening they had dinner at a restaurant. His friends’ little girl came and sat on his lap and, while he ate, he showed her coin tricks and treated her so tenderly that Seely began to long to change places with her. Afterwards they walked along the shore, admiring the reflections of light in the water. When they got to the point, she led him up the stairs to her favorite lookout. Sitting on the landing, he drew her long hair aside and kissed her neck. She kissed him back, feeling fierce and reckless, but when he asked her to go home with him, she refused.



When I remember my dream about the iridescent birds, I think: I’m the red bird (a redhead), Eben is the green, representing the natural world—grass, leaves, water (with algae like the pool I bathed in)—opposite colors on the color wheel, and so, complementary. And maybe I’m red also because I’m hotheaded and passionate, while Eben was cool and serene. Besides representing sexuality, the phallic metal cones symbolize creativity; they were the same copper cones I saw on an implement for melting wax and drawing designs on eggshells when my Camp Fire Girls troop went on a field trip to a shop in downtown Minneapolis to watch a woman making Ukrainian Easter eggs. Later, in California, I ordered the tool from her, along with some beeswax.

     Just now I thought, “Birds of a feather”—yes, Eben and I were opposites, but also alike. (I continually marvel at how succinctly dreams express complex ideas.) I’m the writer, brimful of words, Eben the mute who hardly ever speaks, yet we’re both loners, solitary in our own way—our lives running parallel on opposite sides of the world, he tending grapevines on a hillside, me tending words at my writing desk.

     Someone or other once said to me that the qualities we find the most compelling in other people are untapped potentials within ourselves. I think there’s an ascetic in me not that different from Eben, one who, living in another time or with fewer creative outlets, might have chosen a contemplative life.

     I’ve never met, before or since, anyone who was so embedded in the natural world as he was, something I yearned for too…to be that attuned to and that subsumed by nature, “to acquiesce to and commune with” what William James called “the total soul of things.”

      I suspect that part of the grief I felt at leaving him behind that day had to do with the necessity of repudiating this part of myself to become an artist. I met Eben at a crossroads in my life, and perhaps he helped illuminate for me what I was giving up. There was always a part of me that longed to renounce the world, to devote myself wholly to a spiritual life and a journey towards some degree of enlightenment.

     And the latter part of the dream? The shadowy figure in the glade was statuesque, larger than life and had the profile—as well as I could see it—of an Indian woman…American Indian, I mean, though it occurs to me that my unconscious might have been punning again—Aaron and Eben grew up in India.

     The dream vividly demonstrates to me the way I perceived power as existing outside myself, the province of other people. I wasn’t able to feel what I heard someone say in a TV interview recently –“I know when I’m in my heart, I’m unstoppable.”

     Ah! And I just made another connection—between the courting birds and the Ukrainian eggs—procreation and regeneration. So the dream is about birth, perhaps my own as the artist I was to become. And maybe that’s why I felt such a moment of power at the end of the dream, experiencing the potential of an artist to tap into the creative force that underlies the universe—because a personal renaissance lay just around the corner for me in California, though I didn’t know it—consciously—yet.



     “Your story doesn’t work,” Linda told me apologetically, evidently regretting having to be the bearer of bad news—she’s a writer in my ARTS group that I admire and whose judgment I trust. “Seely goes through a sea change after meeting Eben, but we don’t see enough happen between them to make this convincing.”

     Deflated and not knowing how to fix the problem, I relegated the story to a box in the basement.

     But even as a failed story, I would realize when I reread it sometime later, it expresses a number of things that are true about me—more, perhaps, than a successful one would have:

     Seely comes to feel, though apparently I failed to make this clear, that her journals had always been written for Eben, even if she didn’t know it until the moment of leaving them behind. Like her, for most of my life, my creativity has been directed, not at a mass audience, but a private, personal one, whether I was writing a song as a birthday gift for Kita or drawing cartoons on a coffee cup with china paints for Jack, or writing my Hamlet essay to impress my teacher Mrs. Griffith, or fashioning stories to teach Arielle and Michael to read. It has been in context of my relationships that I’ve found the inspiration and motivation to invent—a larger audience was simply too impersonal to excite my imagination. So to me, anyway, it didn’t seem surprising that in the end Seely would leave her manuscript for Eben to read, if he should want to, rather than try to have it published.

     The story also expresses the fact that it was in Cadaques that I came to recognize the limitations of words. I’d always tried to create relationships through language, imagining that if the things I said were interesting enough, I could win people over—the model for this way of looking at things being my relationship with my father, who couldn’t be bothered with anyone he didn’t find intellectually stimulating. It wasn’t until I saw Alana and Aaron’s relationship that I understood that there was another, deeper level of communication that people could relate on, never having experienced it with either of my parents, who didn’t seem capable of emotional intimacy. (Later I rediscovered this in my movement group, dancing with Rosemary and Jobie—that there were things we were able to express to each other though movement that transcended the verbal.) For this reason Seely’s abandoning words to become a painter made perfect sense to me back then.

     And lastly (unless I have an afterthought), while I used to sing for the love of it and to draw out of inclination, I sometimes think I only came to write out of desperation. I’m not at all convinced that if I’d had a twin—separated from me at birth, who’d had a less troubled life than mine—she would have authored anything. Words have simply been my last resort.