Back in California before the semester started at Tiburon College, I missed being out in the wild hills around Cadaques so much that I started driving mornings to the wilderness parkland that extends for thirty-two miles along the East Bay hills from Richmond to Castro Valley—to hike alone. (I’d stopped trespassing around the reservoirs.) But one day, a stranger appeared in the distance and seemed to be following me. After what I’d gone through hitchhiking, I was frightened enough by this latest experience that I met with the wife of an acquaintance who was a reservist in the police force—to discuss getting a gun to protect myself.

After the truckdriver’s attack in Spain, I was left with a sense of outrage that anyone could imagine they had a right to violate my personal space—to reach in and grab me and try to overpower me. (And yet, it occurs to me now, this is exactly what men are taught they have the right to do—to reach in and grab and try to overpower someone else—that is, to fight—if they are given a reason to or have their own reason to. So, of course, why would it be a stretch, I realized, for a man to do the same thing to a woman?) Nevertheless, understanding after my conversation with the reservist that target practice would have to become a part of my life, I abandoned the idea of carrying a gun. Instead, regretfully, I stopped hiking in the “wilderness” by myself as a way of communing with the natural world—for me, a profound loss.



And I had, after that giddy day at the Flat Rocks with Terry, really considered the possibility of following him back to England and trying to create a life there, just as I had considered going with Rick to Chicago. My high school friend Nikki had met a Canadian in Europe in her twenties, followed him back to Quebec, and married him. If only I could be brave enough, daring enough, I’d been telling  myself, maybe I could finally find my true life path. But now I’d made my decision. Nevertheless, I wrote Terry the following letter:


Dear Terry,

     Halloo! How’s England been treating you? My homecoming was poignant and happy, though some friends expressed indignation over my early return, saying since they were prepared to miss me all summer, the least I could have done was stay away. I’ve been in a lazy, meditative, mood, and since the college doesn’t open until September, I can kick back and enjoy myself. I’m playing the guitar again after a five-month intermission. I promised myself that I would look for a classical guitar teacher as soon as I got home, but judging from present performance, I’m destined to become a virtuoso procrastinator, at best. I’m also taking disco lessons again. My ex-dance-partner found a replacement for me in my absence, and now I’m wondering morosely where I’ll find another man so stoical about having his feet stepped on.

     After Cadaques, it ain’t easy to adjust to life in the “big city”—particularly when you live in a poor, run-down section, where everything that’s not nailed down is likely to be stolen. Last midnight I had to drag myself out of bed and get dressed because I remember I hadn’t padlocked my car hood shut after adding water to the radiator. Mornings when I wake up before dawn, I drive my car to Lake Temescal or one of the reservoirs, and, scrambling over fences with “No Trespassing” signs, I hike until the fog burns off. It’s a magical time of day to me—the yellow hills missing their tops, sheared off by mist, and the water’s edge looking like the world’s edge—a gray impenetrable-seeming void beyond.

     On one of these excursions I discovered a little hole-in-the-wall British bakery that advertises salt-and-vinegar potato chips and British bangers where I now stop for coffee and a muffin. I took refuge there one Saturday in the midst of a thunder and lightning storm—almost unheard of in the Bay Area.

     Terry, it seems strange to me now as it never did in Cadaques that I didn’t try to find out more about you. And since I still feel puzzled about our relationship, I wish I had. I wonder why you thanked me for “comfort” and why you left me waiting at the Café Maritime—would have, indefinitely, I guess—the afternoon of the yacht party. As for me (it’s easier to say at this distance), I was afraid of getting close to you, or anyone, too quickly, after a whirlwind romance that ended painfully for me a few months ago. Also, I felt there was some constraint on your part that I didn’t know how to account for. Perhaps you’ll enlighten me?

     I hope all is going well for you.  Say hello to Maynard, Annie, and Jess for me—actually, you might say “good-bye” to them first—I didn’t do a proper job of that in Cadaques.



Not surprisingly, I never heard back from him.



     She woke up after only a few hours, feeling refreshed and peaceful for the first moments before she remembered…and that put the ache back in her chest. Wanting to comfort herself, she lay back and smoothed her hair over the pillow, then held a mirror over her head—which pulled the skin taut around her cheeks, accentuating her cheekbones—and dabbed her mouth with pale pink lipstick, her lashes with mascara.

     Sometime later she thought she heard a knock. At the window she saw Terry below, holding a pot. It couldn’t have been more than 8:00 a.m. “Wait!” she called, and, still in her silky white nightgown, she ran down the steps. He knocked a second time.

     “I just wanted to return this…and the money I owe you,” he said. “I’ve written a note.”

     She took the pot in one hand and glanced at the scrap of paper, scanning the words out loud. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” it said, “but it would have ended the same, anyway—with me leaving on a jet this morning.”

     “I have to go,” he stammered. “I have someone waiting to take me to the airport.” He was embarrassed by her reading the note in front of him, she realized.

     “I’m sorry too.” She reached out and touched his shirt, staring at his button for a long moment—wondering what more she should say—before looking into his eyes. He stammered another apology and gave her a fumbled kiss on the cheek. “I have to go,” he repeated. “Maybe you want to give me your address…”

     The following morning she washed her sheets and hung them out on the balcony to dry, swept and tidied her room. She chatted with John Michel briefly, and before she left for the post office, she found a note on the stairs. It said, “I think you go—a kiss, Jean Michel.”

     She went to the post office to find out what time the bus for Figueras left, then carried her suitcase out to the road and waited with the other passengers. That night on a train to Madrid she stood in the crammed, cramped corridor; all the other loiterers were men. She opened the window and leaned out, the wind whipping her hair across her eyes and open mouth, and she felt free, freer than she had in a very long time—because she’d finally made her choice. She was going home to California, where she would make her life.



     Jean Michel was smoking in the living room when she arrived, and drinking brandy. “There’s a good idea,” she said and helped herself to a glassful, though she hated the stuff.

     “What’s wrong?” Jean Michel asked.

     “I got stood up,” she said, feeling foolishly like she was going to cry.

     “By the actor?” She nodded, feeling a tear get away from her.

     “So what are you so upset about?” he asked with amusement. “You hardly know him.”

     She left after that, walked down to Dr. John’s and found him making a curry supper. They sat in his front yard at his splintered table and drank wine until they were both quite drunk, then went down to the discotheque to listen to the band. She stood in the front row of a crush of onlookers in the tiny bar, swaying and clapping, amazed at how much better she felt. Liquor really does work, she marveled. When the place finally closed she went home, a couple of hours before dawn.

     She slept a few hours and woke up tired but without a hangover. All she wanted to do was find Terry and apologize to him. What if he’d felt hurt, rebuffed when she wouldn’t go with him to the Flat Rocks the second time? she’d realized. What if he thought he’d failed as a lover because she never had an orgasm? Putting herself in his place, she saw how her actions might have wounded or confused him.

     She spent the morning searching for him all over town, but strangely, not one of the gang was anywhere to be found. The yacht was still anchored off the point, but now it was quiet. In the afternoon she walked up into the hills south of town, where there was a villa. Thinking about all that had happened, wondering how much of it she’d brought on herself, she felt an anguish, so sudden and monumental, it came crashing down on her like an avalanche, crushing her chest with such oppressive weight, she could hardly draw breath. She staggered along the path, scarcely able to walk, she felt so hopelessly defective—that she always found a way to wreck every opportunity life offered her—and finally collapsed on the side of the road, then forced herself to get up and walk again. She heard herself sobbing and talking wildly out loud. It was as though the suffering of a lifetime had born down on her in a single moment.

     Hours later, back in town, she looked for Terry again; it was the evening of the dinner, but she still couldn’t find him.



     At five she hurried down to the café—he wasn’t there yet—so she ordered Fanta and sat and talked to Dr. John. After a while he began directing his comments to a couple of young women at the neighboring table who were speaking in German, and soon he’d invited them to their table. He was charming; they were charmed. Eventually she got up and left him to his new conquests, wondering what could have happened to Terry.

     She walked along the beach, then went back to the café. He still hadn’t come. Dr. John was gone, and she sat alone waiting for a long time. Finally she headed off down the street that bordered the ocean; if they were coming back from the lighthouse, she would meet them on the way. She was passing the second cove with its little shops displaying baskets of fruits and vegetables when she noticed a yacht anchored a ways off shore. It was close enough so she could hear some of the voices, and, straining her eyes, she even began to recognize some of the revelers. She saw Aaron first, then Victoria, then Terry. Not knowing what to do, she paced back and forth along the shore, started for home once, then came back and, standing on the point, began to holler. Someone on board recognized her and pushed off in a dinghy. When she came on board she found Terry singing drunkenly, Victoria behind him, draping her arms over him possessively.

     “What happened about the dinner?” Seely asked.

     “Oh, Alana thought we should have it tomorrow night instead,” he said, a little shame-faced. “Here, come on over and sing with me,” he added expansively, making room for her on the bench.

     She swallowed and shook her head. He shrugged, again hangdog. The bottle went around and the carousing continued, while she sat, not participating but trying to look unfazed. He would have let her walk all the way to the lighthouse—an hour and a half round trip—she realized, only to find he wasn’t there. And the fact that it was Alana’s preference and not his commitment to her that mattered to him made her even more sober. She remembered him telling her he “adored” Alana, and now began to suspect that if Alana hadn’t been with Aaron, she was the one he would have wooed. “Why do you always have to be so serious?” Susie chided her supercilliously. Which reminded her of Dr. John’s account of how Susie and Gwen’s boyfriend had gone home to have sex together, leaving Gwen behind at a bar—a story she’d taken with a grain of salt at the time.

     Half an hour later it was suddenly decided to go ashore. Everyone piled into two dinghies and a motorboat. Terry sat down next to her in a dinghy, but they’d barely set off when he announced he was going to swim…and, more tumbling than diving, he flopped into the water. He arrived on shore just after the boat and followed her up the slope, towards Jean-Michel’s.

     “Hey,” he reiterated, “I’m sorry about the dinner, but Alana thought we should have it tomorrow night.”

     “Alana?” she said angrily.

     “We could still go out to dinner tonight,” he suggested.

     “No,” she said.

     “Well, I’ll look for you tomorrow,”

     “Don’t bother,” she said evenly. And she walked away from him up the hill.



     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.