I must state here, in this first sentence, that despite my love affair with words and with the languid sensuality of using them to describe the mundane and the sublime, the profane and the sacred, that I have never read a single word of Anais Nin – until this evening. And what I have read is simply the preface to her collection of erotica entitled the Delta of Venus (yes, as a woman I at least know what that is).
It strikes me as oddly similar to what all writers must ‘go through’ for the sake of their art – establishing boundaries to separate what we wish to write with what we must write for the sake of keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. I have always thought of Ms. Nin as fabulously successful – perception is reality in public relations parlance – but the preface touches on the woes of bill collectors, broken typewriters and doctors’ appointments and the urgency of writing for “a collector” of erotica at a $1 a page (my going rate for ‘commercial work’ is $2 a word plus expenses or a per diem). She assembles a Who’s Who of wordsmith excellence, protects anonymity and acts as, in Henry Miller’s and her own words “the madam of this snobbish literary house of prostitution” pooling their stories and creating “literary aphrodisiacs” because “All of us needed the money”; and I am shocked and offended. In my life there is no husband in equally dire financial straits, not children to protect and care for or even a pet or plant – for now there is only me. Some months, some years, far better than others but on the whole I have “all that I need” (thus, the title of my first book). My life is full, and amazing things that happen to no one else I know happen to me, my life is the extreme of abundance and deprivation (which never feels such given the plentitude I feel is my lot).
Right now I look at my wildest dreams to drink sunsets bathed in the same golden light of Plato’s landscapes, swim unadorned in emerald and azure waters in the predawn salt waters where Gaia fornicated to create all of the gods and goddesses before turning her back on mankind and wonder “how do I make such happen?”. But, like Ms. Nin, for me the idea of writing of passion on demand makes the essence of our humanity, the infinite expressions of carnal knowledge given and taken in tenderness, pleasure, hunger unlike Japanese netsuke and more like a blow up doll; in my world there is no room for the debasement of desire, only coming into each other in fullness of being to be more than we might be singularly.
There is the moment when, like the stillness of the air just before a storm the scent of ozone assails and the skies burst forth in a torrent, passion exists like a promise. It is with such stated that I offer that some lives are steeped in the immediacy of fulfillment and others have fleeting glimpses of what living on the edge of reason could offer – my own life is in the place between. Our thoughts are p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l beyond reckoning – will he touch me? Where and how? Should I ‘allow’ my thoughts to manifest my desire using the wisdom of Buddha?
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”
I am cognitive of doing that ‘at least once’. I have never told this story – perhaps at 52 and a few months shy of my birthday I can do so without embarrassment – before I begin actually reading Delta of Venus I want to offer ‘a moment’ a decade ago sitting on the tarmac of Boston Logan aboard an Air France flight bound for a long weekend in Paris. At the risk of being sensational, the plane was full save for two seats, the middle one next to my own window and one in the bulkhead eleven rows ahead of me with the final boarding call being made. We’ve all ‘been there’ grateful for the reprieve of space on an overnight transatlantic flight, I had taken my Tylenol PM, had changed into my pajama bottoms, washed my face and brushed my teeth and was prepared to forego the inflight meal for sleep when “he” stepped on board. Tall, chiseled, broad shouldered, seriously Gallic featured and a soft sigh escaped my lips. The thought, fleeting, was as he took the bulkhead seat, now why it is that no man that looks like that ever sits next to me? (Just like that scene in The Holiday when Kate Winslet is shackled not with the dreamy guy but sandwiched between two blue hairs talking the whole way to Los Angeles whilst she receives a text from the man she is escaping!) The power of our thoughts to alter the course of our lives plays out in this millisecond of ‘eye candy vs. space to spread out’. Just as the flight attendants are about to run through the safety card drill his hand goes up to the bell – the two men on either side of him are just as broad shouldered. Body language tells all and the next moment “he” is sitting next to me.
Over Champagne, and the dinner I didn’t want, Philippe let me practice my school-girl French. He laughed in appropriate places, thoroughly charmed and was a perfect gentleman – almost. I will not travel without my down pillow, in this instance adorned in a white with pink bow-knots pillow sham. This struck him as funny, but I offered to share, as the lights were dimmed he kissed me – an amazing kiss. You know those movie scenes where every bit of sexual tension plays out? How the couple involved is breathless and hungry? Our encounter was like that. His fingers found license unbuttoning my shirt just enough to place his hand on the lace of my bra, then in cupping and fondling my breast and all while we kissed, and yes, he brought me to a (hard fought to maintain silent) dramatic climax at 31,000 feet with my clothes still on surrounded by 400 people.
My point is thus, life is full of such (unimagined) possibilities, and a these experiences can go a long way in carrying us over the seasons of famine in our sexuality. While erotica has its place (I am sure) I have never actively sought it out before Ms. Nin’s book arrived this afternoon, I would much rather live it than read the product of someone else’s imagination.
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