She doesn’t ask for the direction. Soon I see her pulling up on the Linfield Place in her yellow Volkswagen, named Rachel Rabbit.  She had once lived here before moving up north to Sacramento.  She plans to spend a couple of days walking down the memory lane, perhaps meet up with some people she knew and then continue on to Los Angeles to see her sister. As soon as she walks in, we hug, ever so self  consciously, but there is a feeling of a certain intimacy, which becomes apparent after Mike and Guusje leave. We stand in the middle of the room with our arms wrapped around and holding each other as if we were long lost lovers, and then abruptly but gently step back.

I invite her out for dinner and we drive down to Dobb’s in the city center from Goleta, where I live off the UCSB campus. The dinner is animated and we talk a lot about relationships. Hers with her husband Bob has just ended and they have filed for no-contest divorce. I am trying to build a long distance relationship with Patricia in Mexico City, but neither of us is quite sure. We are sort of oscillating. Carolyn has also been sort of dating someone. But as we talk, the magnetic pull between us two is obvious. After dinner we take a walk on the beach, feeling mellow, listening to the gentle waves of the Pacific splashing the shore. The vast expanse of the beach is deserted that night. I don’t remember for sure if it were a full moon night, but let’s assume that it was, just to give an extra romantic edge to the evening. We feel the ocean breeze lightly feather our exposed skins. The stars seem to be aligned just right on this clear cloudless night. We are walking hand-in-hand and feel the tender but intense energy transpiring through our entwined fingers.

The way I normally tell the rest of the story is: I bring her back home that night, thread my three hour long reel-to-reel tape containing Keith Jarrett’s soothing Cologne concert. And keep her.

●●●

I first met Carolyn and her husband Bob in the bar of a canal side little B & B in Amsterdam, where I had stopped by to look for a room. They were fully booked. But I stayed to have a beer in their bar before venturing out in the early January cold. Sitting diagonally opposite from me was a young couple from Duluth, Minnesota.

I had not planned to be in Amsterdam on this trip.  Certainly not to spend the whole week there. A little over a week earlier I had run away from Chicago in hopes to mend my broken heart. I had picked Denmark literally by putting my finger on the map. The place where no one I knew lived and the place where I could be face-to-face with my lonely self, the place where I could nurse  my wounds and disappear in its anonymity. Copenhagen seemed to do just that for me. Regaining some of my spirit back, I flew on to Stockholm – thinking I would celebrate  my New Year’s Eve up there. But on that morning, it got to be too lonesome. At the last minute, I called my friend Franz-Hermann Gomfers in Wachtendonk, a little town in the lower Rhine, that bordered with Venlo in Holland. As usual, he was hosting the Sylvester party and I found myself amongst the jubilant throng of the New Year’s Eve revelers.

Four years earlier, also at Franz Hermann’s Sylvester party, I had met the flaming red head, Felicita. Fe, as everyone called her,  grew up in a house in the alley diagonally opposite from Fran Hermann’s house. Shy as she was, we had clicked and spent most of the night sitting on a corner sofa, talking. Getting up once in a while to slow dance and then sit down again.  There is a photo of me sitting next to her, holding her wrist in my hand and twirling her bracelet, gazing at it as if in admiration. As good a pretense as any to hold her hand. Three weeks later I had left Europe to come to the United States.

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