Note to husband, family members and relatives: Best to skip this one!
This week I was exchanging messages with a friend about our lives in our '20s. I was in New York, which I found magical and wildly exhilarating. My friends and I were out four or five nights a week, tasting the city's wonders; meeting interesting and exciting people from all over the world.
I told my friend that looking back, I feel tenderness for the young woman I was then - lost and trying so hard (in all the wrong ways) to find someone to count on; someone to love and trust; rather than settle for intrigue and lust.
It was a heady time, as I discovered my own strengths and endless possibilities beckoned. Powerful men came courting; men enchanted by a young woman who was more than just a pretty face; a woman who understood the art of conversation and whose enthusiasm and curiousity to learn more about the world struck a responsive chord.
Sometimes this young woman made the wrong choices; so intoxicated was she by the fascinating men issuing invitations. Sometimes she'd be having dinner at a top Manhattan restaurant with a diplomat, or an Italian hotel magnate, a Brazilian banker or a Kuwaiti businessman and wonder how on earth she got there - when the price of the dinner would have paid a month's rent and after a night of party-hopping, she would be too tired to finish even a glass of the $350 bottle of wine.
Once she met a Yugoslavian hockey player for the New York Rangers, who said he was taking her to a "disco" that turned out to be a lively polka parlor in Queens. An IBM executive invited her to go dancing at a "hot new club" which - quelle surprise - was the private sex emporium Plato's Retreat. An Englishman she'd just met at a business dinner said, "I must warn you, I snore."
Another time a television cameraman followed her home from the subway and got down on his knees next to a Woody Allen movie set and begged her to go out with him. A young Italian man regaled her with made-up stories about his life in the Mafia (sheer fantasy). A man who resembled a young Kirk Douglas, cleft in the chin and all, took her out to dinner and a movie. And when she wouldn't have anything further to do with him, phoned her obsessively and started stalking her.
Once a future Nobel Prize winner cooked dinner for her and took care of her when she was sick, always providing a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. An international political activist chased by the media shook off his guards and paid her a secret midnight visit.
Once a former jewel thief turned photographer to whom she was introduced at a downtown art gallery told her she was the kind of woman you could take anywhere in the world - from a funky dive to a palace. Once she had too much to drink and danced on top of the table at the Copacabana. A Boston CEO offered to set her up in an apartment; she declined. A Belgian hotel owner asked her to help write a public relations campaign. When she showed up at his office, he chased her around the room. When she ran from his office, all disheveled, a man in the lobby said, "How's tricks?" mistaking her for a prostitute. She cried all the way home on the subway.
A Lebanese poet wrote poetry for her. The Kuwaiti businessman who resembled the young Omar Sharif asked her to marry him and built a villa of beautiful peach stone, with marble floors. But when she saw it and understood his need to control; his possessive attitude, she realised she'd be a bird in a golden cage and bowed out. When they'd met in New York, she had been a fanciful girl, longing to be swept off her feet by true love, her head filled with romantic notions expressed in these excerpts of a poem the late Linda Goodman often quoted:
"...Two shall be born the whole wide world apart
and speak in different languages
and each pay no heed to the other's being.
"...O'er oceans they shall cross,
escaping wreck; defying death.
"...And unconsciously shape each wandering act
Until one day out of darkness,
they must meet
and read life's meaning in each other's eyes."
Thinking of that naive young woman with stars in her eyes, with all her expectations and hopes and dreams spilling over into unsatisfactory relationships, I was reminded of the first and only haiku I've ever written. I was 13, attending a two-week summer "MAD" (Music, Art and Drama) camp in a nearby town. Most of the participants were older than I; they seemed more worldly and experienced and even talked about romances -whether real or imagined, I never knew - with the drama instructor. I felt uncomfortable; I didn't fit in at all. But my Haiku won first prize:
"The mirror reflects
a nameless shapeless image.
Who is this lost child?"
Read more Poetry Thursday offerings here.
Photo of 19th-century French burled wood perfume and powder containers, along with original ivory-handled powder puff, remnants of powder and perfume.