He is blond, cool, tall, a Greek god. When he plays the piano, I get so excited I'm afraid I'll wet the sofa. He caresses the keys, sings to himself as he plays -- and to me. His name is Marco Alberti. His mother's family were Venetian Jews who moved to Trieste in the period when Joyce lived there -- between the wars. They knew Joyce, Svevo, that literary lot. They came to Canada next, then to America. Like me, he is a rootless polyglot -- Jewish mother, Catholic father whose family may have been Jewish way back. He feels like the other half of my soul.
He had read my book and was moved by it.
"The crux of human problems is consciousness," he said. "Shall we go to escape these drunks?"
I vigorously nodded my head yes. We went to the White Horse and talked all night -- one of those talks that go on and on because you know it's too soon to go to bed but you can't part. At four in the morning, he took me home. The birds were making a racket in the garden behind the house, and Sally was sleeping in Mama and Papa's room. We ached for each other, but could not, would not, succumb so soon.
I fell asleep and dreamed that I was in a house that was being built and there were workmen all around. Marco and I found an alcove and dragged a battered old door across it for privacy. Dream details! Then we threw a sleeping bag on the floor and began to make love. His face was tender, and his cock was so long and hard it had no trouble reaching the inside of my imagination. I realized how many moons it's been since I was touched that way. And then I awoke, missing him.
I will see him again tomorrow -- and I am terrified and elated. Not hungry, sleepless, agitated -- all the symptoms of that sometimes fatal disease called love.
The last thing I want is to make some man the center of my life again. What's the point of it? It has to lead to trouble. And yet without that spark, everything is flat, stale, unprofitable.
Why is there no one I can talk to about all this? I look at the marriages of my intimates -- of Theda, say, Sylvia, even Mama -- and they all seem to have made such dull compromises. I want my life not to be dull, to continually expand into new territory. Is that compatible with marriage? With love? So much of my education seems to have come from the men in my life. I have used them to learn: from Val about how to bring writing to life, life to writing; from Ethan about being independent, a deer slayer and amazon; from Aaron about the heroism of survival, of witnessing. What am I meant to learn from Marco?
Copyright © 1997 by Erica Jong. Reprinted by permission of the author.
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