|Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso, 1937|
We haven’t seen each other for more than six months, after an intense affair which was packed with enough peaks and lows to give even the most foolhardy or courageous person a nervous breakdown. And now here we are in Paris, neither of us sure exactly what is going on between us. After four days of visiting monuments, getting drunk on the steps of Sacre Coeur, dropping acid at Jim Morrison’s grave, careening around Pigalle smashed on Pastis, having conversations and lots of hungover sex in the crack of two single beds pushed together to form a double one, we still don’t know.
The humidity is unbearable, close and claustrophobic. We’ve spent the day lost on the Metro, but now it’s twilight, and we’re having A Situation in our tiny, cramped hotel room. Music drifts up from the street below, and what began as a request for a goodbye kiss—he’s supposed to be going home tonight—has somehow escalated into a surreal disjointed discussion of our relationship. All the doubts and fears and misconceptions are offered up for examination, things which had- until this point remained unstated- are coming to light. I feel tears well up and try to hide them at first, but then don’t see the point in it. I’ve been keeping a lid on my feelings for most of the time we’ve known each other, thinking (correctly) that any emotional display would horrify him.
Of course, we’ve been drinking all afternoon.
I am suddenly Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” come to life, and it isn’t pretty. The brilliantly colored cubist planes that seemed interesting on canvas do not translate well on a human being. Both my eyes are on sideways, tears flying out like fragments of broken glass to match my fragmented psyche. My mouth is a distorted gash of red like a bleeding open wound…or maybe that should be a bleeding open womb. I feel helpless and damaged, palms sweaty, hands shaking. Hysterical.
Everything he’s saying is a lie, I’m certain of it. Whether it’s intentional or just something he’s trying to convince himself of, it doesn’t matter right now. He’s wound around me like a snake, physically and figuratively. I want to escape but can’t leave the heat of his skin, and the tears won’t stop no matter what.
He’s telling me he wants to end our sexual relationship, touching me the whole time, stroking my hair, his palms soft on my skin as he holds me, rubbing my back lightly. I hear what he’s saying, and yet I still am finding comfort in his arms, inhaling his familiar scent, feeling his bare skin. In a moment of lucidity I realize that I can’t figure out if I want to fuck him, or just be held and have him comfort me like a baby, even though he’s the one that’s making me feel this way to begin with. Undoubtedly, this is one of the more perverse moments I‘ve ever experienced. I find it hard to believe we’re having this conversation in bed with no clothes on. I find it hard to believe that this conversation is taking place at all. It’s difficult to tell who is more out of control, me or him.
“When I came here,” he says, “The whole way on the train, I wasn’t sure if we were going to have sex.”
“When I came here,” I answer, my voice taking on a nasty shrill edge, “The whole way on the plane, I didn’t know either…but I notice we both brought huge boxes of condoms!”
I cannot see how any of this is ever going to be resolved, especially considering the fact that we now reside on two different continents. It seems to me that with his words, he is denying everything that ever happened between us, but with his actions, he feels the same way that I do. Clearly, he thinks with his head , no matter how twisted his logic might be, and I think with my heart. The pain I am feeling is expansive, with no end in sight. We have reached a stalemate.
All I can do is cry. Can’t talk, can’t smoke. Can’t look in the mirror, I’m blinded by tears. I cry the contact lenses right out of my eyes. He’s drinking straight from the bottle and I won’t any more. It’s not doing the trick now, anyway. Raw emotion has nullified any effects it might have. I’m scaring myself now. I take a Xanax to calm down but all it does is cause my speech to slur slightly. I feel frighteningly sober and completely lost. I feel like I’m outside of myself, floating somewhere near the ceiling of the room, watching this sick scene unfold. The tears still won’t stop, it’s like a year’s worth of tears have been bottled up and the floodgates have broken. By now, it’s dark.
“Have I broken your heart?” he asks, not without concern.
“When, recently?” I practically scream, amazed that my sense of irony can still function at a moment like this.
The next morning I wake up in the wrong bed, unaware of when I fell asleep. My eyes are nearly swollen shut from crying. Hazy sunlight is streaming in through the cheap gauze curtains with the sounds of Paris coming to life just after daybreak. He is still sleeping, but leaving this afternoon. There are bottles, cans, and shredded tissues all over the floor.
The pillows are smeared with a massacre of lipstick and black with a ruin of tear-washed mascara: love notes to an assassin who didn’t quite finish his job.
Get a signed copy of the book this story is from, Escape From Houdini Mountain – or my latest book Showgirl Confidential: My Life Onstage, Backstage, And On The Road here: