How, in the opening chapter of The Garden of Eden, Catherine bikes north along the Canal du Rhône à Sète from Le Grau-du-Roi to Aigues-Mortes to get a boy haircut at a barbershop there and how we, like Catherine, wanted to be loved for our androgyny and our beautiful minds, but at the same time how we wished to be noticed (for the shape of our lips when pouting, our half-moon manicures and our flapper dresses) by certain men (and women) because of that distinct need to be special buried deep in our psyches like some archetypal mother/father/God wound.
Remember how I went deer hunting those couple of seasons with my ex-stepfather? The one who introduced me to The Nick Adams Stories? How, despite my killer temper, I turned out to be a lousy deer hunter like I was lousy at fishing. How I couldn't stomach baiting the hook, taking the fish off the hook (worse if the fish had swallowed the hook) or cleaning the fish (my brother did all of those things and more for me). Still, I wanted to be tough, tomboy that I was, carrying what I imagined to be past life memories as a Native American living off the land. Remember how I spine shot that doe? Remember my horror at seeing her, eyes wild with fear, frothing at the mouth and trying to pull herself up by her front legs? Remember how I ran towards her, getting closer and closer until, point blank (her beautiful eyes), I shot her again and then fell to my knees and sobbed as I watched the life go out of her and how you called me a coward for crying, the same way your father had called you a coward when you were Nick in The Nick Adams Stories.
From Aigues-Mortes, we drove (instead of riding bikes) the ten minutes or so to Le Grau-du-Roi. The Hôtel Grand Pommier, where you (as Catherine and David) stayed on your honeymoon, is no longer there, and the local church, Saint-Pierre, has been replaced by a modern one making me think of America and its often dull and anti-Garden of Eden architecture. I had no desire to fish though we saw plenty of fishing boats in the old port reminding me of how much you loved your 38-foot Pilar, the only woman who never stopped being fun, like Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises and Marjorie in The End of Something had stopped being fun. The sky that day was a brilliant blue. Do you remember those South of France skies? A blue you would have painted beautifully, I'm sure, had you set down your notebook and pencils and picked up a brush.
At least you were an honest man instead of pretending or actually believing you were, as it's said in today's lingo, a woke feminist man, who might later let it slip (during a relaxing day at the beach with friends, for example) that he has a fondness for young girls in short (short) skirts and tall leather boots, or French maid uniforms and high (high) heels, followed by, “And so what's wrong with my private stash of porn? I don't get it. It's not hurting anyone.” And how some of us women immediately understand because we once played those games but now we silently surrender another man to the matrix of men (all of us, really) still lurching toward adulthood.
Luckily writers aren't supposed to be saints, like our parents aren't supposed to be saints though we still like to try to saint them like I tried to saint my father (the original wounded king) and how I wanted so badly for him to be something more than a broken human and how, after his various crimes and eventual fall from grace, I practically (years later) killed myself trying to save him until I needed to let go (to save myself) and how he was whipped and battered on the rocks before finally landing in a safe place until his death (from pneumonia, not suicide) and how I finally came to understand that the only person we can save is ourselves and then how, in the forgiving of our wounded kings, we forgive ourselves and our same human brokenness.