Monday, December 8, 2014

Episode 56 | Interlude 1.1

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Interlude One

Iceland, 2012

Laurent & Fabrizio

The island of my childhood.

That at least I knew wasn't a lie -- it was my very privilege to have spent my tender years in a paradisiac and exclusive corner of the planet that people dreamed of visiting, but where they could stay only for a while, and then dream again about it upon returning to their ugly, crowded cities around the world.

Thinking about that night's conversation with Carlo at the Nirvana Lounge in Vice City, maybe I was being again defensive with my father, when confronted with so many puzzling news about my past, that radically transformed it. I was afraid of being caught up in a new web of lies and intrigues.

He had said that Punaouilo was the first leg of their return trip to France -- and it had been a misunderstanding that, starting from the Indian Ocean, Punaouilo had brought them closer to South America than to Europe... But why then had we stayed there for eight years? Although, if they had asked me, I would have chosen to stay on the island until my teenage years, or maybe even until college.

But one thing no revelation would ever change. My love for the islands. Any islands. All islands. My childhood in Punaouilo had given me this strange twist as a traveler -- to spend my life visiting islands. I had begun this circuit in the days when I lived with Angelo -- my boyfriend from adolescence through college -- in Vice City, and the Caribbean Sea began at our feet.

And I have never wanted to travel the world in a different way. Islands. The Cyclades, the Grenadines, the Maldives, the Galapagos, the Baleares, Virgin Islands, French Polynesia -- not just places, not just names, but memories that nurtured me. Porquerolles, San Andrés, Pantelleria, St. Lucia, Montserrat, Los Roques sounded like delicious ripe fruits and made my mouth salivate.

My attraction to Iceland had begun in the childhood with Jules Verne, but only later would it become irresistible, through the music of Björk and Sigur Rós, with which I had infected Fabrizio -- and the idea to travel through Iceland on an off-road vehicle had actually come from him, after his interest in the country had been aroused by the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions.

It had been three weeks around the island -- and no day had been less than truly surprising and full of wonders. In a morning we visited a luxuriant green valley dotted with lakes and waterfalls, along a raging river with spectacular, dramatic falls, to then climb the road to the hills at the back, and on their top started a barren plateau scattered with rocks of all colors, and following that road we'd reach a field of steaming volcanic pools, and next we'd stumble upon an extraordinary icebergs' lagoon before we arrived on the coast, the black sand beaches where swans surfed the waves -- all in a single day, and we hadn't rushed nor were we trying to cross the country. A single wrong turn would take us on a deserted road along streams of hot water that ended at a stunning pond at the bottom of a volcano, or an unimaginable field of soft, tender moss extending till the horizon. 

Although I hadn't drunk a single drop of liquor in years, I felt like I had been intoxicated daily in Iceland.

"Babe, look... The moon is rising over the ocean..." I had just seen it emerge over the horizon. "Let's watch it... Are you coming with me?"

For our last week in Iceland, Fabrizio had rented a house on the coast, south of Reykjavik. The house was a  stark modern glass box opening to a striking wild and barren landscape, with no neighbors in sight, and it had been designed by a famous contemporary Icelandic architect -- this was a tradition and way of traveling for Fabrizio. 

He did not like being en route for too long, preferring to spend his vacations in one place only. His holidays in family had been spent on a palace at the edge of the Lago di Como, and had deeply, happily influenced and inspired him for the rest of his life.

In any country, was it Indonesia or Morocco, Fabrizio enjoyed renting a home, be it historical and ancient or the work of a famous contemporary architect, and turn it into his base for traveling -- or simply make it his entire experience of that country. He had done this for many years, usually in the company of Andara and their group of friends -- who now truly disliked me, or even hated me, because since we had started dating, Fabrizio would go traveling with me only. 

Not that any of his friends would have joined us, anyway. And having fought my best friends recently, I had no one to invite, either. But we don't needed -- nor wanted -- company.

Fabrizio had actually enjoyed the Icelandic Ring Road for having taken us to so many amazing sites through the astonishing landscape, and he enjoyed driving cars that were comfortable and safe. But he seemed much happier now that we were comfortably installed in our cozy Icelandic home with spectacular views.

I had rejoiced every day of our trip across the country, and was now happy to be in such a beautiful house -- but what mattered the most to me was Fabrizio's company.


And to think that this had been my first impression of him.

What a prick! -- that had been my second impression of him. And my opinion only got worse as that arrogant jerk made ​​me wait longer in the queue.

I had been quite angry already that day -- me and almost the entire population of Vice City. A huge blackout  had affected major parts of the city, causing monstrous traffic jams -- and I had arrived late and stressed at the airport, only to find out that my flight had been canceled.

On that day in 2010 there were hundreds of people in the same situation, but that presumptuous executive ahead of me in the queue seemed to think he was the only one with problems, and wouldn't leave the counter.

"Sir, I'm sorry, but it's not our fault. There is no network... My computer isn't working!" the attendant said, helplessly.

"That's no excuse, dear!" the executive replied promptly, "I cannot believe you just didn't take this kind of contingency into account and will leave us with no information! I should have been flying, and every minute here is costing me a fortune! I'll simply have to sue your company."

"Sir, we were told to get all passengers' names and once our system is back, we will relocate them on the flights according to availability... There are many passengers in the same situation, sir, and I'm counting on your cooperation to--"

Exactly!, I thought. This queue needs to move, if this egotistic asshole moves, too.

I was not happy to be back in Vice City. It seemed that my connection with that damned city would never finish. After my relationship with Angelo had ended, I promised myself to never again reside in that town -- and that part of the promise, at least, I had kept. But my career in the arts seemed to be based in Vice City, and I confess I was afraid to loosen this connection.

 Dan Charmand, the almighty powerful director of Vice's Contemporary Art Museum, remained being the mentor of my artistic career, and I owed him all sorts of favors -- it might have been easier to have had sex with him to pay my debts, but he also knew that, and with so many hot guys at his disposal he'd rather play a different kind of game with me, and keep me under his protection and dominance.

He would often act as a father to me -- often despotic, sometimes comprehensive and even permissive, but always a very present one . I think secretly he enjoyed taking the role that should have been Carlo's, the great painter he seemed thus to displace and replace. Having at an early stage in our relationship perceived my need for a fatherly figure, Dan had then installed himself at the center of my life, both personal and professional, nosy about my bed and my easel. Until very recently, when I found out he had greatly harmed my father's career at its initial stages, and now I was trying to keep my distance from Dan, too. On top of that, he had also stolen my best friend from me -- but that comes later in the this story. Now it's about Fabrizio and me, so back to him, at the darkened airport.

"The phones are working, aren't they? I'm willing to see your good will, calling your superior to offer us a better solution than simply waiting here!" The conceited executive insisted, keeping his tone down and artificially calm. Actually, he had a nice and deep, very sexy voice. "As a frequent flyer and first class passenger I would have expected a different attitude on your part." He had a slight accent, though, that was easily identifiable as Italian. Carlo had a much stronger accent, but my ex-boyfriend Angelo, even though he had tried to excell in losing it, had kept that same slight accent that was quite charming.

"One moment, sir..." The attendant was trying to remain friendly and polite. "I'll try to learn if there is any new information or instructions..."

And thus that standstill queue would carry on.

But my own life, especially in Vice City, had become a stalemate.

My exhibition in 2008 had achieved both critical and public recognition -- and my naked self-portraits had even yielded me an invitation to pose for an homoerotic photography website (that I had refused, of course). All that exposure, including the dreaded personal and private part of it, and even a bit of scandal when two men had broken into the museum during the night to make a menage à trois with the aluminium sculpture -- a life-size naked reclining self-portrait -- that I had included in my show, had all collaborated to invigorate the interest of many Contemporary Art collectors around the world. My art dealer had been quite pleased with how my works were selling.

"Janice, you gotta get me out of here!" The executive talked over the phone with his secretary. "A helicopter! What is the flight range of a helicopter? Honey, do you know what the flight range of a helicopter is?" He asked the attendant at the counter. "No, of course you don't know that, too... Janice, get me a helicopter from the Army!" I tried to check the executive's age, because he sounded like a teenager playing a commando game, but I could not see his face.

But then came the financial market's crash in late 2008, and the art market had been paralyzed. My exhibition, which was to last only three and a half months, was extended to seven when sponsors withdrew funds and Dan Charmand asked me to keep the show in that room, that otherwise would be left vacant. 

At first, I had been happy with the chance to be seen in such a prestigious space by even more people -- but that extension was to become equally upsetting when Dan asked me to continue with a series of workshops, programmed only for the first three months, and which would eventually extend throughout 2009 also. 

Apparently, I was a success with the young crowd, with housewives and the elderly of Vice City, and I had attracted a paying audience that really mattered for Dan at the time. 

"Sir, this is a historic day in Vice City, and sadly not in a good sense..." the attendant apologized, "We have never seen such a tremendous blackout! All flights have been canceled! I ask for your understanding--"

"Honey ... This day is much more historic for me and my company, and I need to fly now!" the presumptuous executive persisted.

Finally, when his phone's battery died, and there was no way to recharge it at the airport, the guy seemed to suffer such a blow as to discourage him, and he finally gave up. I was next at the counter. Good, because I was almost pissing in my pants.

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