Antidote Wedding Vows, August 14, 2009
It all seems like a movie to me, this crazy romance of mine that was to have culminated in a wedding this evening. Its seeds must have been planted five years ago in Vienna; we even went to Hotel Sacher, like in The Third Man. Then, as in David Lean’s Summertime, our love affair began in earnest in Italy, and, as in An American in Paris, it continued during a few romantic days there. During the next six months our romance often felt alternately like a Hitchcock movie and a Fellini film. For some reason, tonight the final scene of The Philadelphia Story keeps playing in my head. I feel like Katharine Hepburn’s character, Tracy Lord, apologizing to her family and friends who’d gathered for a wedding that wasn’t going to take place.
Instead of a wedding, tonight I just want to tell all of you how sincerely grateful I am. I want to thank you, my co-workers, family and dearest friends, for your support during those seven months I was madly in love. Thank you for taking care of things at school. Thank you for looking after Buster for me when I was away. Thanks for the rides to and from the airport, laden with luggage full of e-bay purchases and gifts. Thank you for keeping the doubts -- which you surely must have had -- to yourself as I embarked upon what must have seemed like a mad adventure destined to end in heartbreak. As you all recall, I was deliriously happy during the seven months I was in love, and I want to thank you for being happy for me when it seemed I had finally found the soul-mate for whom I have long searched. Thank you, too, for your support in January when the love affair ended miserably in the course of just one day. And thank you for reading the fictionalized account of the romance in my book and for viewing the nearly one hundred drawings that also tell the story of this past year. Perhaps now you have more insight into what was going on in my heart and mind those months of my grand amour fou.
I also want to thank he who was once my love, he who would have become my third and final husband tonight. Louis, I sincerely thank you for your affection and for the tenderness and intimacy we once shared. I am deeply grateful not only for your love, but also for your belief in me as an artist and a writer, which propelled me into one of the most intense periods of creative activity I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s not often that I produce a hundred drawings, much less a 350-page novel, in the course of one short year. Thank you so much for the energy and inspiration you sparked in me. I hope, in this, at least, that you were not wrong – that my work is important. Thank you for believing that I’ve earned my rightful place alongside Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabeth Vignée-Lebrun, Camille Claudel, the Louises Bourgeois and Nevelson, Pina Bausch, Frida Kahlo, Simone de Beauvoir, the Brontës, Anne Frank and Anaïs Nin.
I’m grateful to you for proving to me that my heart is still alive, still capable of loving and, evidently, still hopeful. I would not have believed it possible at my age, and with my past romantic failures, that I could once again love so deeply and with such passion as I loved you. I would be lying to you now if I did not admit I miss your intellectual companionship, the quirky, esoteric interests we alone shared, your hands and your kisses. I miss playing Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller with you. Even though we have no future together, tonight I promise to treasure the beautiful, rich memories of our time together. I realize we are like the movies: at the end, I still know so little about you that you remain a mystery, a shadowy character like one written by Patricia Highsmith for Hitchcock – like the talented Mr. Ripley. And I, probably, will remain in your mind your Madelyn from Vertigo: an ideal, an anima projection. When I became uncomfortably “real,” our time together had to come to its inevitable ending and I had to disappear. I am a photograph, removed from your wallet and thrown away. Still, I have no regrets. Everything has turned out exactly the way Fate meant it to for both of us, my old love. Louis, I wish you well. I’ll quote Rick in Casablanca: “We’ll always have Paris.” And to Paris I will return alone to reclaim my city, as an antidote honeymoon.
I had originally planned to perform this piece as part of my wedding vows to Louis. So, in the words of Tracy Lord, “as originally and beautifully planned” I will now do just that to “Face the Music,” sung by Fred Astaire, from his movie Follow the Fleet. As I recall, Astaire sang it to a suicidal Ginger Rogers on the deck of a ship as she contemplated jumping overboard.