I first see her in an artist materials class in Art School in 1981. She is to my eyes unusually gorgeous, unhappy, and prone to submitting outrageous projects for class assignments. An example of this is an abstract painting with her actual bra embedded within the wildly splattered paint. I cannot take my eyes off her, but she takes no real notice of me at first. I mention to the female teacher that I think “Cecile is beautiful,” and she says to me, “You should tell her that.” I do tell her one morning after class that she “should smile more,” and she tells me “she has nothing to smile about,” then leaves anxiously for her next class. Later that afternoon, I hear a knock on my on campus dorm room door and open it up to see Cecile standing there. I don’t recall telling her I live here, but I feel excitement when I invite her inside and allow her to go through my artwork, seeing her smile while doing so.
We soon go on a double date. We visit Huntington Beach to see where an artist friend of mine paints his seascapes from a rocky bluff. Cecile impulsively decides to frolic in the waves with her pants and sweater on. We are supposed to be headed to West LA for dinner next so my friend takes us all to his parent’s nearby house to dry Cecile out and get her a change of clothes; somehow Cecile and I end up in the same bedroom while she gets into a revealing spare dress. I see her happily nude before we even share a kiss.
We sit in the back seat of other couple’s car and drive to Los Angeles for a nice dinner out near West LA. We are making small talk, when I see a nun on the street and make an inappropriate remark about religion in general and nuns in particular. Cecile turns to me and says if I ever say that about nuns again she will scratch my eyes out! She then reaches for me and kisses me for the first time with more zeal than I have ever felt. We start making out as I quickly realize I won’t say no to her. We arrive and walk along a trendy shopping area of town to get to the restaurant, and I can tell by the heads turning that Cecile attracts more than my attention as we walk holding hands for the first time. She is radiant, smiling and with a profile that that is a cross between Barbara Streisand and Nefertiti, people are staring at her as if to think, ”Who is this girl?”
Cecile is a Roman Catholic of Lebanese and French descent. I am a Unitarian who loves evolutionary psychology. She is studying Opera, art, and from a poor religious family. I am an undeveloped but talented student studying Drawing and Painting. While at a dinner at her home I discover that the tension in her house exceeds that which exists in my home. Her parents are beyond suspicious of me, and very protective of her, an over compensation that leads to her moving out in a dramatic fashion. Apparently Disneyland is not an appropriate place for a date, and she runs away from home in my parent’s station wagon. That night she both attempts to jump out of the moving car and creates a sexual evening that will never be duplicated by anyone. She is an intoxicating brew, and I am becoming addicted to her. We explode together like stored fireworks in a warehouse. Unintended damage is the result. This ends my prior girlfriend’s relationship with me in a very hurtful way. My male friends are either appalled at her wanton ways or just salivating for a chance at her. My parents are worried about how she will affect my education. She and I have both been tempered by circumstances appalling to us, and now we are acting out an experience more suited to our once latent talents. We do not fight or argue. We instead sexually collide until utterly spent. We do this as often as possible, losing sleep, and occasionally classes, depending only on whether or not I have anything left. She expresses to me honestly that she does not know whether to become a Nun or a Porn Star. She has conflicting feelings about that but commits to me with everything she has. Cops, domestic disputes, poor grades, getting fired, homelessness, no transportation, jealous roommates, parents, all play roles in futilely keeping us apart. We will not deny ourselves this passion.
We see each other’s flaws. We do not idealize each other. We instead take aim and fire, rarely missing each other. We drive our bodies to their limits, but never sate our desire. We love, but it is our passion as artists and inexhaustible youthful lust that enchants us both. We truly appreciate each other’s abilities. I can make beautiful things and Cecile can sing beautifully with incredible range. She also could compose music and play the piano at the drop of a hat. She sings at my sister’s wedding and all who hear her sing the Lord’s Prayer and Ava Maria fall in love with her. At the following reception my kissing cousins aimed their dagger eyes at her. She was the only person smart enough to sit me down and make me understand what my true talent is, “you are a sculptor” she tells me. She encourages me to take risks and I attempt to settle her down. Sounds ideal but we are not ideal people. I am young and relatively immature and she is recovering from a recent suicide attempt (slashed her wrists), enjoys drugs and possesses a rebellious nature that meant she could flip off a police officer at the worst possible time. “Not stable” is my mother’s word for Cecile.
Cecile’s religion and my quest for a more rational truth eventually form a wedge that prevents us from committing to each other in the time honored way society calls marriage. She wants me to convert, and I will not. I encourage her to continue her faith, but on Sundays I will not be going to church. She never says yes or no to this proposition. Instead, she again adopts the unhappy expression I remember she wore upon first seeing her. Our future ends and we both began to seek others until my eventual marriage to my wife prevented me from keeping any contact with her. At this moment I do not really know where she is, if she is alive, and have not as yet paid to find out.
A love story from my distant past. Written as a birthday gift for Sati here at RB.