Readings — From the May 2017 issue

A Dream Preferred

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By Anaïs Nin (1903–77), from diary entries written in March 1947 in New York City. Trapeze, an unexpurgated section of Nin’s diaries spanning from 1947 to 1955, was published this month by Swallow Press. Nin was the author of more than a dozen works of fiction and memoir.

I was recovering from all the deep wounds of Bill Pinckard’s absence, of Gore Vidal’s unattainableness, of the disintegration of my love for Gonzalo. Hugo was away in Cuba, and I was going out with Bernard Pfriem, a vital, charming man who desired me but whom I did not desire.

Hazel McKinley is a burlesque queen in private life who strips herself bare at her parties, literally, and then the next day informs her friends of the previous night’s doings over the telephone. Hazel is blond, very fat, weighing at least two hundred pounds, a painter of childish watercolors proclaiming her age to be all of thirteen, an insatiable nymphomaniac who is always starved for men because they rarely stay more than one night. She telephoned me: “Oh, Anaïs, bring me some men. I’m having a little party, and I haven’t any men I could be interested in! Please, Anaïs.”

I, thinking that she would attack Bernard and keep him, agreed to come.

When I arrived at the hotel, I was ushered into an elevator with a tremendously tall young man. As I saw his handsome face, I said to myself: Caution. Danger.

His name was Rupert Pole.

In Hazel’s room, he and I stood talking for a moment. Rupert spoke first, having heard I was Spanish. Ordinary remarks. He intimated his belief in pacifism and mystical studies.

Later we found ourselves on the couch. I was on my guard. But somehow or other we talked about printing (he excused himself for the condition of his hands), and that created a bond. I told him I had printed my books; he told me he was printing Christmas cards to earn a living. I told him I was a writer; he told me he was an actor out of work.

He is twenty-eight. His mother is remarried, to the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. His father is a writer. As we talked, we plunged deep, deep eyes into each other. Then people intervened.

I was ready to leave early because Bernard was frightened by Hazel’s advances and wanted to make love to me. Rupert came up and said, “I would like to see you again.”

That night while Bernard made love to me, it was Rupert’s face that hung before my eyes.

Later, Rupert called me. Hugo was away in Cuba. I invited him for dinner. I lit all the candles I had placed on the Spanish feast table. He took charge of the dinner. I sat far from him on the couch. We did not talk very long. His eyes were wet and glistening, and he was hungry for caresses. The radio was playing the love scene of Tristan and Isolde. We stood up. My mood was, above all, amazement — to see this beautiful, incredible face over mine, and to find in this slender, dreamy, remote young man a burst of electric passion.

The second surprise was that I, who never responded the first time in any love affair, responded to Rupert. His arms were strong. He pressed his body against mine as if he wanted to penetrate it from head to foot. The candles burned away. Tristan and Isolde sang sadly.

He stayed on. We talked. We made sandwiches. We fell asleep on my small bed. In the morning I wore a white kimono. It was snowing. I made breakfast. Rupert said something lyrical, poetic, and drove off, leaving the light of his sea eyes to illumine the day.

Would it only last one night? I asked myself, no longer able to believe in happiness.

He disappeared for several days. He had an infected finger. He was entangled with an ex-wife and a mistress he did not love.

Hugo returned.

Hugo was out for the evening when Rupert came with his guitar and sang. At midnight I had to send him away. I went to see him at his printing press. Rupert, so unique in appearance, so poetic, so aristocratic, seemed incongruous printing Christmas cards. That day I intended to stay an hour. Rupert said no, I was having dinner with him. So he took me to his shabby and unkempt little apartment. He kicked his soiled clothes into the closet, blushed for the disorder, but all I minded was the bare, glaring electric bulbs. He gave me his kimono to wear and a bad metaphysical book he admired.

Our next encounter was at a Spanish restaurant on 14th Street. Rupert said in the middle of dinner, “I am driving back to Los Angeles soon. You once said you wanted to go to Mexico. Why don’t you drive with me to Los Angeles and then go on with your trip from there?”

“Yes, why not?” I said.

Aside from our marvelous nights, what most attracted me was our harmony of rhythm. We got dressed at equal speed; we packed quickly. We leaped into the car; all our responses and reflexes were swift. There was a great elation in this for me, after living with Hugo’s slow, laborious rhythm.

“Does it make you happy to know you have brought me back to life?” I asked. “You seemed very alive to me.”“But sad.”“Yes, sad. But I shall make you happier still. I have our trip all planned.”

In Rupert there is enough physical resemblance to Bill Pinckard that I feel I am continuing my love for Bill, that I do not feel I am deserting Bill. A more hot-blooded Bill he is.

Rupert is capable. He takes over the cooking, expertly. He repairs his own car. He does not ask, as Gonzalo does: “Where is the knife? Where is the salt?”

I bought, for Rupert, my first pair of slacks.

Gonzalo comes every day. We kiss on the cheeks. He looks like a tired old lion. He works at the press, at home. I get him printing jobs.

It is the confusion of relationships that causes the misery, seeking to make them what they are not.

Everything is clear now.

Hugo is still completely in love with me. All I ask is passion with Rupert — romance — a dream.

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