About fifteen minutes ago I was still intent in moving a couch, discovering under it remnants of old vegetable life, books, nails etc plus a photograph: it was of Maria Telsa’s hand. And it had been taken by me about thirty years ago, but had not resided under my present that long. The photo had survived two marriages and two painful moves over thirty some years, but from the hand almost gripping a thigh covered with cloth I did recognize its rightful owner: Maria Tesla.
Thin, agile, with hooded eyes and a large but pouting mouth, the essence of a sensual being, like a sullen cat staring at a mouse, which also stares back. She had been born in the Italian Alps, survived WWII and married an American soldier on leave, one of those straight buttoned young men who were elated not just as having survived, but as having become victors in the civilized world. She had just become nineteen and lounged at the chance to go far away from the ordinary bourgeois life of the Italian middle class.
America, America did not only present her with freedoms she would never have had in Italy as a female, but with a wealthy husband who in due time became also a very heavy drinker and a contractor accumulating cash by contracting for bridge repairs in Philadelphia. Her estate was immense and contained also a lake, her children, 5 of them, ran wild in the estate, as I still recall, and her American mother in law, also of Italian lineage, yelled at her from the upstairs windows of the white painted mansion on the Philadelphia Main Line. while our feet played in the shallow water of the artificial lake. She appeared to have everything a woman may want. Yet she did not. She had too much, if this is possible, and had become bored. She and I exchanged saucy male tales on her side off the fence, as we cooled off in the lake. My tales came from literature read in my early youth, hers came from daily life. At the time I was experiencing ESP, “ Extra Sensory Perception?” and had told her of unusual experiences occurring mostly when my husband was with me, while we were mostly abroad. For a long while our minds had been on a similar frequency but as our relationship eroded, so did the ESP experiences.
I had read about the research done at Duke University in the sixties and there appeared to be a relationship about pointed hits when the two people involved at a distance had “communal interests “or were in love, etc… there appeared to be an inkling that some people at a “right” time were able to “read” one another’s mind”.
Up to that point I had not experienced this and had not yet read research about it. This would not occur for another ten years after the story Maria Tesla was about to tell me. Being bored and being rich is a curious combination. For women with no professional education, flirtations had become a sport, a social sport akin to playing golf on Saturdays for the upper class moneymakers. It was done since there were no consequences and everyone knew about it. Social acceptance makes things right, at least in Italy, and she was Italian.
The Main Line socialites had accepted her because she had vivacity, superior taste in clothing and was rich. As the married years went by and her husband emptied more bottles of Chianti wine, she met an older Italia cinema producer. Matteo was his name, age late sixties or something in that late blooming age group. Well dressed older Italian men still slim and agile, dying their hair and having tailor made clothes were still impressive, particularly in their seductive arts. An old friend of mine, a General, had at 72 fallen in love with a twenty four year old Italian woman from the southern provinces, named Katia, while I and my daughter were still his tenants in his villa in Rome, He still scored, somehow, even as he did complain of “ having lost his horns!” and would have given anything to be even just fifty years old! I was actually glad about Katia’s beautiful, young presence overnight. Fortunately my landlord had no extra eyes left for me! But I enjoyed hearing of his military and just human adventures and learned that people are people no matter what their age is.
Matteo had also lost his horns but made up, as the General also said, by wearing Vaseline on his hands and wearing gloves at night before having romantic encounters. I never asked Maria Tesla whether she also needed such adjuncts. All I remember is that she told me this was the first time in all of her life that she was totally lost in rapture for a man, even as he was a smoker and made her cough.
Of course I was not present as the two carried on their autumn repertoire. But one thing I do remember: her long, thin, and manicured to perfection slender hands, which were to my hands as the Himalaya to a small town’s hill. My photo of her hand in front of me reminds me of her worship: beauty. I drew her portrait twice, hat and no hat and always wondered how someone who had broken all the Greek rules of perfection could be so alluring when dressed up to the head. I always did like beautiful fabrics, whether I wore them or not. Had she not worn them, no one would have looked at her twice: the magic was created by how she wore what she wore.
But she must have had also some different kind of magic, because her adventure with Marco lasted for more then a year. He returned to Italy because more work had opened up for him In Cinecitta, (Italy’s Hollywood) and he never came back. --- Did he really? ---- Here comes the punch line.
Maria Tesla made it a point of calling me one afternoon, years ago, because I was interested in unusual experiences and she wanted to share one with me.
The day before she had been walking through her kitchen holding a vase of flowers, some of the kind Marco brought her at times when he visited her in her Philadelphia apartment. Suddenly she smelled smoke. Turned her head in that direction still holding the flowers and saw the still smoking cigarette butt on the ceramic edge of her kitchen table. There was no one else in the apartment and she did not smoke, but Marco always did. Instantly she knew that somehow, he was still there.
She called me: “ Could I certify the phenomenon!”,…………………………………………………..
I still have neither means nor theories to certify my own phenomenal content, nor why incomprehensible occurrences come to being, but they do, whether they are synchronous or not.