This was my girlfriend 19 years ago. She was at home in the East Village when the planes started flying into the twin towers, and the Pentagon. I was in Manchester with my future wife, Raquel.
Her name is Camille. She is now a photographer in Berlin. Don't worry, she shoots Nikon.
She has taken on a new interest and vocation in life: assisting others in accepting death. She told me this morning. We were chatting via text. She said that she is good at what she does; helping people find meaning in their lives. I believe her. She is very smart and talented. She aided greatly in assisting me to accept the death of our love. I can think of no one who might have improved on her process.
The morning of 9/11 I was recording a dance track (posted below) with a few friends. Raquel was a partner in a successful record label at the time and she had started a sub-label to release the type of oddball music that I made. This track never made it on to that weirdo label. For reasons that I can not now recall it made its way onto another bizarre label owned by a different friend of mine. I can't remember all the minutiae. That's why they call it dope - it dissolves details into a miasmic whole.
From Manchester, after the terror, I called British Airways to change my flight. I did not want to go back to NYC right away. I made sure that Camille was okay. I made arrangements to fly to Florida.
When I went to the airport to fly out British Airways lost my passport. They tried to blame me for this. In fact, the woman at the counter tried to claim that she had not even seen my passport yet. Her fatal flaw was that she had already given me my boarding pass. Her flimsy claim became sticky once her manager became involved. I held the boarding pass up and asked if it was British Airways custom to distribute boarding passes to unknown and unidentified travelers after the horror that what we had all recently seen unfold over the skies of New York.
She implored me to search my bag again. I stared at her and explained flatly that looking where we knew the passport was not would never solve our problem. She had given it to another passenger who dropped it on the ground at Heathrow. I found all of this out many months later after spending a night in London and appealing desperately to the US embassy to please allow me a temporary permit to travel home, which they granted. The passport office in San Francisco mailed my lost passport to me a few weeks after my new one arrived, with holes punched through the personally identifying portion.
In the brief interim - between the trembling of 9/11 and the lost passport - Raquel and I began to fall in love. We had maybe ten days alone together. One leisurely day we drove to the border between Cheshire and Wales. This is, in part, why our son has a Welsh name - Rhys.
A parenthetical aside: if an English city ends in the suffix "chester/caster/cester" then that means that it was conquered by the Romans and was significant enough for them to build a military base there. It was a linguistic-geographic device that was used, a convention that remains to this day. I have walked along Hadrian's wall in North England, west of Newcastle, where I discovered this same information.
We went to the city of Chester, which very boringly translates to "camp," or castrum in Latin. However, it being a very well-preserved old Roman camp meant that the city is still almost entirely walled. As heretical as this may sound to an historian, Raquel and I walked atop the wall for a significant portion of the city perimeter the day that we were there. We had very little else to do. We inspected book stores. We wandered aimlessly and stopped into pubs for the occasional lager. We also had sex, in a Starbuck's bathroom. She invited me in with her. She had to pee. There was a mirror on the wall. It started with her mouth and it was all very sweet.
To this day I credit Osama Bin Laden with the lion's share of our happiness.
I told Camille. About a year later she broke my heart thoroughly and seemingly without remorse. We did not speak for a few years afterwards. Such were my heart-won principles. One day she unexpectedly called and we chatted for a few hours, almost as if nothing had happened, which coincided perfectly with her claims of sustained fidelity towards me. A silly and useless lie that has faded into the night skies in the intervening years since. There is no point in insisting on such a thing once it has been repeatedly disproven.
I traveled back to Manchester a few times during the ensuing year that I was still with Camille. But I would not sleep with Raquel any more while I was there. In this simple act of unprovoked fidelity I earned something corresponding to Raquel's respect, I think. I could have slept with her. She offered. Something compelled and reminded me not to, which turned out to be a lucky thing. Rachel wanted a faithful man. How could she be sure of my principles had they not stood so strongly at the entrance to her affections, the foyer of her velvety delta, and after tempting and compromising beers at the pub every night.
She would walk up to the bedroom door, which was visible from the downstairs couch where I slept, and wish me tender and inviting goodnight, then close the door on me only slightly lighter than a slam.
Things fell apart then fell back together again between Raquel and I many times since then. We are even now in a perpetual state of uncertainty. We have a child together. We are divorced. We live together. We know very little of each other's responsibilities. We have regular sex, which according to all that I have read is nearly miraculous at our respective ages. We sleep apart most nights. We laugh a lot. We rarely scream. We have recently started talking again about the future. We are slightly less successful at breaking up than we are at reconciling.