Demanding Venus

I had doubts. When I heard the directors make promises to bait clients, promises which I knew couldn’t be kept, I had doubts. They’d worry about that further down the road. I’d worry about that, further down the road, because it was my job to deliver the promises. When they changed their intended location, it ceased to be consensual, and I had my doubts.

So, I held back.

I saw a flip side. My life was coasting; moving hit the gas. A fresh adventure, a fresh city, a fresh continent, even. They called it the greatest city in the world – the new world – anyone who was anyone was here. And so was I.

For the last six months, I strode purposefully along Wall Street each morning to work, braving the fumes. In Battery Park, I breathed more deeply. Yes, this was where I was supposed to be. I had arrived. This city was my future.

These last six months, I had enjoyed my new life. The bars, the restaurants… and as a guest fuelled by an expense account, had loved every minute.

And here I am, visiting the greatest city in the old world, saying my goodbyes.

When they changed the destination, too, I lucked out. As a start-up just setting foot in the country, we could have settled anywhere, and the initial plan was to be a thousand miles down the coast, in warmer climes. That was the ticket I bought into. Then our partner had upped the ante. They wanted us near, and eager to please, like someone following their suitor, the directors changed our plans.

I couldn’t complain, the change worked for me. I hadn’t thought much of this “new” world, although the intimacy of Manhattan, I liked. More than liked. This was a place I belonged. Yes, this place could be my future. And a past? Who needed a past?

Yet here I am, visiting the past for the last time. A few days ago, I left Luxembourg, my bolthole, and its thousand years of history, its pinprick medieval castles woven seamlessly into its Black Forest tapestry. I drove west 250 miles, to another place I “belonged”, and have just said goodbye to my best friend, meeting her son for the first time in the process. I finally arrive in my home from home.

The rental car I enjoyed now encumbers me, as I temporarily swap the five boroughs for the narrow streets of the Fifth arrondissement, and I finally abandon my chariot and strike out on foot.

And I spend the weekend just “absorbing”. Nothing special, just living life; I shop at the Galeries, I eat, I “soak”. All the old haunts, as I ponder my move.

My last afternoon is reserved for my favourite. Drawn there, as a lover. I make some time, every visit, though this time is special. Ma cherie, hiding her treasures beneath the snaking hordes, in her vitreous pyramide. But I know her intimately, and far from the crowds, I reach my first goal, my favourite artist. While the British have Constable, the French have Corot, whose cypresses won me over years ago.

After an hour spent in renewed reverence, I cannot resist viewing the masters. La joconde smirks back at me, as only she can, further confusing my thoughts of departure. And then, my Aphrodite. Two thousand years of history standing before me. As I bow in her presence, I pose my question. Slowly, imperceptibly, she turns to me. And gives her response.

In 1996-7, I was faced with the biggest choice of my life, whether to take a job in Manhattan. The suitor I mention was Chase Manhattan, who were the larger partner in our joint venture. We started over there down at Chase’s campus in Tampa, Fl, but they upped the importance of the project and “suggested”, as only Chase could, that we move to New York City.

The visa process was arduous but finally, six months after I first applied, it was in my hand. In my last few weeks in Europe, I “did the rounds”, and besides being one of my favourite cities, Paris was the home to some good friends.

With hindsight, I made my decision in the Louvre, which houses the magnificent sculpture of Venus de Milo. I couldn’t walk away from all that history.


    • I definitely got fed up criss-crossing the Atlantic, so in my mind, it was either Europe or the US, but pick one, for good. As it was, after I decided to stay in Europe, I have never returned to the US.

      As if happens, Paris was never viable for working in IT. It was very much little league, compared to London or NYC, but was a brilliant place to visit.

      Five years post-stroke, there is little hope of visiting any of them, any more. I did get over to France in the summer, but that trip seemed to lurch from one disaster to the next. It scared me to see how anxious I have become, and relying now on public transport sucks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well I miss Europe I miss traveling a lot. I think for me London is the new NYC in terms of where I would love to reside although financially speaking both are sky high
        Public transport in Europe is great I think much better then in the US but anxiety is a bitch I know firsthand 😢

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’d have liked to have done more while I was in NYC but I was working full time, not there as a tourist. And there was limited energy to do things at weekends. Funnily enough, I wish I had visited Yankee Stadium, although I was never a fan of baseball. I had the chance to go to the Garden but declined because I didn’t like basketball, either.
          I was shocked to see my anxiety. So much so, if I go anyplace else again, it has to be on my own, because I do not want to risk letting anybody else down.

          Liked by 1 person

          • NYC has a lot to offer so much off the beaten path ! I’ve been there maybe 20 times in the last 15 years and barely scratched the surface
            Listen many people gave anxiety in various forms and empathy with it is much different than sympathy because of it
            Letting people down is nonsense
            Those that care about you won’t see it that way just saying

            Liked by 1 person

            • Maybe. I think the safest bet is just to assume that people have neither empathy nor sympathty. I don’t think that’s too far from the truth.
              But if I’m self-reliant anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

              Liked by 1 person

                • Yes it can be lonely. But otherwise you’re setting yourself up for people to let you down.
                  Me? I’d like to be but I wish I was better. Obviously, some things I undertstand. I have a hard time with mental illness because of my daughter.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I will say that I have some wonderful friends that are lube family to me and they have gotten me through this past year of lockdown when my brother and his family weren’t there for me
                    I understand what you are saying
                    Mental illness is a tough subject to discuss

                    Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, Michele put me in mind of the path less chosen and it was all a wonderful journey. Sounds marvelous and art
    is a passion of mine I could spend days in different museums admiring the sculptures and the masters. A very
    enjoyable story well told.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Within a few months of this decision, I had set up my own business. Within 18 months I met Mrs Bump and a year after that, became a father, so just with all that happening so quickly afterwards, it was probably the right decision to make.

      I think with hindsight, the saddest thing about NYC was that I didn’t realise that it was finite. If I had, I might have pushed myself to use my free time more wisely. But, you know, twenty-somethings are idiots anyhow!

      Liked by 1 person

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