I couldn't resist - I had to throw out a few crumbs , just to tease you.
Okay. Are you ready? You sure? I could go do the meme I'm supposed to do this week...No?
So we arrived at the palace, just a few minutes after 6 pm. The eroding driveway was so overgrown that Bea almost missed it, and when I pointed it out, she said, disbelieving, "Really? Is is safe?" I led her up the brick stairs that were almost invisible under an invading blanket of ivy and we were met at the top by Cleo, who hugged us both and asked after all the family.
See now, it would have been harder to get through, but infinitely better blog fodder if she had been doing her on-stage thing. Now you all think I'm making up the Sarah Bernhardt/Cleopatra thing, which I wasn't, but then she had to go and act all normal and shit. It's like some kind of radar or something.
We went in and settled ourselves on the wonderful old screened porch that sits atop the garage. It's always been one of my favorite spots in this house, and it's certainly one of the coolest. There was a drape that hid the door from view, and as a child, I would hide there when I'd had enough of playing, enjoying Cleo's escalating ire at not being able to find me. Bea and I had brought along a cooler of party beverages, but Cleo was just coming off a 9 day juice fast and was drinking vegetable broth, so she abstained.
There, are you happy? She was drinking vegetable broth, instead of eating, for crying out loud, and that's only the tip of that girl's iceberg. The last time I went to the beach with her she freaked out all the local color with her hairy arm-pitted, sun saluting yoga stuff. Folks just aren't that groovular around here.
We talked about her mom, and her last few months. We brought up the obligatory ancient history and discussed possible whys for some of her mother's more traumatic and showy moments in parenting, how it affected all of us in different ways. We didn't eulogize the woman, but neither did we eviscerate her, because where does that get any of us, especially now? I was relieved to hear Cleo talk about her mother in such an insightful way; glad I wasn't going to have to pick her up and re piece her sense of self back together. She seemed to have found deeper understanding and peace with her mother, in those last months spent together, and for her sake, I was grateful. Closure is so important in getting on with your life, and easier to achieve with a living person.
I asked her if she remembered the time we were approached in the park by a man in a trench coat. He wanted to show us "a little something" and our answers were polar opposites: she said yes, and I said no, as I dragged her from the park. Since that particular memory is from the same period she had blanked out on years before, I wasn't surprised she didn't recall it. It is my fate as a historian that I remember what others forget.
We also talked about our love lives and what we were doing in the here and now. Cleo included Bea in these conversations, and was a kinder, gentler hostess than I have ever remembered. All in all, and rather anti-climactically, we had a lovely evening together. Even Bea would concur.
I feel kind of ashamed of myself for building you up, just to say, "Yeah, it was alright", but Cleo did tell me she's planning on having one of her famous birthday parties in October. Now those are never staid or dull.
So stay tuned - October is just around the corner!