In the early hours of this morning, a missive arrived from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent. She lives on a boat in Vancouver.
Strange things are happening at the marina.
An old man on the dock, whom I’ve never met before, just greeted me with a cheerful “You’re back,” even though I have been nowhere for a month.
A friend of my extended family is an exotically dressed elderly socialite from Brazil named Benita. I feel imaginarily glamorous when I run into her. She thinks we are related. She tells me that I remind her of her aunt, the model Georgia Quental.
“She had red hair,” she tells me. “She was a free spirit like you…”
I don’t know Benita well but she is very fond of me and often wants to go out for tea. Sometimes I run into her as I am leaving the library. The last time I saw her, she greeted me, full of enthusiasm: “Anna, my darling! How was Brazil?”
I have never been to Brazil.
Benita grew up in Rio but attended an exclusive girls school on the eastern seaboard of the United States. She won an award for her artwork there. She says that one of her ancestors was a famous Scottish poet. She borrows his books from the library. I forget his name.
Sometimes she asks me: “Anna, don’t you miss South America?” as if I had left there recently
I have not been there since I was five. I missed it a lot as a child and well into adulthood. I still drink mate.
The last time I saw Benita, she told me she had just been in Greece.
“Ahhh, my darling,” she said. “You must go there. It is absolutely beautiful. I was on an island.”
“Did you go with your daughters?” I asked.
Two of her daughters live in Manhattan. They are very beautiful blondes and have worked as models. One designs jewelry and one is divorced from the heir to Budweiser. I am never sure which is which…
“Of course my dear,” Benita replied. “We were the guests of the designer, my daughter’s friend. What a gorgeous place he has, but you have to take a boat to get there. We were constantly on boats. It was beautiful. We went to Leonard Cohen’s house. He had a house on the same island. His grandchildren are living there now.”
Benita wants me to visit Rio with her. I tell her I can’t go yet, because my health is still a bit delicate. Which it is.
“You need,” she told me, “to take Palo Santo (a herb) and Ayahuasca ( a powerful hallucinogenic).”
We don’t have to go to Brazil to get Ayahuasca. There are people in North Vancouver doing it in their basements.
Two years ago I ran into Benita after I had been at a small protest against Donald Trump. There were only twelve protesters. The others were all Mexican. It was after Trump had made his comment about Mexicans being rapists.
I thought Benita would be glad I had been standing up for Latin Americans, so I told her: “I protested against Donald Trump.”
She looked a bit confused. “Why?” she asked. “What did he do?”
I told her about his comments.
“That’s strange,” she said, looking puzzled. “He is always very nice to my daughters. He always pays for their ski trips to Vermont when they go with his daughter.”
Strange things are happening.