Follow the progression part 3

...while the concert lasted, at those moments when I wasn't paying attention to the music, I darted what I thought were surreptitious looks at him. It was somewhat discombobulating to make the mental leap between a fictitious character on a television series and the flesh and blood person that was seated next to me. I had met famous people before. In my father's line of work I puffed on a cigar at the age of 12 with an ousted Bolivian President who patted my back when I choked, and told me that was the reason one should never smoke. I had spied an exiled Shah of Iran morose and sick as he sat wheelchair-bound so far away from the land he and his family had dynastically ruled. I had shaken hands with two sitting US Presidents and learned that adults, for the most part, tended to give children with something interesting to say the time of day even as I took shameful advantage of that knowledge. Unlike most other kids, I had grown up with an opportunity to learn that well-known people act just like not well-known people do. Everybody looks bad at one time or another and everyone eats, sleeps and poops no matter the mantle of fame they wear in the outside world and yet, in spite of this, I had never in my life been star struck. Initially, I kept on wanting to see the other side of his profile so I could spy the Chakotay tattoo. Can you believe that?

Somewhere in the time it took for the concert to end though, I stopped thinking of him that way. I realized that to cause any impression, some impression, hopefully a good impression, I would have to learn him for who he was and not for whom he played.

After the final applause and encore, we went to the restaurant. My memory does not tell me any more whether we walked or took a taxi there but next thing I remember, we were being seated by a waiter in a very nice but not over the top restaurant. It was kind of small and cosy and was quite obviously a better than average eating establishment. I felt flattered that he had taken me there.

We ordered dinner. I cannot remember either what we ate but I do know that we talked a lot. More of Napoleon, more about his family. I listened as I had been taught to do. He talked with an open reservedness. Does this make sense? He was trying to tell me things but he seemed to be weighing beforehand what to say and how to say it. I can understand this. I could be anybody. He was somebody. To encourage him I told him more of myself.

Somewhere in the night, we became less guarded with each other and went onto discuss more diverse topics. Amongst them, we spoke of children with learning disabilities. Don't ask me how specifically we got there but suffice it to say that once we did, he asked me a pointed question. He said, what would you do if you ever found out you were carrying a child with Down's syndrome? In the haziness of a moment long gone, I remember answering that perhaps, if told about the disability in time, I might not carry the child to term.

Many years later, after becoming the person I am now but still wasn't then, I can tell you that I wish I had thought to answer differently. It doesn't really matter any more for what it's worth to my current life but If I could, I would add this moment in time to my ever increasing do-over list. And this is why: In the ignorance of non-motherhood, of the process and joy of watching my belly swell with the seed of life, I do not believe I could answer the same in this, my present time.

Please don't jump to the conclusion that I am a pro-lifer as pro-lifers are understood to be. I believe that I personally could not go through with a pregnancy termination but that doesn't mean that I do not believe in a woman's right to choose. I think of myself as a pro-choicer for life but pro-choice nonetheless. As pertained to me in that one specific moment with Mr. Beltran, I regret the answer because the tenor of our conversation changed after that. We talked of other things but the tenuous connection we'd initially established, fizzled and died I think. Around midnight (like Cinderella), I told him I had to leave. The choir had hired a bus to transport them to Nancy and we were all supposed to leave early the next morning. I would be tired enough as it was that I did not wish to stay longer. He seemed regretful, but that might be my romantic head replaying the scene differently. Outside he hailed a cab for me and like the perfect gentleman he had been all evening, he handed me into it and kissed me chastely on the cheek while he told me goodbye. That was the last I ever saw of him in person.

A day later, while in Nancy, I walked into a Virgin Music store and without meaning to, I headed straight to the Classical music section. In my passable French I asked an attendant to find me the EMI recordings of Pablo Casals' Bach Cello Concertos and now, if you have read my "A Little Bit About Me" post prior to starting on this one, you finally know what triggered my memory into this long, three day narrative I've been regaling you with. During dinner he had confessed to never having heard them. The store had just the one CD set. Several others with Rostropovich and Yo-Yo Ma, but only the one Casals. I purchased it on the spot, wrote a note, and posted it at the first post office I saw addressed via next-day courier to a Mr. Robert Beltran at the Royal Monceau, Paris.

Because I still had his phone number, I called his hotel the next day to make sure that the package had arrived and to my surprise, I was connected to Robert who gratifyingly seemed happy to hear my voice while he thanked me for my gift. He then asked me whether I had returned to Paris. I said no, I was still in Nancy and would remain there for the next few days. He would be leaving soon for other European parts he told me and he expressed regret that we would not get an opportunity to see each other again. We did the polite closing of the conversation chit chat, wished each other well and I promised to continue watching him on Voyager. That was the last time I ever spoke to him.

That's it. Kind of anti-climactic the whole ending I know, but anything else was simply not meant to be. That's not to say that I got nothing of value out of the whole experience. On the contrary. For one night, in Paris no less, I went to a concert and dinner with Robert Beltran the person, not the actor. And, I lived on to have this lovely, wistful memory of my encounter with him. He was something else alright. I hope that should he still have the Casals, that every time he listens to it he would spare a thought for me. But that's just because I am a romantic, as well as a gypsy, at heart.

And now, to assuage my husband's slightly wounded ego after he read the first initial post of this story. Yes honey. I know we have had romantic nights together, in Paris no less and in even more romantic places than Paris. I know and treasure each and every one. The mementos of those places where you and I have had our own moments I know exactly where I keep. As opposed to others. Remember Aqua Pazza? I still have the card. You might not be Chakotay love, you are definitely not Robert Beltran. You are you, wonderful in every way and, I wouldn't trade you for anyone or anything. Mine to love with all my heart and might. This, is just a memory. You are not. Thank God for that.

Goodbye everyone. Until the next post.

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