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1- Introduction, 1952-
The takeoff, the start of things - that's what Yvonne would always have the most trouble with in all her endeavors. How difficult it was to separate herself from human inertia, from the death of the spirit, as she would, in more critical-language-filled moments, reveal and resent. It was as though roots known and unknown negated her liftoff, as though everything, family, personal history, known tunes, would wage an all-out war - dysentery-filled trenches and poison gas, old Berthas and bayonets - to keep her in place and unchanged but for the effects of age, which were always on the cards and guaranteed and allowed to everyone and everything living.
"Why would an amazingly beautiful girl like you be playing with kites?" some people were asking. "This is like going to the university, even worse, in, say, engineering. Girls like you don't need and don't do things like these, not if their heads are properly screwed on and their eyes are wide open. For centuries, life comes to them carried on a golden plate and, in much finer terms, awash in more resonant music and glorious wines, without all this groping around and wasting of time. And, by the way, now that we're here - your ballet also is too much work. Galley work. But at least it keeps you trim and shapely."
Kites, kites, kites.
Sometimes, that was all Yvonne wanted around her. When she looked at her life, both as in a movie of the past and as in a glass bowl showing the future, time past was an archipelago of islands, strewn everywhere, while the present and the future showed up as a constant, uninterrupted, massive wall in front of her, still to come and be overcome. On each of these islands of the past, she had, at one time or another, in timidity or in daring, raised a cerf-volant of experience, just to feel and sound off, fathom, the pull or the balking of Father Time, to find out how his winds were blowing at that particular instant, with or against her, or just to irritate him, as children sometimes do to their grandparents.
Many times, those were real kites she would fly, real cerf-volants - the French name seemed to her so beautiful, suggestive of wonderful and strange happenings, in which, she would say so later, as in Chagall, things and people were equally allowed, willing, and purpose-filled to fly in the sky, vertically, horizontally, upside down, the direction didn't really matter, once the take off had somehow been miraculously achieved.
Of the sky, there were hallways and highways, labyrinths and hide-and-seek corners, tunnels and fountains, that her kites would try to navigate and to float, to penetrate and to skim over, to diffuse and to indiscreetly peek through.
The pull on the string, its nervousness and sheer zip, the direction of the yanking, its rhythm, would tell her the story of advancement her messengers were supposed to report back to her from the domain of wind and light, the domain of what people, indiscriminately to her, called weather. And, many times, she took this message and carried it over to her day-to-day messy tangle of facts, with the hope and sometime the bare conviction that some sense detected in far-away, high nature could be read, would translate, as premonitions of the travails, intrigue and yellowness, energy and lassitude, high purpose and don't-give-a-damnness of the living around her.
She didn't go far enough with this so as to report this serious hobby of hers, such messages and their possible readings, to others around her, as she confidently knew, even as a child, that they wouldn't understand her, but instead they'd even expose her to their and others' put-downs. And a sect, as some would perhaps have called it, she didn't want to establish, though enough of such doings were contemporarily reported as having success, and what is meant here by it is first and foremost financial success, in the world at large. Only her father really knew about it all, as he had been at the source of it.
Then, there was another source for her, a source of felt judgments, of thinking at its most intuitive and irrationally emotional, which came forth from deep within, from the territory for dreams and the edge of the consciousness, the awareness of the domain. There, classified as in a hidden library, there, close to her touch, sat large books from the time of incunabula on huge oak shelves bent under their weight, books to be read with the inner eyes in the secret of sleep and dreams.
The keys to the domain were under her bed cushions, close to the reach of her hands but invisible, on one condition only, to want it, the opening. On going to bed, it wasn't seldom that she launched inner kites and balloons to have the domain explored for her during her detachment and floating of dreaming, just as she was doing during days and hours spent in the outdoors in the company of the sky, clouds and winds. It was as though means and purposes fit for the air outside were equally capable to deal with this depth within; it was as though combinations were still in order in order to bring to fruition those sharp essences required for the day-to-day experience of a girl in wonder of the world.
The bridge in all this multi-layered architecture of her own living and thinking she always looked at with the amazement of the newcomer, of one of the novitiates, was what the fresh, blood-dropping flesh of reality brought to her in sharp shots of the sweet, the sour, the happy, the loneliness, the pungent taste of and in the social world, the taste of school, the taste and with it the high excitement of ballet, her highest obsession, the clamoring words of the parents in agitation about her, and last, but somehow not least, the men in her life, the roses and the pains they gave her in indiscriminate attention or awful neglect.
This bridge, it seemed to her, was the whole purpose of her presence about in the world, so it was there, in crossing it, from one level to another, in being stationed temporarily on it between rushes of motion, of plain living, that she took it in, the life, where everything came together, premonitions and ideas, perceptions lost and revived by dreams, the thoughts that moved her along toward her own horizon.