Another in a series celebrating Dana Schechter's life.
Dana and I had reconnected after Florence's memorial. During visits over tea and apple pie, she began reading me her stories. There was a daring and a fearlessness to what she was willing to put to the page and a willingness to walk her pen down dark sentences.
Originally posted February 27, 2011
The Scent of Sandelwood
New work from Dana!
Whenever I travel to Europe, I feel I am walking in the footsteps of former inhabitants who lived in ancient towns before they became cities. The old ghettos, for example, are steeped in history and stimulate my imagination. I seem to be searching for my previous life in another century, a kind of deja vue moment. When George and I arrived in Seville, Spain, I found it.
We were directed to an old quarter, which formerly housed the ghetto where all of Seville’s Jews were once confined. Street names were ghetto names. But the ghetto itself had vanished. All that remains is a Kasbah-like warren of little winding streets and cul-de-sacs twisting and turning and literally swallowing us up in its labyrinth.
As night fell we began to feel ill at ease. There were fewer and finally no one on the dimly lighted streets. I may have recognized where I once had lived in another time, but now felt trapped in a time warp. I couldn’t recall the area outside of the ghetto, which was dangerous. After curfew, one risked arrest.
We walked by an open patio that seemed to beckon us in. Through the entrance gate sat a large brightly illuminated sofa, empty but waiting. For us? We whispered to each other “Don’t go in there."
Where was its light coming from? Was this some kind of entrapment?
We lingered on the sidewalk wondering at the sofa’s elegant invitation. I thought we should continue up the street. George noticed the seductive aroma of sandalwood, and refused to move.
We bickered for a few moments until we heard the rustling of a taffeta skirt. Upon turning our attention back to the sofa we were surprised to see a Matisse-like odalisque wearing that taffeta skirt. Aside from multi-colored glass necklaces she was utterly bare on top. Her presence explained the purposed of the sofa.
I knew from George’s glistening eyes what he was thinking. And it was obvious what he was feeling.
So, what the hell.
Yes, I walked on and somehow found an exit in the general direction of our hotel. Eventually, George did the same.
Back home, whenever I saw that glisten in George’s eyes, I'd put on my false eyelashes and a splash of sandalwood.
Sunday Memories of the Best Writer I've Ever Known