Images | Catrinel Menghia by Michel Perez for Aubade, shared on Bambi Magazine #6.
It amazes me how a single set of images can have such high impact on my psyche, communicating visually what is difficult to explain in words. I’ve written widely on my tremendous love of Europe and especially France and Italy.
The expression ‘I love you’ but I’m not ‘in love with you’ doesn’t explain my thoughts about the two countries. I’m in love with both Italy and France, but it’s only in Italy that I kiss the ground, when my plane lands. It’s the Italians who taught me how to love passionately and without guilt.
Some people were stunned a few months ago when Monica Bellucci told Vanity Fair Italia that if her husband Vincent Cassel was away for several months, she would expect him to have a sexual affair.
Passion vs Loyalty
‘Passion you can feel for the worst man you ever met.
But that has nothing to do with a deeper partnership. In such a one, passion stays, but more important is confidence, respect, knowing a man is not just loyal in a sex way, but that they will be there for you. That is more important than just fidelity.’
Not all men think so one-dimensionally, employing Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s or Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Me Tarzan/You Jane’ approach to gender relations.
Successful, smart men can take female sexuality and their woman’s need for sexual fulfillment very seriously. I was the blessed recipient of such unconventional thinking in my own long-term relationship in Europe.
The Italians taught me that jealousy is not inevitable, that smart lovers create arrangements that work for both parties and humans can thrive responsibly in nontraditional arrangements. Truly creative people bring innovation to their personal lives as well as business.
Writing recently about the deplorable behavior of a French bad boy who misrepresented his expectations of me in Paris, these wonderful images of Catrinel Menghia by Michel Perez for Bambi Magazine #6 and compliments of French lingerie brand Aubade remind me of the opposite man.
A top businessman in Europe, he was always late for dinner and forever leaving for Tokyo or Brazil at a moment’s notice, even though we coordinated our schedules all through Europe. His attitude was ‘if I don’t do something creative, Anne, I will lose you.’ His solution was the most unorthodox situation of my life, one I thrived in for five wonderful years.
Stability vs Happiness
Much to our mutual pain, I left that relationship for a traditional one in America. Unable to comprehend how much I was flourishing in this high-flying but so intimate and loving unorthodox relationship, I chose the safe route. Although the relationship lasted 10 years, it was plagued with guilt, unfounded accusations, jealousy and a self-centeredness that had no focus on me.
I had the security of that monogamous, traditional, we bought a house together, I adored his kids and they me experience and not for the first time either. But it was the Italian who understood what makes me tick, who created a breathtaking scenario that required me to take the path not so often chosen.
The intimacy of these images and their lack of focus on baubles, expensive restaurants, private jets and ‘things’ is what grabs my heart strings this morning. The moments I treasure the most about my Italian have nothing to do with his high-flying lifestyle.
What glued us together was this kind of intimacy — mixed with a lot of trust and creative organization on his part.
Knowing who we are and what we want out of life — versus who we are supposed to be as women — is step one to making ourselves better people. That route inevitably radiates a positive goodness in the lives of all around us when it reflects not a momentary impulse or night of passion, but a concrete understanding that not all of us are supposed to travel on the same life path. I’ve always sensed that so many Europeans and South Americans know this better than we Americans do.
Living la dolce vita isn’t always the scenario presented on Oprah or Sex in the City. There are times in life when we really must get out of our own way, in order to find what we seek with such longing and determination. Anne