The Frozen Immigrant - Chapter 5

Artwork by Peter Hollard - Maleny (

My first sexual experience came in the last week of the summer holidays just before I commenced my last year of high school education in Lausanne. My parents were both away at a university conference in Brussels. They had become used to Gisela and I hanging out together and in their reserved way were quite fond of her. Gisela was a social chameleon. She could turn the appropriate charm and dialogue on like a South American hooker plying her trade in Zurich. Dad thought her an intellectual giant and challenged me to be as interested in the Swiss political system as Gisela was. Little did he know she got most of her information from her uni lovers groping diatribes and ranting they attempted to penetrate her with in between the pot-fueled liaisons and pizza. So Gisela and I were given free rein in my parent’s Ouchy apartment for a week on the condition we fed the Lenin the cat twice daily and cleaned his litter tray every other day.
It was the first time I’d totally felt at peace in my own home. For once there was a complete freedom and a lack of interrogation every time I passed from my bedroom to the kitchen. It was how I imagined life could be. Thoughts could pass in and out of my fleshy brain and I could blurt out ideas to Gisela, while trashing the the Bank and Olufson with my Bruce Springsteen and U2 faves and Gisela’s obsession with Pink Floyd’s more obscure phases. And my good friend Gisela reveled in the sense of space, taping broadsheets of butcher’s paper across the floor and filling the white spaces with contorted constructions of flesh that could not even find a dark tunnel in my imagination. 
It was an awesome week. She encouraged me to explore what it meant to be truly me.
‘Okay Claudee darling, paint this into that beautiful, brilliant mind. You’ve just finished your degree in fine arts at The Sorbonne. You and your musician, Bono look alike lover are living on the second floor in one of those sex infested eighteenth century apartments overlooking Montmartre and you have a week to complete three new pieces for the Paris Avante-garde Art Exhibition. Show me what you can do girl.’ And she would suck on a cigarette and smile daydreams at me, goading me to compete in a playing field where there were no rules and definitely no boundaries.
I knew what Gisela was trying to do. I drew and painted from a sense of safety. My desire to get to art school with my parent’s consent tended to sub-consciously over rule my creative ambition. If I put onto  canvas what was really in my mind my parents would have me in counseling the same day. They tolerated my artistic expression on the basis of their conservative interpretation, with the mindset that no matter what I did at school I would be finally persuaded to do real world subjects when I grew up and went to a proper university. Their blindness overlooked the dark mass of desire that was hidden in the mountains and clouds and sailing boats where I secretly and silently fucked Bono while The  Boss sang ‘The River’, with a 6B pencil wrapped tightly in one hand and my fanny in the other. Sex was ever on my mind but there was no way I was going to screw sweaty, bullshitting, uni junkies just to produce art and orgasma. I was happy for Gisela to do that. And equally happy for her to share her oral and arty adventures with me. I had made up my mind when I was fourteen that I was saving what I had in my knickers for someone special. 
‘Your zen garden art days are behind you my beautiful Claudee. What I want you to produce now is for your and my eyes only. So do your best to shock and delight me. You know I can take it, don’t cha baby-y-y-y.’ She would chide me with her black-ringlet fringe bouncing to the sound waves of laughter above the high arch of those always so perfect eye brows and liner. 
Gisela was the equivalent of ten girlfriends. She had more than enough personalities to share around and whatever was happening in her outside world she could manage to tune the dial on the inside. Outrageous, smart, funny, quirky, sexy. There were lots of ways to describe her. Talented for sure and trustworthy always. I had an inner sense that it was okay to be me while Gise was close by, even if I didn’t share that real inside me with her. She always knew there was more to me than came out of my mouth.
‘The boys up at la Borde reckon it’s you quiet ones that are the real ravers. Specially you redheads Claudee.’ I could see she wasn’t even looking at me as she pushed a smudge mark into an oversized nipple. ‘What you say about that Claudee?’
But I was too busy focusing on the outline in my head, transferring it onto black art paper, an image in white pastel of a muscled, distorted, male torso, balancing a semi-naked cheerleader type, redheaded woman on his forehead, while he sang into an oversized microphone. 
‘Oohhh...Yeesss. That’s more like it Claudee. I love it. You and Bono. Now your secrets out.’
‘How did you know it was Bono?’ I questioned her with my purest possible look.
‘The size of the microphone.’ she laughed. ‘Come on Claudee it’s getting hot in here. Let’s catch a bus down to Lutry for a swim.
We jumped the Metro from Ouchy to the Flon then walked up the steps to St Francois. There was a seven minute wait for the bus and we filled in the time reading the free newspapers in the bus shelter. Not actually reading them. More looking at the celebrity pictures while Gisela bagged them by making up stories about their boyfriends or girlfriends and what they would they really looked like when they woke up in the morning. 
‘These women have no idea how to be women Claudee. You and me will never be like them. We’ll both be famous, but we’ll never have to loose who we are and put up with this gossip column shit to fill the vacuum.’
‘Or our fannies.’ She whispered under her hand. ‘We’re gonna change the face of women’s art.’ 
‘Yeh. I know we will. Are you going to come to Art School in Paris with me Gise?’
‘I’ll be coming to Paris with you honey, just to keep those grubby French hands off your beautiful Swiss rear end. There’s no way I’ll be going to art school. I already know what I want to bring to life and how to do it. My inspiration comes from the streets and usually not the more recognisable ones. I just want to share the ride with you for as long as I can.’ 
The August sun covered Gisela like a sheet but failed to blind me to her beauty. I want to paint her, I thought and she smiled back at me like she had just read my mind.
Lutry old town

Lutry back street

The Lutry experience was refreshing. The lake’s water the palest of blues, blending with the hazy mountains and sky, giving the notion that all the landscape was comprised of the same atoms. We jumped screaming, feet first off the concrete diving tower, which left our bikini bottoms wedged neatly into the cheeks of our bums and Gisela’s Sophia Loren size breasts floating freestyle when we surfaced inside a mass of bubbles and laughter. There was never a chance of mine escaping from their gravity free, fixed position no matter how high the tower I jumped from. The water in the lake felt so soft that if not for the incumbent, green weed you might think you were suspended in fresh air.
After a couple of hours of sun, laughter and Rivella, we caught a train back to Gare and walked downhill from there to my home in Ouchy via the photographic museum. There was an amazing free exhibition on at the Le Musee featuring emerging photographers from all continents. Gise and I were beside ourselves. Here we found ten people not much older than we were, exploring similar territory and being paid to be part of an ongoing international exhibition for a year. It was so meaningful for us to see a world view through the lenses of like minds.
By the time we walked back into my parent’s apartment it was seven thirty. A redeeming feature of Lausanne is the long summer days. They certainly make up for the dark days of winter when you can indulge in eight weeks of summer holidays. Most years my parents and I would drive or fly to some forgotten coast along the Mediterranean, but this year they  had too much to do with all the structural changes that they were implementing at the university to position themselves for their planned student number influx over the next three years. For once I had really relished staying in Lausanne for the fun times spent with Gisela.

Lutry diving platform

Gise and me at Lutry

‘You have a shower Claudette and I’ll make us a snack.’ Gise kissed me on the cheek and winked. ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be edible.’
The warm water melted the lake scent from my skin. I borrowed some of mum’s special berry from some far flung ancient forest skin rejuvenator, then using her fluffy white soap thing covered myself in foam from neck to toe. In the mirror I looked like a winter’s snow gypsy, all wild eyed and beautiful found walking in the forest. Just at that moment of admiring my beauty in the mirror the bathroom door flung open. And in came Gisela, completely naked except for an amazing pattern on her torso and holding what looked like a bottle of chocolate ice-cream topping.
‘Here’s your supper. What do you think?’ With the kind of smile on her face that I had never seen before.
‘I love the design.‘ And after that I was lost for words and anything at all really.
‘Well, rinse off that smelly stuff and I’ll give you your own special piece of Gisela body art.’
I still didn’t know what to say but in a new dream I did what she suggested. Gise climbed into the bath behind me, turned off the shower and commenced to paint. When she finished she kissed my lips until I thought I might pass out. If she hadn’t lifted her mouth from mine I may well have. But she stopped long enough for me to still my beating heart and did nothing else but hold my hands in hers. When the world stopped spinning and I understood what was happening I reached over and kissed her mouth. That very moment will always be there for me as the ringing of my liberty bell. We made love in the bath and when we were finished there was not a trace of chocolate sauce left on our bodies but plenty on our faces. 


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