PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Monday, August 9
Holding a big stack of newspapers in her arms, Kate gave me a massive hug of congratulations as I walked into the Nassau arrivals hall.
She'd only just flown in herself, and had collected as many papers as she could that reported on the race - and the accident. I'd gotten worldwide coverage - sort of - for sparing Jim Clark on Saturday, and it was just as thrilling to see GB listed in the top ten finishers.
Changing gears from high life to ultimate relaxation on the flight to Paradise Island, I asked about her mother, and Kate said she was trying to come to terms with the situation.
Our four-room bungalow had a private beach where we spent the late afternoon unwinding a little from the events of the weekend, the most serious thing we did, being to read through the endless menu and select the dinner that would be brought to us.
After the feast we sat on the sofa with ancient brandy, and Kate said I might have misunderstood her reasons for wanting to buy my house - which were the same as mine - to raise funds for the racing partnership.
It wasn't to live in, but on the other hand …. she paused, and then went on firmly, if what we had to keep hoping for happened, were it not sold to a stranger, it would remain there for me - my books and all the other things still in it.
Since I'd simply given her the house, and had already moved most personal things to my grandmother's, she wanted to put the sales price into an account for me, and felt the best thing would be to rent it out and produce some income.
This was a painful topic. I knew the emotional ties I had to possessions were still not completely severed. That had been clear when I sold the Sea Farm and Abel Leader. Contemplating why there was no reason not to do so was too close to exposing that I wasn't merely taking a grand leave of absence.
But Katie was determined to prove she wasn't going to be an emotional liability on this trip, next launching into a practical approach to my art collection. A good burglar alarm was not enough, and she'd been horrified at the prospect of keys to the house being handed out to agents when I'd put it on sale.
Informing me that the locks had been changed and improved, she said that she'd been looking into possibilities, and found several galleries who would pay to display my pictures, putting them in a much safer environment.
I questioned whether there was anything that valuable, and Katie rolled her eyes, quoting current prices for just a few, pointing out that almost all were important investments, though I'd just bought them to live with.
But she said that the Genevieve Royales were something that I should consider selling fairly soon. The price of her work was skyrocketing, and Kate felt certain that it was a bubble, and now was the time. When she mentioned the figure I'd get for all six, my first thought was that they'd finance my share of the team for the year.
Kate then folded her hands, stating she was ready for the discussion we'd been putting off. I replied she would have made a good lawyer, and Kate said she knew this was my ultimate compliment.
A kiss proved it wasn't, but she drew away, repeating what I'd said on the plane, that we needed to finally express all the thoughts and feelings we'd been holding back since our reunion at the clinic.
We started at the beginning with the hardest part - my unexplained departure from San Francisco in a state of madness, and my naïve notion that I'd just be gone forever, sparing Kate the diagnosis I couldn't bring myself to share with her.
There was no way I could have remained 15 minutes in her company without revealing it - injecting her with the same insidious and slow-acting poison that would destroy Katie too, a knowledge that would mean I'd see my death every time I looked into her eyes.
She regarded me seriously for a long moment, then said that she'd had enough therapy in the last four months to insure that I would not have any unpleasant experiences looking into her eyes, and would save all the painful glances for moments when I wasn't around.
We were perilously close now to the emotions which had unleashed that dam burst of tears neither of us had been able to shed until that first afternoon at the clinic, and we began to express thoughts that had been held back from each and every meeting since our reunion - agonizing to voice and listen to, impossible to reiterate in this journal.
At the end, when we were too drained to say more, Kate whispered, “now we'll go back to pretending,” poured me a brandy, and slipped away to take a bath.
Tuesday, August 10
Back to real life with the promised call to Gene Mason. He was deeply interested in the recent tests, and spoke with intensity about the new information they provided.
“Oh Paul, if I could only sit down with you and elaborate on all this,” he said passionately. Among the findings was the fact that I'd picked up something - probably in New Guinea, but Mason said that it was dormant, and I might live to be 80, and never be affected by it.
He knows how I feel, that I've even made a point of not remembering the name of this disease called after the professor with so many w's, k's and z's all strung together.
I tried to move him along to the conclusions the experts came up with, and he repeated the same thing he had said at DiMaggio's. No sign of advancement. No change in prognosis.
Went for a long beach walk alone, but there were honeymoon couples everywhere, so I returned to the bungalow. Kate asked me if I wanted to be on my own, and then went out for a swim.
When she came back, I pointed out how overbearing this thing could be, and how the call demonstrated just why I had to get away and be by myself.
Kate nodded, but said nothing, then turned my truth to a lie with an embrace that did make a difference. Maybe I was wrong that this was something I could do all alone. Whatever the case, I just felt grateful that she was with me here and now.
En route to Paris
Wednesday, August 11
We eased back into “pretending,” and with so many unsayable words now spoken, the gulf that had developed between us has gone, and I began to treasure Katie's closeness even more than before.
We left the Bahamas with reluctance, always the way to say goodbye to an experience. It had been everything we both needed - open conversation and relaxation.
Thursday, August 12
We dozed enough on the flight to Paris that it could be called a night's sleep, but remembering how comfortable the beds were at the Ritz, I looked forward to a night on the ground.
The Louvre with Kate was exhilarating. I remember what a thrill it had been to wander its halls as a student, but she made it feel like the place belonged to us.
We spent hours there, but I made sure there was time to go into Balmain where I bought Kate an elegant black evening gown to be sent on to San Francisco. And for dinner and to take along on the trip, something in red. I was fascinated how all the staff clustered around Kate like a VIP.
The night at Maxim's was one we will never forget. That the maitre d' was a motor racing fan netted us one of the best tables in the house. I couldn't believe it, he knew all about the race in Rio and my almost-run in with Jim Clark. And his mixture of familiarity and deference to Kate was quite amazing.
Friday , August 13
As planned, we devoted most of today to museums, but I also took Kate to June's apartment to show her my little suite. After an early dinner at a tiny bistro Katie frequented when a student in Paris, we got a flight to Madrid.
En route to the Seyshelles
Saturday, August 14
We wore our feet down with morning and afternoon visits to The Prado with lunch and a siesta in between at the Ritz, capped off by a fabulous meal and the overnight flight to the Indian Ocean.
Katie was so sweet, never a murmur about the schedule, and the same good company as always, despite what was in the back - and sometimes in the front - of our minds. But we were travelling too fast for thoughts to surface.
Sunday - Monday, August 15 - 16
The sea, the sky, the air! Both of us agreed on landing at Aldabra that we should have come here directly. Or maybe even live here. It was the same kind of instant feeling of kinship I had arriving in Switzerland.
Two glorious days of relaxation and diving in phenomenally rich and “loving” waters. That's just what they felt like. How could I have gone so many years without taking a vacation? And Kate. a comfort for my soul. How could I have imagined life without her?
Tuesday, August 17
The last day of our planned program. We tore ourselves away from the Seychelles, and arrived on Zanzibar where Kate has friends from college. It would have been nice to have the time just for ourselves.
Everything has gone so beautifully that I was ready to spring my surprise, and presented her with an envelope containing two tickets to India - the Taj Mahal and a houseboat at Srinigar, certain she'd be thrilled.
But Kate's response was a shock. She said the pace we'd been keeping - two nights spent in planes in a week - was beyond what her recovering psyche could manage, and revealed she'd started taking the tablets Dr. Owen had given her for an emergency.
As Katie had vowed to do at the beginning, she had disguised any such negative feelings and tensions completely. The time we had together was as if nothing bad had ever entered our lives.
Though quick to assert that these were only side effects, and how deeply she'd cherished these days, even if we slowed down, a kind of domesticity on the road couldn't be what I needed.
In the same way I used to go sailing on my own or take up the Abel Leader to neutralize the pressures of work, she acknowledged that, against the extraordinary circumstances I now had to deal with, to maintain my sanity, I needed to keep on the move, meet new people, and be on my own.
She was surely referring to the remark I'd made that first night in the Bahamas, but I told her that when I looked into her eyes, all I saw was life.
I wanted this time together to be much longer, maybe even make it an ongoing arrangement when she could, but even though our last day was as warm as any, I couldn't help wondering if I were losing her.
Nairobi / Masai Safari Park
Wednesday, August 18
Hoping to have a few more hours together, I suggested Kate might take a later flight and come along on my mission for Gene Mason to the Masai Safari Club. The troubled expression on her face was compounded by a response that she was distressed by people who travelled around the world to go killing.
So I saw her off for her flight back to the US, and am now waiting for my taxi to take me to the Club. Though there wasn't a moment that we weren't close as ever, I can't help but sense there's something wrong, and blame myself.
What self-destructive force within me chose such a difficult program for our trip, and is there also a sadistic streak in my character that put Kate through that punishing schedule with two overnight flights in ten days? On my own I had never moved at that speed.
She's become convinced that my new lifestyle is necessary to maintain sanity, but I know that no matter what I do to try and preserve a sense of balance, my mind is severely affected.
I know Gene Mason explained that the earliest signs of the disease were psychological, but what's come on me has turned my psyche around
… The erratic behavior and bizarre nightmares … the sound judgment I always credited myself with now so often flawed or even abandoned … the rise of an over-quick temper, completely unlike the famously Cool Paul Bryan who defied his Sicilian blood … and the danger I keep putting myself in. Is it thrill seeking, a desire for instantaneous death or simply irrational?
I think Kate was wrong. Perhaps it is living on my own that has been the cause of some of these problems. Maybe I have a tendency to lie to myself about why I'm doing things, to convince myself that I've made the right choices.
A loud woman was posing with two elephant tusks when I arrived at the Safari Club. At that moment I was grateful Kate hadn't come along.
Approached Mark Foster with Dr. Mason's letter, and though aware that I was a patient too, he was angered by the breech of confidentiality, and pretty much told me to mind my own business, then relented, asking me to stay for dinner and meet his daughter.
Think we were both glad of that, and so was Julie, a lovely girl, full of vitality and genuineness. He hasn't told her about the diagnosis.
I spent a good part of the evening in her most charming company, and after we said good night, Mark invited me to go on safari with them tomorrow. What a unique opportunity. I couldn't help but accept instantly.
continued in next column (after pictures)