The Last Time I Saw Anais Nin Alive
The last time I saw Anais was Saturday December 11, 1976, the day after I'd given a ninety-minute talk and slide presentation about my private press. Deena Metzger, the director then of the Writing Program of Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles, had invited me to appear on the December program coordinated by her and funded by a grant from the Literature Division of the National Endowment for the Arts, "In the Name of All Women." Deena drove my friend and me up into the hills to meet Anais Nin and Rupert Pole. I felt as though we were headed to a golden temple.
Her house was an Eric Wright design, described in her Diary (1955-1966) and the spaciousness of it struck me immediately. A huge glass window-door opened onto a small pool. I noted a little goldfish mobile I'd sent with Barry Donald Jones, a gift which was dangling with other wind chimes. There was one clear glass Pisces fish that reflected the sunlight. Anais was lying in a chaise lounge. In spite of her frailty and extreme thinness because of the cancer and the myriad medical treatments, she was radiant in a flesh-toned Arabian dress that matched Rupert's own caftan. A red bow was in her golden hair to match bright lips. This beautiful woman who would have been seventy-four on her next birthday didn't look for a minute her age.
Her translucent Oriental complexion and sparkling eyes beamed like a young girl's. She held my hand and called me "her daughter," told me I "was just a girl the first time she met me" and that "now you've grown up and become a woman" I held back my tears through that brief hour as we sipped champagne and Anais reminisced, reminding us of Isak Dinesen's penchant for oysters and champagne. She marveled that a nurse at her hospital had never heard of D. H. Lawrence, motioned to John Boyce's drawings for Aphrodisiac hanging on her wall, and then nonchalantly pointed to the cover of her own erotica soon to be released as Delta of Venus.
Rupert then asked us to wait outside at the teahouse he was having built aws a special birthday present for Anais while he lifted her into his arms and carried her back to bed…I was glad when Anais said in her tiny French voice, "Some people tire me out, but not you. Not you."…
Then she called for Deena and I heard her ask, "Am I dying?"
Deena later told us in the car that she couldn't tell her, "Yes." I believe we knew why. Perhaps Anais's own words best describe Deena's answer, "No."
…"Music pours freely through me, the music by which I know the extent of my receptivity and response…I am blessed with continuous aliveness…" (same Diary)
by Rochelle Lynn Holt
amulet I wear her name—
Rochelle Lynn Holt