Illiana, the rider


palomaIlliana wanted to be an American girl – she was obsessed with everything starred and spangled, be it Apple Pie, big block Chevy engines, or telling the cops to go fuck themselves. Truth be told, Illiana was as French as melted Nutella on a late night crepe. As her story goes, she was placed in a boarding school in Santa Barbara, her father the French ambassador from Cannes to Beverly Hills. Apparently Beverly Hills and Cannes are sister cities, a partnership established in the 60’s intended to keep the aristocracy on the payroll while they vacationed– year round.

Illiana, the god daughter of French New Wave star director Francois Truffaut, had a penchant for trouble. Her parents had hoped that the boarding school in Santa Barbara would instill discipline and a sense of responsibility in her. Instead it made her more rebellious. It also instilled in her a deep love of horses. One night, she managed to break into the headmaster’s stable and steal his prized Arabian, which she rode up the entire Pacific Coast until reaching a deserted little landing on the Deschutes river.

That afternoon, I awoke to the sound of the Arabian outside my cabin.  I could tell it was an Arabian from the way it exhaled loudly. Illiana was butt naked, bathing in my back yard.  I cooked some fresh eggs and smoked some trout I had caught that dawn.  I left the plate for her and ducked back into the cabin.  She knocked on my door and offered me a joint of the best grass I’ve had to this day. That summer, I was caught in a time warp of endless cooking, melting sunsets, and incredible lovemaking.  While I caught our dinner in the river, Illiana foraged vegetables from the surrounding forest for our nightly feast.  All the while she cared for the Arabian like it was her kid.

Illiana started painting, and I went into town to get her some materials.  When I returned, the Arabian was gone. So was Illiana and all her belongings.  I received a letter a post card a month later from a place called St. Tropez, Illiana sent her regards.  She had been found by her parents and sent back to France where she would be made to work for a major fashion house as a designer.  She hated wearing clothes.  Go figure.

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