1. Conference

The thought that, during her professional life, she had never made a business trip abroad, and her wife, her wedded wife, had traveled all over the world, made that Keke Juchtleer, a greying but cheerful 47-year old, born, raised and, as a matter of fact, still living on the idyllic Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam, made up a conference for herself in New York City that she had to go to. Jalana, who had never stayed behind before and, perhaps because of this, was looking forward to it, had not asked any questions about this conference, what it was about, why now, whether it was worth it at all, how she knew about it, and so forth, but in case she would ask those questions, Keke had her answers ready. It was The Future of Literary Criticism, hosted by The New York Review of Books, that Keke, being a literary critic herself, albeit of a struggling weekly, simply had to attend. Her work, if not her life, depended on it. Jalana, a 33-year old camera woman who did not have time to read, took her ambitious lover to the airport in her worn out Peugeot. They kissed on the asphalt of the temporary parking area near the entrance of the airport. After days of depressing rain, the sun was shining again. 'Prepare yourself,' Keke whispered in Jalana's ears. 'I might be another person when I get back.'

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