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  • Only the little people pay taxes.

    --Leona Helmsley, hotel heiress, ex-convict, faux drag queen.


    When he asked the hostess, how many homes she and her husband owned. Her reply:

    We own seven estates and about three hundred houses around the world, I've never bothered to count.


    What I miss most. In winter, waking up in the middle of the night, the darkness before dawn, next to him, the sound of the rain, the wind, rattling against the window, how cold our room was, the vapors from my breath, but so warm underneath our down comforter, the wool blankets and flannel sheets, asleep, curled next to him, i could hear his breathing, the tickling of my own heart, and the rain, how it continued drumming against the window, that sense of soaring. Singing.


    In San Francisco. There are over 30,000 unoccupied homes. There are 10,000 homeless people.


    That time. When we tented together in the wilderness, the smell of wood burning, how he pointed to the stars, conjugating every constellation, the jagged shape of the mountains, the scent of pine trees, oh how i could stay there forever, in that womb of darkness, in that embrace.


    As a musician, he traveled around the world, playing the piano, entertaining billionaires in Aspen, St. Tropez, Rome, Vienna.

    One of his patrons was a scion of a European dynasty. The family profited during World War II using slave labor from concentration camps.

    Among the seven estates, the more than 300 houses, this man also owned a castle in Ireland.


    Lying in bed, I loved listening to the clapping sound of water. Showering. He sings.


    The billionaire boasted that he never paid much taxes. They established a charity for orphan girls in Kenya.

    It was a tax shelter. He saved millions for a few thousand euros in textbooks and school uniforms.


    When I was a corporate lawyer at the Big Firm. A senior partner handed me an assignment. The client was looking for ways to preserve their financial assets.

    As I was about to leave his office, the partner said: One more thing, when you write the memo, be sure to be discreet in how you word it. If this ever goes into litigation and the memo gets discovered, we don't want the Treasury department getting the wrong impression. Understand?


    I learned all about the faux foundations, the offshore bank accounts, the corporate shell games, all the tactics of evasion.


    But really. Who needs 300 houses, a castle in Ireland?

    Sometimes, on those Sunday mornings, when i awoke, with the weight of him pressed against me, skin to skin, life was so delirious, delicious, that nothing really mattered, at least in that moment, a cozy bed, a room, that was more than enough. Better than any palace. Plenty.
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