I did not write today. Yesterday I did, and the day before that… I have noticed that I am gaining weight. This is a sign of happiness, or unhappiness, or lack of attention to detail. I have not been so heavy, without a baby in my belly, since before my pregnancies. It’s still not heavy, I suppose, by most standards. But it feels heavy to me. The bit of extra weight weighs me down, makes me less inclined to run from here to there or spring into action anywhere.
There is some heaviness on my soul, and yet I don’t know if there always was. I am too tired to read old journals, though it must all be documented there.
Today T and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. It was actually some days ago but he was away at that time. Today we ventured alone together into our favourite nearby city. Our eldest son looked after the two brothers he gets along with, and the other brother stayed at a friend’s.
The city is medieval and I always love to walk there. Some guide to buying property in France that I read, when we first arrived in the country ten years ago, said that this city lacked culture, but I heartily disagree. It has its own culture, very relaxed and intimate, full of thick tobacco wrinkles and well-dressed women. The music museum is wonderful, as is the hidden cathedral with its fountains. The servers in the cafés are efficient and expect nothing but French in return. The female proprietors are friendly and warm, the male proprietors are tolerant and jovial and always enbonpoint. There is a sense of the good life here. The men do not flirt here as they do in the countryside. None of them has tried to kiss me.
The girls are pretty. The boys are rough or smooth but never in between. Converse and high-waisted trousers are the fashion at the moment among the girls. The young girl beside us at the restaurant has a high brow, long dark hair tied back into a slim ponytail on the top of her head. She has a fine waist, only a sleeveless black tank top tucked perfectly into the belted, black high-waisted trousers; bare bronzed arms in the sun. The sun is so hot this day I think of my nose. My nose will be red without sunscreen. T sits facing the sun, his jaw clean-shaven, his shoulders square; he is handsome in his blue cotton shirt. He is reasonably content anywhere, yet somehow removed.
I am facing the wisteria that climbs alongside the stone wall of the restaurant. My nose will not be burned. The restaurant is on the corner of a square just at the bottom of a Bourbonnais castle. The castle has a bell tower which strikes a quaint little chime, such as the church towers do in Holland. It’s a small world kind of chime. Not that tune but that feeling.
I order the poisson du jour, he the entrecôte, à point. We share a 50cl pichet of rose wine. The wine is peach golden in the sun.
I ask him how he would see himself in the future, when the children are grown, when they theoretically do not urgently need us. I’m wondering if our visions will connect somehow. “I want to be a better version of myself; setting a better example.”
No that wasn’t right. I’ve remembered it wrong. There were two questions I asked. The first was a bit joking but a bit serious, because I know how stupid it is to ask this question of children; yet to ask it of adults can be fun: “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” Then he answered as above. He didn’t return the question; he never does. In my head I thought, that is a pretty good answer. What would mine be? I thought, “I want to be loved, but most especially by our children.” But he did not ask, so I did not say it aloud.
Then a reggae musician came and played one of my favourite songs near our table. I can’t think of the song now; now I am at home, and T is playing loud top 50 hits music on the stereo.
The reggae artist had an amazing method of playing his guitar, his guitar had three small percussion instruments attached to the bottom, he struck them with a stick held between his fourth and fifth fingers as he played the guitar, it was the perfect one-man reggae band, I was carried away by the music, I thought I would go sing with him but
it was so nice to sit and tap my feet in the sun.
The other patrons of the restaurant smoked and clinked and sipped and smiled and leaned across the tables towards one another. The man beside us leapt up and kissed his lady passionately on the lips. He had an earring in his right ear, the side facing me. His jaw was grizzled. His hair was rakish. His shoulders were sloped. His lady beamed. Their cigarettes burned. She was glistening in the sun. Skin bronzed like the young girl between us. Black hair also. Large tortoiseshell shades.
The reggae man’s lady came around with a beautiful, simple wooden bowl and a smile. She came to me first. I put coins in the bowl and said I loved the music. She thanked me. She confided they were making a tour du monde. They were in Amerique du Sud before, and now here. They had two small children. What a beautiful life, I thought. Perhaps that should have been our life. T playing his flute and me collecting coins. Our children happily clapping their hands in the stroller, on the sidelines.
Next I asked T where he saw himself in the future. He said he saw himself making his own beer, drinking one of those beers by a pool, near mountains, with a view of the sea.
I thought to myself, this is compatible. Before I asked him, I had silently asked myself the same question. Where did I see myself? Without rhyme or reason I had suddenly pictured myself back in Canada, on our west coast homeland, a place with tall evergreen trees, at the foot of the mountains overlooking the sea. I imagined a place with space for people. It did not have to be a lot of space, but the space must be empty enough to allow for the entrance of people. It would be a secluded place where I would be alone a lot. But sometimes there would be my favourite people there; mainly our children. Perhaps with their own people. T was not much a fan of people, but perhaps he could be, if he had time to make his own beer.
The reggae man finished his second song. I clapped and the other patrons then clapped as well. The reggae man smiled, a flash of white teeth in mahogany skin. Long black dreadlocks over a deep green shirt. He and his lady left then, with their children and the stroller. The youngest child, a tiny, tiny little girl with pale skin and brown curls like her mother, had a tantrum, screaming. She wanted to climb up to the castle. The parents smiled peacefully, strolling stoically and slowly on. She followed.
Even travelling reggae families have normal lives, with some small tantrums that attempt to break the peace. It’s a small world they are travelling.
Edit/p.s. this was the song:
And this was the reggae small-world family:
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment. Thank you for reading. ❤︎