Thursday 30th September 2010: Marseillette FR.
It was cold again waking up in the Snail. We have got to start moving south where the mornings are much better and we don’t have to worry about turning the heater on. I can’t actually believe that it is the end of September already; it has certainly left a mark in places never walked upon. I have travelled far, but I still have a great deal to learn, and a great deal of things that I have learnt to practise.
The Pilot was supposed to go off for a few days flying today, but he wind has changed. It’s much stronger than originally forecasted and because he doesn’t know the terrain or the landing and take off’s too well, he has decided against it. Its one of the things I admire about him, as passionate as he is about flying, he does not throw all caution to the wind and just goes off unprepared. He is careful and methodical in his thinking, he will sit on the computer getting ‘organised’ (although not my meaning of being organised as you know!!). He will study maps and weather forecasts. He will look at previous flights from here to there. He thinks I don’t know what he has to do, but I do. Probably not to the extent of what he knows, but I know it takes time to prepare a flight. That’s why when he hurts himself it makes me feel worried. Seeing his wounds heal now from a few weeks ago, still make me wince. I hope they are the only ones he will receive.
We leave to make the hours journey back to Marseillette, stopping at McDonald’s first for the free wifi and then to a Petrol Station to finally fill the gas bottle with LPG after days of searching for both a pump and an adapter to fit the Snail.
Upon arrival, the clouds have changed and things once again are much colder. They seemed to have turn at a moments notice, and now I have to ride it out. I go and sit by the canal on a metal bench which hugs my resting place. In front of me, I see just water, before a huge boat spoils my peace, or so it had seemed. I spy the people on board and listen to their American accents. I will try and speak to them, I think to myself if they come on dry land, which they do and I do. We exchange basic histories and purposes of both our trips. Whereas they have three weeks, I have another 11 in front of me. Even with more time in front than behind, I suddenly feel that time is getting shorter and I must remember to make the most of it, just in case this is the only trip. I hope it won’t be, but the clouds can change so quickly and where once you were warm, you now feel a chilly wind. Although the hope that I cling to is that after that, there will always be the sun again.
I watch as my four new neighbours ride along the path to explore what is here. Not knowing the place too well myself, I share what knowledge I have, in the hope that they will stay awhile, and see the place. I take to my writing once more hoping to find inspiration from the people and the water, only my hands are now cold and I am desperate for the toilet. I have sat on this bench now for nearly two hours and with the cold, its all I can think about.
My American neighbours return after their exploration and decide that they are going to travel on further along the river. I chat for a little while with one of the ladies. She has a kind face and warm eyes. She talks lovingly about her life and family at home and about their trip. She asks searching questions and I volunteer them. Its funny how you can share some information with strangers, but the ones who know the most about you, you are the most guarded. Maybe it’s because they know too much from you. Maybe it’s because of a hundred and one reasons. But strangers seem to extract a plethora of information from you, some even information you had guarded from yourself.
They soon leave, after we have said our goodbyes and wished each other well for the trips. I watch a lady take a photo of me from under my glasses surreptitiously, and I wonder what that would look like – a woman writing on a bench, in front of a canal, with the cemetery behind her. I am pleased that somewhere in the future, I will play a part in the recounting of a moment in time where people met. A bit like my story: ‘Oh yes, this is…. We met them at…..they came from …’
I look at the lovers passing by hand in hand and I am happy for them. I hope that their walk is filled with love and laughter before returning to my thoughts. The clouds clear unexpectantly, which makes me turn for home. It gives me hope that the sun will eventually, with patience, come through the clouds.
I return to my friend’s house and chat to her before thinking about making dinner. I have in my mind to make Spanish omelette, or Tortilla as we call it. It hasn’t been made for a while now, and the more I think about it, the more I decide to make it. We are probably chatting for about an hour before we hear a knock at the downstairs apartment. He says that dinner is ready, and I wonder what he has made. When I climb the steps, I see a circular yellow and golden potato cake in front of me. He had made the one thing I was going to make. It was almost unbelievable, but also very real. A silent meaningful squeeze from his hand to mine, were all the words I needed to hear.
The rest of the evening played out as they did. The Pilot had his things to do on the computer, on so I spent the rest of the evening with my friend in her downstairs apartment. My friend and I are two of three. The three of friends met each other in the same place where we all lived about 20 years ago. We are all very different, we all do and say different things. But the love I have for them spans the 20 years. Whilst we were talking that evening about many, many topics and over many, many glasses of red wine and biscuits and eventually marmite on toast, we came to many conclusions and no solutions. She reminded me that people are different. When faced with a brick wall in front of them, people do different things. She said that if she had a brick wall in front of her, she would smash through it. Our other friend would create an intricate ladder system to get over it, and me? Well, I would look at it and start crying. And then I would probably either draw it, or write about it so I couldn’t understand it better. How amazingly clear is that! Now I wonder whether any of our processes are wrong? Or whether it is with a combined effort of using the combined ideas that things actually work? I shall have to ponder about this a bit more I think! The evening I had with her was just great. We both talked from the heart and it left me feeling very close to her. Two people who are miles apart in their thinking were joined by their thoughts that night. I loved it.
I went to bed listening to the regular breathing and searching for the many things I had misplaced in my life. They are now within my reach, if only I would be brave enough to extend out my hand and grasp for it.