Frehel Diaries: Because in France, Everything is Possible
Now if you make love to me in the morning, I’m useless for the rest of the day. I walk around in a sensual haze like an opium addict. You worship every nerve ending in my pelvis for three and a half hours and you best plug in the Frito IV and put on Scott Baio is 45...and Still Single because although my eyes may occasionally track you are going to have better luck getting sentient conversation from a banana. And translating a language in which I demonstrate a basic proficiency at best? No fucking way.
He chats brightly in French, and I smile and nod for as long as I can, until he finally starts asking me questions that I must answer. Nothing deep or profound-he talks about police radar and so forth as he drives me to St. Denis.
He doesn’t quite understand what it is to be with a scholar in such a place.
Constructed between 1137 and 1281, the Basilica of St Denis is the site of the tomb of the first bishop of Paris, beheaded in 250 A.D. Except for three, members of the royal family ruling France
since 496 all are buried in the Saint Denis Basilica. In short, I could spend hours in this place, pondering why Marie Antionette's statue is touching her breast, why so many of these tombs are topped with naked statues of their royal inhabitants. I could stand for hours slowly walking through the place. The Sauvage, however, quickly walks through. There a few things he wishes to point out, namely Anne of Bretagne, who, for the Bretons, has an almost God-like status.
Instead of pondering the statues and stained glass windows, he lies in wait, in the ossuary, behind statues, every chance he can get to grab me and kiss me, to run his hand over my breasts, down my back, to bury his face in my skin in the midst of the bones of French royalty. And me, although I love it, I resist, I push him away. I fear getting caught or some how offending the spirits of royalty here. How would Marie Antionette or Louis XIV feel about me being felt up next to their revered bones? So I giggle and push him away.
There is a part of me that wants to stay longer at St. Denis. To really be able to look at the place instead of being hurried onto to the next activity. Yet, the truth is I wouldn't have ever the seen the place without him. It is easier when one is without language to silently agree rather than try to explain that you want more time to look and understand. I simply follow him back out into the August sun for a coffee before the next leg of our trip.
The next place is "the surprise." While driving we pass a sign for the Ranch of Davy Crockett. The Sauvage points it out to me. "You didn't expect that, did you?" Well, no, although I rarely contemplate Davy Crockett, France isn't exactly where I expected to find his ranch. Turns out "the Ranch" is part of Euro-Disney, part of the typical French schitzophrenia towards America. They hate Americans, but they love our "culture"-music, television shows, movies even Starbucks and MacDonalds have taken a strong hold here. Turn on French TV and you're more likely to find an American television show or movie dubbed into French than an original French program. Why exactly the French would want to go to an erstatz Davy Crockett Ranch, I have no idea. "You see that" as he points to the sign, "Everything in France is possible." Typical French conceit, I think.
On the way there, we stop at a road side fruit stand and buy a large mellon. The French countryside is peppered with roadside stops with picnic tables. We sit at one of the table and eat pieces of fresh mellon.
The surprise turns out to be Provins
, a Medieval town, and specifically Caesar's Tower (AKA Tour Caesar). The tower was built between 1152 and 1181 under the rule of Henry "the Liberal." The building signified the count's authority over the town rather than any military purpose. By the 13th century, the tower served as a prison and became known as the "Prisoner's Tower." Between 1417 and 1433, Provins was occupied by the English. During this time the tower became known as "Pate aux Anglais" (English sandcastle). In 1998, the tower, known as Caesar's Tower (although absolutely none of the research I've read can explain why).
Walking through the town was amazing. It's one thing to go and visit a place like the Shaker village, a historical site that is empty and preserved. Here people were living in houses that were built in the 1100s. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to live in a house that was over six hundred years old. All the slanted wood I saw made it seem sure that it would be a life without a lot of straight edges. But then again, symmetry and flatness are overrated.
We walked through the town up to the Tower.
Once inside the tower, while the first two levels of stairs were easy to climb, the last level of stairs were the original rough hewn stone stairs from the 1100s. One look at them, asymetric and huge, and I knew I couldn't walk up them. Furthermore the stairwell, such as it was, was narrow and without a railing complicating the issue even more. The Sauvage started up them without even thinking. Then came back when he noticed I wasn't following him. I explained to him it wasn't possible for me to climb these stairs.
Because of the language difficulty, I had not explained my disability. I thought it had been fairly evident, my last trip me being hardly able to hobble across the living room, that there were mobility issues. I was nervous about how well he would understand and accept my disability before the trip, and now it was pretty clear that he didn't understand the extent of my difficulty.
He grabs my hand. "No, my love, everything is possible." Once I got past the first two huge stairs, with his help, the rest of the stairs were manageable, and I was indeed able to make it to the top. Although the whole exchange did make me a little nervous about what else might be expected of me, I did make it to the top. On the way down, it was the same as at St. Denis, pulling me into dark medieval corners to kiss me.
On the drive home, after driving for an hour, he pulls over the car, and we sleep in a field for two hours in the sun amidst the queen anne’s lace and grass. I lie down next to him not thinking I'll be able to sleep and wake later, unaware of how long I have slept. He checks his watch, and after a bit of kissing ,it's time for us to go so we can be home in time for him to prepare for dinner with friends.
Labels: france, men, provins, st. denis
Bad Bunni posted at 1/17/2008 11:40:00 AM