Frehel Diaries: Bang, Whimper
While I thought that we were taking Nana home to Mama and Papa Sauvage, we were actually taking to her yet another public "fete" with fireworks and beer, but not the dancing from the first fete. While the fete goers were more numerous, they stood on the edge of the field watching the night sky. There was no collective dancing, there was not the bacchic spirit of the last fete, but something closer to what one would expect at a fourth of july celebration-a bunch of people waiting for fireworks. And as soon as they are over, off the two of them scamper across the grass, walking in the darkness-leaving me in their wake.
We drop her off at his parents house and take their car. So that's one issue dealt with-there is at least a car that can get me far enough to a train station or something that will eventually deliver me to Charles de Gaulle.
After Nana is dropped off, we go to the beach. We sit in the dark, smoking and listening to music-looking at the ocean while smoking one last joint. "I'll miss you" he says. But I don't believe him. Generally I don't believe anything I hear when a man's mouth is moving...even if he isn't the one talking. I find it goes far easier that way because the amount of truth I hear uttered from the mouths of men I am romantically involved with could dance on the head of a pin and still have room for the entire higher and lower holy assembly, their dates, pets, children, floaty pool toys, and the entire cast of Ghandi.
We go back to the hotel and try to make love. Neither of us can, I'm thinking of the trip the next day. I'm sick at the very thought of it-him...I'd like to think it was emotion but given his track record I don't think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Afterwards, he immediately falls into gently snoring sleep. Me? I lie awake in the dark listening to him breathe and trying not to think of everything that can go wrong on the trip home. I try to think of the beautiful serene blue of the Ocean, the peace of sitting and watching it, but it keeps being drowned out by missed train connections-my inability to understand the French railway system-not making my plane thus finding at the mercy of the one employee at Air France who wants punish non-French speaking Americans for their hubris. This vacation is going to end exactly how it started, I fear-courting disaster which will strike at exactly the moment I think I can relax. Soon, though, I shall be back in the realm of the known, of the predictable, of the well fore seen event.
At five, I stop lying awake staring at the white walls of teh hotel room and begin to get ready. He continues to sleep until fifteen minutes before we have to leave. I'm all ready-showered, pack, fully awake. I've been sitting in the window looking at the view from our hotel-trying to enjoy everything until the last minute. He, barely conscious, throws on some clothes and helps me to the car without saying a word.
We load my bags into his parents car. We silently makes our way to Lamballe, about a half hour drive. I stare out the window silently. I'm counting the hours and minutes before I get. I'm reviewing all the steps to my upcoming trip: train, check in at CDG, get on the plane, get off the plane, get cab, weep with joy as I hug my cat. We get there and he orders my ticket. I'll have to transfer, I silently curse. We have time to go to the cafe across the street. I explain I don't want anything to eat or drink-I'm sick with fear. But he still gets me a coffee. We drink our coffees slowly quickly and go back to stand on the platform silently.
The train arrives five minutes later. He hugs me and kisses me.“Oh my sweet Bunni,” That’s all he says. Once. I tell him "You don't know what I do for you," he tries to disagree, but he really doesn't know. I know, but the train is here and my french is sparse. He helps me with my bag into a seat and then gets off the train without looking at me. He stands on the platform outside my window-looking at me through the glass. A sad serious expression on his face. This very well could be the last time I ever see him. And I who have intimidated men, as Voltaire once did, with my wicked wit. I who am known for my ability to know just what to say. I was speechless. Not for my lack of ability to translate, but because I, for the first time, could think of nothing to say. I simply wave. Sadly and briefly.
The train lurches. I’m on the long way home. It is, of course, unfair of me to expect that he would drive me back to Paris. It would take him 14 hours if he drove continuously under the best conditions. The train trip, despite my fear, is easily done and far more comfortable than the car trip without AC. I sit part of the time writing in my notebook, and part of the time regarding the quaint Peter Mayle-esque farm houses we pass.
I find myself thinking about the vacation despite my intentions. I think about what the Sauvage said to me. Without me, his life will be simple. His daughter, his parents, his friends. The familiar terrain of the place he grew up. The language he knows. The life he has chosen.
And me? Well, my life is never simple. With or without him, it will be complex and difficult, but certainly it will be easier to understand. I am going back to the world of being in control of my words and thus my own destiny.
Nothing goes wrong on the trains. I arrive at CDG with two hours to spare-enough to buy lunch and do my tradition perfume shopping at the duty free. Although I didn’t plan on calling anyone until I returned to the United States, once my train arrived in CDG I found myself picking up the first phone I saw without even thinking. I dialed my mother, and true to form, even though it was six o’ clock in the morning her time, she picked up.
I start to cry. I start to cry because I am so happy to speak English, to hear it spoken, to talk to someone who knows me. To not have to struggle and strain and blunder and equivocate and sacrifice...to speak precisely and be understood with ease. I never thought I could miss a language so much in my life. We chat for the most expensive 20 minutes of my life. I never imagined it would cost so much to talk to my mother, but when the credit card bill arives later I pay it without flinching. It was worth it.
She is alarmed by the crying "What's wrong?" she says. Nothing, nothing I tell her. I'm just so relieved. I make sure nothing horrible has happened-no one has died, fallen ill, been sued, lost their job, eaten my grandmother's cooking and also leave messages for my cat sitters. I swore I wouldn't do this. I mean, does seven horus really make much of a difference? My cat would tell you that it can make a serious dent in her trying to flush herself down the toilet schedule, but generally I try not to trust anyone who regularly bathes using her own tongue.
I tell my mother I will talk to her when I land. Getting on the plane is deceptively simple. I expect some sort of complication-security to take umbrage at the package of caramel salles I'm bringing back for Bakerina or my boarding past to be for a flight that left yesterday. After all, nothing in my life is simple not even a flight. Yet the flight takes off without a hitch.
Every time I’ve flown back from Paris, I’ve cried. I try not to, but suddenly I find myself thinking of all I have experience and before I know it my cheeks are damp every time I leave France. I thought I wouldn’t cry this time, I began to long to be kissed. And I thought of him. Those kisses. Soft and gentle. Falling asleep being held. I am going back to my familiar, but empty bed. To my predictable, but empty nights. To... And suddenly my eyes are filled with tears. I put Wonderwall on my Ipod as tears slide down my cheeks. I think of it as our song even though we have never listened to it together. Even though he doesn’t know that we have a song, and probably never will.
Because, as I said to him on the platform, he doesn’t know what I do for him. I’ve rebelled against what I’ve spent years cultivating. I put my trust in another person. I trusted him to take care of me. When I was in high school, I had a dream that bats flew down my throat choking me. The dream was vivid and terrifying; I told my therapist. She asked me to talk about the bats, what was so disturbing about them? I couldn’t really figure it out and so we chatted about them for a while-was it disease? Was I scared of rabies? Was I afraid of being bitten or cut? No, no, no. Then it came to me. “It’s because they rely on each other. Because they are a community.” Because of what has happened to me over and over again, I’ve lived like a chateau from the Middle Ages-with a moat and a large vat of hot tar on hand-isolated, but easily defended should hostile forces invade.
But to make this trip, I had to put down the bridge and invite the barbarians at the gates inside. Tap the keg and let them jump up and down on the Victorian divan in their muddy sneakers.
He, of course, doesn’t know this about me. Doesn’t know that I use my tongue like a barb wire fence. Doesn’t know I would rather risk bodily harm than put my faith in another person. And most likely he’ll never know. He’ll never know how hard all of this was. That I had to embrace the one part of myself that I do the best to hide, to forget, to suppress. That he asked the impossible of me and because in France everything is possible, I was actually able to do it.
And he’ll never how much I didn’t want to cry on that plane. And yet, I did anyway. Just like everything else on this trip, when I least expected it while I thought of him holding me and saying, “My sweet Bunni, my sweet Bunni.”
Bad Bunni posted at 7/02/2008 04:06:00 AM