Frehel Diaries: The Road Not Taken

He wakes up complaining about his sunburn. I laugh. "It's not funny," he says. He treated his burn with sun tan oil making himself the first self basting turkey. Of course, it's funny.

Unlike other mornings where we go to coffee together, this morning he runs off and leaves me alone for 3 and half hours. Doesn't ask me if I would like to be dropped at the beach. Isn't clear about when he'll be back. Gives me some story about having to have the car checked out. I'm thinking at this point I no longer need the Coquette's Bedside Reference to Talking Dirty in French and now I wish I had taken the David Mamet "What the fuck is your problem" French immersion course.

But being an only child who was often left by my parents, I'm at ease, even in this place, being left alone. I take a walk and explore. I discover I am not far from the beach and from a series of paths at the top of some cliffs with a lovely view. I light up the cigarette I hid from him last night. I breathe the smoke in deep enjoying my little victory. So I'm no longer reliant on him for the beach. I also discover a bakery and three restaurants and I realize that I can probably easily entertain myself until the 15th. It's relief to realize that I don't have to wait for him anymore. Even more, I discover that I actually prefer being alone than attempting to wade through another conversation with him. Being with him and not being understood is worse than being alone.

The night before I had lingered in front of a decadent hotel, the hotel Chauteaubriand. I thought, "If only he would leave me here, send the bags, I would be happy." That's my father's voice. The end of every vacation, he would beg us to leave him wherever we were-New Mexico, Martha's Vineyard-it made no difference. Just pull over the car and leave him, he would plead. The side of the road would be fine, even if we were in the desert with nothing for miles. He would insist he wasn't coming home with us. It terrified me as a child, and it terrified me to hear his echo in my own voice. But that pull is strong. Just leave me here. Go on ahead. I'll be alright.

Especially since the Sauvage leaves me behind anyway. If he doesn't want me by his side, why not leave me where I might be happier?

But then the whole trip to St. Malo had been for me, hadn't it? And he had been so tired on the drive back I had a brief moment of sympathy. He's trying to cope with his parents, and his daughter, and his strange American lover.

But then again, no one told him to drag me to St. Malo in the middle of the night. I would have been much happier had he come back at a decent hour and showed me some affection instead of dragging me around some city ramparts at midnight.

It's hard to know when one is being reasonable in a vacuum. And, after all, I know happy couples who couldn't pull off a 12 hour trip together never mind 13 days without a shared language. And then there are his family entanglements and my disability, just for added extra fun.

While I knew that in taking this trip, I was taking the road less traveled, the way was getting more treacherous, more perilous. It had seemed like a simple choice to keep going forward until the end of the trip, but now it seemed that the road was forking. Which path would I take? Would I end up, as my father had wanted to all those years ago, walking alone beside the road insisting that I be left behind? Or was I simply so afraid of rejection that I was imagining it where none existed?

That's Wrong, Right?

At 33, I should stop wanting stuff like this , right?

Frehel Diaries: Boiling Point
Boiling Point- Temperature at which the vapor pressure of a liquid exceeds the atmospheric pressure and the liquid begins to boil.

He drops me off and assures me he'll be back soon. But minutes stretch into hours. While I manage to distract myself for a while, I've been sitting alone in the hotel room for five hours. I keep thinking I should go to the creperie next door and order some dinner, but somehow I don't actually get up. I keep sitting there getting both angry and scared. After all, I do need him as I have no idea how I would navigate my way out of this town on my own. And dependence makes me resentful. Time ticks by, I write in my journal, I listen to music, I think about leaving. Not just this hotel room this evening, but the whole thing. Over the last few days, he has shown less and less interest. I didn't cross an ocean to be forgotten in a one star hotel room. Finally, I think, "Fuck it, I've had it sitting here waiting." I load my my phrase books into my pocketbook to go downstairs and have dinner or at least get a drink, when he arrives. He drops his bag and kneels in front of me kissing my face, but there is none of the passion that there was before. Has he changed or have I? Is holding back because he can sense I am upset? Or is he no longer interested in me?

I'm very good at reading people with whom I share a common languag
e, but here with so much unknown, with so much at stake, it is too difficult for me to read. He grabs my hand, "Come," he says. "A surprise," he says. "Another surprise?"

Another surprise.

We get in the car and he drives and drives and drives and drives. Now I'm hungry and cold and tired and annoyed. I ask him where we are going again. "England," he says. I close my eyes and think "Christ, I fucking wish." What wouldn't I give to be in an internet cafe or a bar like Harry's American, where all the American expats go. To be in a place where I could be understood, where I could again feel in control.

Finally, we arrive at St. Malo. St. Malo is a walled port city that was powerful near the end of the
17th century. From the outside of the walls, the city is nearly invisible and thus I couldn't believe we had come all this way, but once inside the walls it's like a little Paris-a jazz band is playing in brightly lit cafes, which are packed with chatting customers, the artists are packing up their unsold paintings, even at this late hour. And I think "He's taking me to dinner here" which would actually get me to forgive him, but no, it's coffee at St Malo.

By now it's almost midnight.

After coffee, we walk around the entire city on the top of the wall. He walks ahead of me, as usual. I keep stopping to see if he will notice, but no he keeps on ahead. Now, there is no daughter as an excuse. There is no reason for this continental divide. I try and catch his hand and lure him in for kisses, but he seems disinterested except to take my picture by random edifices like this statue for Jacques Cartier. Although he claimed the photo as "perfect", you can see my general mood.

After walking around the entire wall of the city, the Sauvage asked me if I had a cigarette. I did, but it was my last one, and I didn't want to give it to him so I said I didn't. He kept asking and asking. I knew he had taken a few cigarettes from me earlier in the day. Not a huge sin, but I was beginning to feel like I was getting less consideration than the family cat. My presence was only noticed when he needed something, sex, cigarettes, actually now that I thought about it, that was all he really needed from me. And now it was just cigarettes.

Being a real Medea kind of girl, I lied and said no and thus had to be dragged around the streets and into bars of St. Malo as he looked for a cigarette. He kept asking me periodically if I had one. This annoyed me even further. I said no, I wasn't going to change my mind. Now his concern for a single cigarette was even greater than for me. And for that reason alone, I wouldn't give him a cigarette even as he dragged me into yet another bar. Finally someone gave him a cigarette. I dozed during the long drive home which meant I didn't have to speak to him or disguise my anger. I didn't even bother to think about sex as I crawled under the covers that night.

I did, however, have enough energy to wonder how I was going to make it through another five days.

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