We watched them hop into their car and return to their Airbnb, and I felt a hole in my stomach. There is some element of every interaction lately -- when the phone call is over or I'm waving goodbye on a sidewalk -- that the mask comes off.
Last week began with a bus crash. So much has happened since then that the bus crash feels like an afterthought, even though my shoulder hurt for a few hours after. It took three extra days to write this post -- which felt a little like climbing through a thicket.
I am full of contradictions. I change my mind so many times, and the only conclusion I make, (a trivial one) is that all my heroes are French women who misbehaved -- George Sand, Colette, and St. Therese (in her own way).
We walk from the metro to the restaurant and Paris looks especially beautiful. The sun won't set for hours, but it's like a prolonged magic hour. The way the streets are angled allows the sun to warm the buildings and sidewalks with an amber glow. We approach the fork in the road where the restaurant sits.
In winter the well was dry, so I wondered: why now? Was it listening to Albin de la Simone on repeat? Was it the texture of herbs under my fingers as I chopped them? Or maybe the smell of the lemon zest? (Something that comes to life by scratching a surface?) Was it still the quiet restraint of "Mrs. Dalloway"?
"Be careful," my mother said as I put down a bowl of milk for him, and sat down on the concrete of the carport. I spent a lot of time trying crouched down, meowing, hand outstretched, to the cats that crossed the yard. They usually ignored me or an in the other direction. This cat seemed to need me. His cries were so desperate.
That evening I paced across the rug in the living room through a dense cloud of my thoughts. Do you ever feel as though you are just...waiting? Like you are paused watching something far away grow close, but you can't tell if it's good or bad, and you can only stand and wait?
If you don't nail down the holidays, hold tight to the warm evenings and baton down the sunny afternoons, you'll lose it all in an August windstorm. I'm never as strategic as I would like. Some summer Fridays pass by and all I do is binge watch TV. Every May I scroll past the weeks on my calendar saying things like: Bermuda, Montreal, New Orleans. It never happens.
Thinking back, this was a week of two things: friends and weather. I had many dinners and drinks in all my favorite places, and as I commuted I pulled my jacket collar over my neck. Sure, there were brief moments of sun and warmth but I only experienced them on my ten minute lunch breaks. It rained quite often.
Saturday morning I zig-zagged through midtown. It was raining, not a polite drizzle, but a downpour. My insides were anxious, my stomach jumped. I sat in my doctor's waiting room and couldn't even look at my phone and I hadn't been sleeping soundly.
A rare optimism persisted on Monday and Tuesday of last week. I had plans every night on Tuesday through Friday. If only the weather would cooperate -- the temperature dipped into the thirties, I retrieved my winter hat from the closet and frowned.
From far away I noticed a man -- tall, over-tanned, perhaps in his early 40s -- approaching the pool area. He bypassed the towel stand. The attendant was mid-sentence and tried to stop him but he kept going. He took off his white t-shirt and tossed it on a chair and dove gracefully in the pool.
The rest of the week unfolded in a series of surprises. I knew that I would be at the doctors office on Wednesday, a gala on Thursday, dinner out on Saturday. But none of those things went exactly to plan.