Most people when they have their mid life crises do something like ‘oh I don’t know, jump out of a plane for kicks, (face your fear), leave a defunct marriage, (‘yeah thanks for the last 30 years I’m off, see ya’)… One of my girlfriends, (bless her) … walks the Bibbulum track, I’ve blogged about it before, my one attempt at walking a tiny part of it, but after a day, my feet were covered in blisters whilst every bone in my body ached. I’m all for tipping myself out of my comfort zone and tackling something new. However, looking back on one of my tales, I can now (thankfully) see the funny side. The time I flew to France to be with a man I’d met only a few weeks earlier. Naturally, I had at least one friend who said ‘yeah, good luck with that.’ I knew what she was implying. ‘Have you gone bloody mad? Oh wait, your at that time of life. Mid life…’
Love puts a spring in ones step doesn’t it? I was miss ultra positive from the get go. I had nurtured a dream of living in France for years. Who doesn’t think it’s the most divine language of all? I loved nothing more than to sit at outdoor cafes ordering a cafe au lait, people watching, breathing in the atmosphere and pinching myself ‘I am finally in FRANCE’. I have made it, I may marry a french man and live happily ever after. Voila!
And so, my french boyfriend who could speak fluent english (he was a teacher) was supposed to meet me at the airport. I arrive and he is not there. I call him, there’s been a problem, can I meet him at the train station? Sure. After 24 odd hours of flying, all I wanted to do was have a shower and fall into a warm bed, but now I have to get on a bus and head to the train station. This was not the reunion I had envisioned.
We meet again. He seems edgy. I’m exhausted. He takes me to a cafe, orders me a hot chocolate. Instead of being happy to see me, he is suspicious. ‘Why did you really come?’ My worst fears are tumbling down around my hot chocolate and I stare out the window, surely this can’t be happening. I tell him I’m exhausted and want to go to the nearest hotel. I will meet him tomorrow. He insists on carrying my suitcase and together we walk across the road to the nearest Pensione. He converses with the attendant as I slump against a wall, listening to his perfect voice, the voice that has been seducing me for months. He walks me to my room. “Au revoir’ kisses my cheeks. I’m confused. Irritated with myself for being so foolhardy. What did you expect? I chide myself, but I’m too tired to answer.
The next morning we meet again. He is dressed in last evenings clothes. He is still edgy, challenging me in a way I don’t understand. Maybe he’s changed his mind now I’m here. As we eat our breakfast and converse somewhat awkwardly I decide that I’m not feeling comfortable. The truth is, I’m deflating fast. I tell him I’m moving to a hostel for a week or 2 and I’ll meet him each day for a walk. I need to play things by ear as my dream unravels before me.
We attempt to be friends. He holds my hand, whispers in my ear. He takes me to every church in Marseille and we sit quietly side by side admiring the gorgeous buildings. One day we are walking around the old market place . He points to a building where he used to live ‘with my lover’. I question him about it. Why he said the word lover and not girlfriend. ‘My lover was a man. Are you shocked?’ ‘The look on my face possibly said it all. ‘Well it’s kinda something you could have told me before I came all this way to see you again huh?’ I had a whole lot more to think about now. I asked how long he lived there with him ‘5 years’ he replied. We limped along for a few more days until I decided I’d best put the whole episode behind me. I said goodbye to my dream, farewell to the country where I longed to live and flew to Morocco instead. Not everything in life turns out the way we hope….
C’est la vie.