Saturday, September 17, 2011

What I did this Summer Part 3, I go South

     It was a mistake. Not having gone upstairs with Nicolas and getting it done. Not fixing it up between us with the truth. Leaving town. Of course you don't really know how big a mistake you are making, while you are making it.

     I do now.

     When he said what he said, I should have just kissed him and told him why I was being hesitant. He had no way to know, I had satisfied him a couple times already with out even being asked, just not that way. I am an experienced woman and like sex, and wanted it with him, and even secretly had a goal of losing it this summer. It would have been perfect with him.

     I don't even have a good reason why I was saying no to him, except that I had built it up into this big thing in my head and sort of wanted him to know that, but was too embarrassed to tell him. We had shared so much personal stuff in the short time we knew each other, the kind of stuff you only tell people you trust, like about our dreams and stuff.

     I should have just gone upstairs and had the perfect experience it would have been and then told him. He would have got a tear in his eye and  gazed longingly and tenderly at me, and then professed his eternal love, and we would have lived happily ever after, having little french babies and dying in each others arms at age 100.

     Well thats one possibility. It would have been a treasured memory if it had just been a successful summer fling.

     I think that I just wanted to have the person know it was important to me and I got scared. I have a way of screwing up good things and only later realizing how good it was. I did it with my friends in high school, I did it with my mom and my family, and I did it with really the first guy that I thought about having serious feelings for.

     Margot was furious with him. Not that I said anything, but she could tell that something had happened and she knew that he was a man. I tried to tell her that I had messed it up with him, but I don't think she believed me. Especially when he called me to apologize and she heard his tone of voice, sounding guilty of something. Again stupid Chloe, doing silly little things that make waves that expand out into other people and have effects way past me. I hurt him. Or at least I think so, he sounded hurt when I told him I was going to go down to the south for a few weeks.  A rejection of him. But really me, scared, to dumb to fix it, embarrassed, running away.

     I hear he is going out with an art student with pink hair now. She does performance stuff where she takes her top off at sidewalk cafes in tourist areas and videos the peoples reactions. So I know I hurt him, because he is not a fool. But then she is probably not a virgin.

    Monseiur Varenne had arranged for Leticia to get a bit of vacation with a young grad student and his wife, and another girl. Leticia was not to happy about it really, she just wanted to hang out and go out, not be with strangers some where out in the countryside. So it came up that maybe I could go. Maybe Margot thought it and suggested, trying to protect me, or maybe Leticia just saw the opportunity to have a win/win. I jumped on it.

     So a couple days later Thierry and Marie, and Manon showed up in a little car jammed with stuff, and I added my stuff to it and got introduced and hugged and kissed and waved at, and I left Paris.

     Thierry was a doctoral student in neurobiology, and worked at the university in some lab job, and Marie was his wife of 2 months. This was sort of their honey moon as they only had a long weekend away after their marriage. But since they were not too well off financially, Monseiur Varenne had arranged for Leticia to go along and help with the cost and Manon was a friend of Marie's. Sharing it 4 ways, made it possible for them.

     Thierry was tall thin with dark hair and dark shadow of beard hair even after he shaved. He wore black rimmed glasses that were as plain as they come, but he was lively and intense. Not happy lively but just sort of energetic and hyper. He was a decent looking man if your into that sort of thin face, owl eye intense look. He was also super smart, although my first impression of him was that he needed to chill, and enjoy life. He looked and acted like he hadn't in a while!

     Marie was gorgeous! Not skinny, but not at all overweight. Sort of thinly voluptuous, like a skinny girl with big boobs and a butt that wasn't big but really stood out. Sort of a barbie but not disproportionate. She was died blonde, but not really, and was smart and funny too, and way more chill than her poor husband. She is the kind of girl who is super sexy, but also down to earth and doesn't flaunt it. I got the impression that she knew how good she looked but was kinda embarrassed by it.

     They were a good couple, you could tell they were bonded to each other and really loved each other. They sat up front.

     Manon was in back with me. She didn't seem too friendly at first, but english was not her strong language. I later learned that she spoke Dutch, (she was a student in Paris, but from the Netherlands), French, German, some dialect of Dutch, a little spanish and Italian, and pig latin in all of those, which was so confusing for me when she did it! I couldn't tell what language she was talking or if she was having a seizure!

     She was one of those quirky girls, sort of the kind that would look at you and giggle then look away off into their own world. She didn't talk much anyway, but smiled and giggled all the time. I even wondered if she was retarded at first, but no, definitely not I found out as we got to know each other. Her style was sort of like schoolgirl/anime mixed with hippy and second hand store. She was wearing a brown rough fabric dress with a piratey black cloth sash around the middle and some sort of clog shoes I had never seen before, and she had some sort of woven, beaded necklace and a blue scarf. With her pixie hair cut and her perfect madonna round face and green eyes like I would love to have, she was a totally unique person.

     She looked at me up and down and met my eyes as I got in and said bonjour with a happy smile, but then turned away and looked out her window as we started to drive, as if she was listening to music in her head. She didn't say or even acknowledge me for almost a half hour of driving, even though I was in conversation with Thierry and Marie. But it didn't seem she was angry or anything. She was just the sort of person who was happy by themselves. Shy yes, but not so much as just content to remain apart. I'm like that too, and she and I soon found that we had a lot in common.

    I had settled into my own thoughts after a while and was looking out the window when I felt her softly brush my arm to get my attention, and then started pointing out things outside the window and saying the french word for them. She had taken it upon herself to teach me french, like a little baby, but with the most gentle air of silliness to it that I could not have been offended. I was to learn that she was the most playful person I had ever met, but also had a massive imagination counter balanced by a keen observation of the world around her. She seldom made a mistake. She seemed to always know what was going on around her and acted appropriately. She just wasn't very verbal. The inside of her head must have been a gigantic playground that she only left when needed. Kinda like me.

     After a few hours of driving we needed gas, and a discussion ensued up front. I heard numbers flying back and forth and worried looks on Thierry's face and soothing remarks from Marie and more discussion. I can count to on hundred in french just fine, but I have a hard time making out the numbers when spoken. In fact I had a special trick for when shop keepers talked to fast. My bonjour is good enough so the they don't know I don't speak french, but anything else, especially the listening part is horrible, so what I do is say "me parler comme si j'├ętais un infant", speak to me as if I were a child. And of course my pronunciation is so bad that they get the idea right away and talk slow and exaggerated, and the men usually smile at me sort of flirty. The first time Manon heard me use this trick she laughed so hard! She kept saying things to me over and over in a high pitched slow voice for a while after that.

     Anyway we are at the gas station and Thierry turns and explains that their calculations of gas mileage, gas prices and such were a little off, actually 2.3 % off, they had plopped the numbers in to an algebraic equation, done in their heads and concluded that if they were 2.3% off going, then coming back would be similar and that they needed to adjust the food and entertainment portion by 4.6 %. Apologies to me that It may not be as deluxe a trip as I was expecting. Marie looked a little resigned, not sad but bravely happy in the face of it. Thierry seemed stressed. Manon amused but silent. Seems gas there is like 6 or 7 dollars a gallon and it was 50 euro to fill up the little 10 gallon tank. They had budgeted 200 euro for all the gas and any change in the budget had to be watched or they wouldn't have money to get home! These people were way to stressed! I would never do algebra on a vacation! But then I always had enough money.

     Nobody said anything to me, but I got one of my cards out and asked Thierry if it would work for gas, and that if we put all the gas on the card we wouldn't need to worry about cash as much. He started to frown, but then smiled and said he would try, and yes you can buy gas in france on an american visa card. We filled up and got back on the road a much more relaxed foursome. Finally a problem Chloe can fix! Monon brushed my arm again and smiled at me and sort of did a little wiggle dance in her seat. She did that a lot, gently brush you to get your attention instead of saying something. Marie handed back snacks and it was starting to feel like vacation.

     I've never had to worry about money. Not that we are rich, or not that we think of ourselves as rich. But Dad had always made a good amount and saved and invested, and mom had her business and her own investments, and money was never an issue. Part of the reason for that is that our family is not really all that status or material conscious. We had good stuff, but spending a lot always seemed to be sort of decadent. It was not the values my parents had. Mom had a mercedes slk as sort of an extravagance, dad usually drove his old toyota pickup that could carry a kayak or bike or camping gear, but had a Ducati in the garage under a tarp as his main extravagance. (I got the SLK for my 18th, but its too sad to drive still, because mom never let me when she was alive) Our house is real nice, but its paid for. Mom had received a $5000 inheritance from her grandma when she passed and invested in apple stock when it was like $10! and now it was worth hundreds, and she had other investments, and life insurance and her business, and all that was split between the 3 kids. Dads taking care of mine, but really I am financially in pretty good shape for an 18 year old girl. I have almost $100,000 of investments and own a mercedes. And Dad is paying for school too, because he did for the other kids. Some times I feel funny about it, but I have promised myself to not be stupid, and I'm not really a spender anyway.  Its good for me to be in situations where I see how it is for most people, having to worry about money. What it means for me is that I can do things with my life that people who need to spend their life working just feeding and housing themselves cant. Intellectually I know I have a moral obligation to somehow repay the universe for my good fortune, but I'm not sure how yet.

     But killing the stress on a road trip is a small start!

     We ate food they had brought as we drove, and finally got there about 8pm. There being http://www.abbayesainthilaire.com  in the "gite de murier" or mulberry suite. It was a cute little sort of apartment, a tiny bedroom and a living room with a kitchenette and a fold out bed/couch. Guess who got the couch? Manon and I. Thierry and Marie being married and the reason for the trip of course had the bedroom. Not that we couldn't hear everything! And they were making up for lost time the whole time we were there! At least twice a day, and during the day they would disappear for "walks".    :)     I hope I get it like that someday.

     Abbaye Saint Hilaire is in Provence, and by coincidence only 50 km from where my dad was staying! Although I only went over and saw him  once. Its about 30 miles from the ocean, so easy day trips to the beach! But its in the country, on the edge of vineyards and backed up onto a small forrest. I can see why Leticia was not too thrilled about it, but for me it was great. I like to walk and chill and meditate sometimes and don't need a lot of excitement and stuff. They had a restaurant there and a great pool with views into the countryside and hiking trails marked with colored signs like ski trails to let you know how hard they were. There was a little village about a mile away and bigger towns all around. Each Gite had its own table and chairs with umbrella outside and a barbecue stocked with wood, in addition the the cooking facilities inside, and I think this was part of the reason we were there!

     Dining in France is expensive! Its not uncommon for dinner to be $30-40 euros, $45-60 dollars, although there are less expensive places and much more expensive! And you have to add wine to that too! So we cooked and barbecued most of the time. Its fun to go into town and buy dinner supplies and just make your day about eating and relaxing and drinking wine and laying by the pool. Manon was the best cook. She was so cute when she cooked, she would put a bandana around her head and hum little happy songs to herself. I think her cooking is why she was in the mix. I learned how to reduce wine in pan drippings and add some cream and make simple sauces from her, although they don't always gel for me, sometimes they separate. It sort of ended up with her and I being the cooks and since my skills are not up to what everyone was used to, I was her apprentice. But she was not a angry demanding chef! But like a 20 year old grandma, happy and nurturing, and she seemed to love feeding people. We ate chicken a bunch of different ways and fish a few times, but with the freshness of the food and the wonderful vegetables, it was like fine dinning, but more relaxed.

     We sort of got into a routine of going for groceries everyday to different places that had the farmers selling and deciding on what to have for dinner by what looked best, and then buy some wine and bread and maybe pastries for the next morning, and maybe have a coffee and then back. It felt good to have something to do. We walked into town on some days, used the car some and hitched rides too. We tried to make it so that Thierry and Marie could relax and be together as much as possible and not have to worry.

     Manon was good in bed too.   :)   I mean that she didn't seem to mind at all sharing a small by my standards double bed with a stranger. She didn't roll around or snore or hog covers, or mind that I didn't say a quick prayer before getting into bed!  It wasn't always easy to get to sleep with the newlyweds in the bedroom, sometimes it sounded like someone was going to get hurt! We would giggle about it and listen like pervy voyeurs, trying to guess when it would "crescendo". Sometimes we would listen to each other after.

     I slept better there than I had in a long time. I think I had been holding onto a lot of stress and anxiety over the last couple of years and it was starting to melt away. I mean here I was with total strangers in a strange country where I could barely talk, but I was more relaxed than at home. Maybe its just that at home you know what to worry about and there I was just out of it.

     But part of it was Manon. We became friends the instant she started teaching me baby french in the car. Its like when you are 4 or 5 and some kid comes up and starts playing and instantly your are friends. We really didn't talk much, when we talked it was about practical things, what time we would do something or where to go or things to buy, but not ideas and feelings. And not about ideas and feelings because we seemed to know what each other was thinking and feeling with out having to verbalize it.

     Manon had this amazing ability to show up. People call it presence, or charisma or personal power. She was childlike in her demeanor, but sometimes she would brush her fingers on your forearm to get your attention and you would look at her and it was like every fiber of her existence was totally focused on you. She was just completely present, and filling your attention. She could nod, or smile a certain way, or have some expression and you knew exactly what it meant and who or what it was about, and all without a word. It was almost as if she was telepathic or you were sharing minds with her. And then she would smile and her presence would fade back and you knew it was still somewhere, but it was like it was back in her own place.

    This is going to sound silly, but I imagine Jesus or The Budhha being like that. Probably way more so, so much that they could do it for any size group of people, but the same sort of intense "being there". Manon didn't do it with more than one person, except sometimes with Thierry and Marie, and then it was like it was divided between then, and so, less intense. It was an incredibly intimate feeling, and very safe feeling when she did it. I wanted to ask her about it, to describe it in words but we didn't have enough language in common to really talk that deep.

     It makes me think that there is some kind of god or fate or divine plan, that the universe arranges for me to have the experiences I do. Not that I believe in a god that is a person, or that watches over each and every second of our lives. But it make me feel like there is some more organization to life than what I know of.  I needed a friend and "god" provided.

     I am usually a fairly independent person. I'm quiet and keep to myself mostly, and I'm fine that way. Usually happier that way, than with a lot a people. I think Manon was like that too and even more so, but we sort of worked really well together, neither of us minded the other being there, or worried about what the other would think or want. It was just sort of automatic. We were together the whole time almost, we did everything together, and never seemed to need our time alone, like we normally would.

   She was wickedly mischievous. Wickedly! One day we had gone into town and were walking around looking at stuff and went into the church there to see it, luckily I had a scarf! So versatile, you can express your self with it, bandage wounds and be holy in the sight of god with it on your head if you wonder into a church! There were people in front doing the talk to god thing, and we were being real quiet, she did the stuff your supposed to, sign of the cross, coin and candle , a touch of holy water, etc, and I followed behind knowing god didn't mind me not doing it because my heart is pure, (or at least it felt that way, that day). We went over to the side where the mary was and I sat down and she looked like she might be saying something to mary, and then a family came in and was pretty loud, the parents not watching the kids and saying things to them way to loud for the atmosphere. I mean people were praying! Just as the family passed Manon, the father in the rear, Manon farted the loudest I have ever heard a girl fart. Seriously it echoed! She looked like she had to strain to make it so loud! And just at the same time the Priest came out of the confessional booth and looked at the loud dad like he did it! And other people were looking at him too with total disgust on their faces! OM FUCKING GOD! It was sooo funny!

     She made the sign of the cross to the mary and kneeled and then stood and  turned and we walked out of there holding our laughter, but almost bursting! If there is a god, he had to be rolling on the floor too, it was so perfect. Manon had more innocent goodness in her than a whole sunday congregation, and her fart was so like an act of piety, not profane at all, like it was a holy fart that lessons could be learned from. It was less a defiling of the church than the tourists coming in disregarding the real meaning and use of the place.

    We treated ourselves after that to some very nummy chocolate things with ground nuts in them, and very rich expresso. She was in a wonderful mood all day.

     She was fearless. Maybe that is why I felt safe with her. I sort of followed her around like a puppy, even though I felt we were peers in some ways, she was the wiser, braver one. I am so naive sometimes and get myself into things that I don't know how to deal with, and have the linger tickles of fear in the back of my mind that I will do something stupid. She had none of that, like I say fearless.

     One day we were exploring a town nearby, just walking around where the people lived away from the shops and stuff, and it was a little bigger town, and these two guys started paying attention to us, like watching us walk around and when we went by they said bonjour, and I bonjoured back, but she didn't say anything and we kept walking. A few blocks later, we saw them again, but in front of us, which meant that they had intentionally done it. Now I'm 5'3 and she is a little taller but we are not big, and we both could pass for 15, so these guys really had no business with us, but they thought they did, and started walking with us and talking and stuff. Manon did the little brush on my forearm thing and kinda put her lips together like "be quiet", and so we are walking along, looking ahead and ignoring them. These guys were probably mid 20's and I'm sorry but I have to describe them as greasy. Not dirty, but just sort of ewww. Insincere, vaguely threatening, stupid and obviously after a hookup without dinner and a movie. If they would have been smart and funny and joking and trying to make us comfortable it would have been fun, but that was not the vibe.

     We sort of got to where we could tell we were getting out to the edge of town and were feeling that maybe we should turn back, and they knew that too and stopped, so that when we turned around they were in our way, and just stood there smiling. The less stupid one took a step towards us, kind of testing our reaction. EKKK! I was about to pee my panties, I didn't know whether this was it, rape time or just macho posturing or what. We just stood there and then Manon started smiling at them real bright and started to turn on the presence thing she had, where its real intense that she is so totally focused on them, and it sort of startled them. The she holds up her hand with her thumb and pointer about a half inch apart and looks down at their crotches! OMG! They weren't too bright and it took a few seconds for them to get it, but then you could see them turning red and the anger building. But she just was looking right at them and smiling. Then it was like something in them broke and they deflated. They said some nasty words at her, salope and puta and stuff, but they turned and left.

     She wasn't so happy after that, not angry or scared, but kind of sad for a few hours. But she was back to humming to herself making dinner. I wonder if she knows men so well that she knew that would be the thing to do? Or was she just being defiant? All I know is she is fearless. I don't know what I would have done if I were alone, try to talk? Run? I don't think that I would have the guts to just stand there in their face and stand them down. She did.
    
     There were things that scared her. Well one thing. Her body. She was very pretty, she had a better figure than me, perfectly proportioned for her size, not too big in the hips and thighs like me, nice breasts, not at all overweight and not skinny. Not a barbie like Marie, but certainly a nice body. And a very pretty face and cute hair, so maybe she wasn't spectacular, but a lot of girls would think she lacked imperfections. But she had a thing about people seeing it.

     I noticed it the first time we changed to swim in the pool. We had pee'd in front of each other, it was just the one bath. Quicker that way, but that was with clothes still on. And we shared the bed in just panties and a cami, but I changed into my bikini in the bathroom and she was in there with me like it was not a big deal to see me naked, and I was sort of waiting for her to change and messing with my hair and stuff, but she wasn't changing, and gave me a look like she was waiting for me to leave, so I gave her her privacy and she changed and came out in her very modest one piece, and a cover over that, and a towel in front of her. I guess it was me stereotyping that europeans are all less modest.

     She swam and played in the pool like a little kid, but when she got out she always put her wrap back on or the towel. Its funny how everyone has their own thing. I'll be naked in front of anyone basically. I've been to a nude beach, and have skinny dipped with friends, boys and girls, and It doesn't bother me at all. Stare if you want. Want me to pose? But it seemed painful to her to be in the situation where others could see her too much.

     One day the manager came around asking everyone if it were ok to have a clothing optional day at the pool. Seemed that one family from Germany had thought that the pool was officially clothing optional and had asked if it had days and times. Well there was no official policy it seemed, and they were put out a bit, as they had expected it. The germans think nudity is healthy. The French just think it is fun. Well fun or not they felt uncomfortable if there was not a rule about it or some sort of policy, so the apologetic manager is trying to see if everyone is ok with it. Too funny, just take your clothes off and see if someone screams! But it ended up being an official policy that tuesdays, wednesdays and thrusdays were now officially clothing optional. Other days were topless ok, but not officially clothing optional. German problem solved and so we go out to the pool and there are the pink germans happily being healthy, and their kids being healthy and alls right with the world.

     Until Thierry took off his trunks. Again OMFG! There is a video on the net with the drummer with a bunch of tats, from some band, tommy lee and his wife, and this drummer is like real long. Like when a horse drops, all hanging down, and swinging around, in a way most men don't. Except Thierry! Wow! And like Marie is looking pretty proud, and Manon is giggling openly, and I am taking off my stuff absent mindedly staring at it/him. And the german wife is kinda open mouthed, and her husband is turning red and kind of huffing and whispering to her.

     Thierry had a bit of a smirk. Its not like he was aroused at all, just abnormal! The German man kept a magazine on his lap a lot. His was normal, and he was a bit heavy, so it was just a little thing above his testicles. Nothing that would swing! Too funny! And it was all his doing that we were naked! Thierry did have a couple of times when he had to jump into the pool, but really it didn't get much bigger, just started to not swing. I'm glad men have something to be self conscious about too, we have our boobs and our weight and our hair and our FACES!

    Manon kept her suit on. She didn't seem to mind the nudity at all and was perfectly comfortable with me and Thierry and Marie and the Germans, but it stayed on.

     Some of the best beaches in the world were just an hour or two from us and we went a couple of times, since gas wasn't a crisis. :) And I had said beforehand that I was going to go topless on a french beach never mind that I am fat right now! Actually I lost 15 pounds in France. I think I know what it is too, Starbucks®. I gained almost 50 pounds last year. I just lost control with all the other stuff in my life and in my head and I was drinking 3 or 4 starbucks everyday. Pretending of course that I didn't know that they were calorie bombs! Peppermint mocha, carmel mocha, white chocolate mochas, venti with whipped cream. Four would be an extra 2000 calories a day. It was like a drug, I was comforting myself and lying to myself too, because I was into healthy food, no McDonalds for me, chicken or fish and veggies and high fiber, less processed starches, salads and fruit. But now, no starbucks. Its been like 8 weeks since I had one, and its showing. Ok to be honest I had one when I got home from France. Just one.

     We went to a little circle beach called la plage anse de magaud in Toulon, which was like 30-40 miles south of us. I was thinking that it would be terribly crowded and all, but it wasn't. It was a tiny little cove with a restaurant against the hill on one side, and it was mostly families and tourists of course, but more relaxed than I thought. We swam in the mediteranean and drank wine and snacked and laid in the sun, and I took off my top. Manon looked at me like I was silly, but not like I was doing something wrong. I think she kinda knew I was a little bit of an exhibitionist. Marie took off hers for a while too. Finally after I had looked at Manon expectantly she pulled hers down for about 30 seconds, made some wavy motions like "ok boobs, get some sun" and then pulled it back up. I didn't see any gross scars or birthmarks or anything, just normal girl parts. Its one of those things I think I would need better french to explore, her feelings about her body and I didn't try.

     That evening we ate at the little restaurant, sitting on the deck watching the sun go down, well watching it get dark. Its a California thing to watch the sun go down, cause we face west! We drank wine and ate and sipped more wine and more food. I paid. Finally about 9:30 after coffee for Thierry (and us) we drove home. It was a beautiful day, nice drive, good company. Thierry and Marie of course did their duty before we all fell asleep. I would have been to tired.

     We actually did that same beach thing twice, and drove around seeing wineries bit, and once all of us went over to see my dad and have dinner. The area is so much like the Napa Valley, except it is more open feeling rather than just between to strips of mountain. One thing the Napa Valley doesn't have though it the lavender. There are a couple of fields here, but in Provence it is an industry. They eat it and perfume with it and probably use the stalks like hemp for all I know! There is a lot of it and I love it. It grows in big long rows that will follow the counter of the land for acres. Its my new favorite scent. Feel free to sniff me, if you see me.

   It went by quick. We stayed 15 days I think. For something so unplanned, it was the perfect thing for me. After the more hectic pace of Paris, and my blundering with Nicholas, this brought me back to a sort of calmness.

Next, back to Paris.

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