Monday, 29 September 2008

La Jardinière

I am in France!

It is very nice here. Nothing happens.

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Not wishing me to be homeless in the week between leaving my temporary digs and the date of my departure to France, Flatmate gallantly offered me the spare room at his house. This was fortunate. I’d deliberately selected the date I travelled to France to be a week after I left my temporary digs, trusting he’d say I could come and stay with him in the interim.

“The spare room’s ok for you isn’t it? You’ll want your own space, right?” he said. “My room’s a bit small for two. And, well, I’m not really used to sleeping with another person in my bed. It might be a bit, um, strange.”

“Whatever’s good for you,” I said, “I don’t want to get under your feet.” This was a lie: I actually wanted to spend every moment of every remaining day as near to him as possible.

“Also I don’t want my housemates to think we’re up to anything in case BK comes to stay with me and they mention it to him,” he said. “They think you’re just my friend.”

“Whatever, dude. I’m just glad you don’t mind me being here.”

After I moved in, Flatmate barely let me out of his sight. Would I meet him for lunch? Perhaps go out for a meal in the evening? Go for a jog? Grab a coffee? Accompany him to Tesco’s? Play badminton? Sit with him and share a pot of camomile tea while he works on his chess?

You bet. But at the end of each day, no matter how hard I tried to convince him to sleep in my bed, he would still kiss me goodnight and disappear to his own room.

On the fifth day, Flatmate’s landlord came round unexpectedly with a prospective tenant for the spare room. He was very displeased to find it full of me and my stuff. He rang Flatmate at work immediately.

“Get her out of there by five o’clock tonight,” he shouted. “It’s not a bloody hostel.”

“It’s not a problem, Weasel,” Flatmate said to me when he got home. “Move your stuff into my room. And sleep there too. It’s fine.” Was I imagining he looked as pleased as I felt?

“But I’ll be under your feet,” I protested. “You need your space. I don’t want to invade. Where will my two suitcases go?”

“We’ll get them in. Stop flapping.”

Hallelujah for angry landlords. I was forced to spend the next two nights in Flatmate’s bed. He didn’t appear to find it strange. In fact I would go so far to say he was delighted I was there. As he fell asleep in my arms I silently thanked the universe for the unexpected gift. My eyes explored every arc, every angle of his lovely face. The scent of his skin, the sound of his breath, the warmth of his body, the feel of his hair as I wound a finger through his curls, sent me into raptures. I wondered how I’d finally managed to find someone who made me feel like this.

“I love you,” I whispered in disbelief at his snoring form.

But on the second morning, I woke up and it was time for me to go to France.

While he got ready for work, I sat on his bed and tried not to cry. "It would appear my contact lenses are making my eyes water," I explained.

He smiled, cupped my face, gently wiped away my tears and kissed me softly.

“It’s been so wonderful,” I snivelled (nicely though). “Has it only been good because we both knew our time together was finite? I’m scared that life will lead us in different directions and I’ll never see you again, or I’ll see you but you’ll just be BK’s little brother and we’ll never regain this. What if this is it? Over, forever? You’re so beautiful. I can’t believe you manage to walk down the street without being set upon by gorgeous women. Somebody will snatch you up. And what if I get to New Zealand and accidentally marry someone before I see you again?”

“Don’t worry, little Weasel,” he smiled. “We’ll meet again for sure. Destiny. It’s written in the stars. And, er, do try not to marry anyone. You and I have unfinished business.”

And then the man who swears he has no emotional bond to any person outside his immediate family, the man who claims he needs nobody, wants nobody until he’s hit forty and has achieved a respectable chess rating, kissed me again and said, “I love you, my friend.”

And we parted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am staying at the home of BK and Flatmate’s mum. She lives in a large converted barn in the countryside a forty minute drive from the town of Poitiers, which is somewhere near the middle of France. I am here with BK until we fly to New Zealand at the end of October. Not being wealthy enough to offer Ma any rent, I am working like a bastard in her vast garden in exchange for my keep. BK, meanwhile, sits and watches DVDs to pass the time, and complains of boredom.

I miss Flatmate but working in the garden focuses my attention on the present: the feel of the sun on my skin, the soothing sounds of birdsong and the wind rustling the trees, the problems of how to remove a mile of unruly brambles, how to stack a free-standing woodpile, how to build a dry stone wall. It is wonderful to be outdoors in such a lovely, peaceful place; I can feel my body becoming stronger and fitter and I am glad. When I do physical work, I am happy.

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I can’t blog from here. Ma’s internet has a dial-up connection so slow it is almost non-existent. I also wish to keep this blog away from the eyes of BK and Ma. So I have come up with an excellent plan! I am emailing this to My Lovely Sister, along with instructions on How To Post A Blog. If you are reading this, she has managed it. Nice one sis.

Meanwhile, I’ll be in the garden.