I should mention that the lovely hosts (about whom I have so much to write about, but out of courtesy for their privacy, I will refrain) had invited me to aperitif in their garden, and served a delicious pastis, which is a strong anis-flavored spirit, along with some saucisson (dried French salami sausages).
That was earlier this evening. Now, alone in the dark, I lie, feeling so scared, in this gigantic stone place, in an embroidered linen bed thinking of all kinds of horrible thoughts. It’s my first night in France, and in Europe for that matter. I scrambled to put on my glasses and I saw something move really quickly, low and fast — for sure, it’s a black shadow. What is that I see and hear in the dark in this country house once owned by a cousin of Louise XIV? An animal? As a north American, when I see an animal, I think of a human owner. There is a stranger in my room, and he’s bought his animal! But the fact that now he’s completely silent suggested to me that he might be as motivated as I am about not wanting to be found out. So pretending to be dead, I lie still in bed for what seemed like a really short time but also an eternity before dawn break. I clutch my cell phone in hand with the number ready to dial to my hosts. I was so scared. The only comfort that I had was this, that I could scream, and everyone would hear. The apartments are on top of and next to each other. Just the other night I heard a child having a mild nightmare.
Finally, when it was dawn I got up out, being fed up with being afraid. I was ready to confront with whatever awaits. With daylight barely broken, and the birds just beginning to chirp in that slightly melancholic but happy way in the early morning, I set out to examine the entire place, tiptoeing around and checking behind every linen curtain and French door. Looking in the stone garden. Treading down to the wine cellar. Opening the boiler closet. Nothing. No one. Completely silent. The air is surprisingly peaceful. Behind the bathroom is a spare room stored with a crib and a mattress, and behind there is an opened window, with iron bars securely fastened. The opened window let in a breeze. That’s when I realized what had happened. There WAS something in my room, and I wasn’t alone.
God damn it, it was a cat!!!!
Probably the same black one that I had seen when I was looking at earlier that day when I was trying to help the group of people to find their cat!!!!!! Goodness gracious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cat had been walking around in my French bedroom all night.
I was so relieved, and laughed out loud at the sight of the open window. If I hadn’t bumped into those people, I might not have put the 2 and 2 together! I was so relieved and so happy. On this early morning, I popped open a bottle of sparkling water and celebrated cheerfully. Viva la France! Heck! Hallelujah! Viva me!!
At times something magical swirls around in a vortex around each one of us…more to follow later on this theory with another story as proof.
By 8AM, the construction crew started their hammering and drilling. By 10AM, the host came by to pick up a piece of furniture and by this time everything had returned to normal. He sported a ponytail, man-purse casually slung across his chest, and capri pants, and he checked to make sure that everything was locked, and then left. I slept in till the afternoon, and made out for a drive to go to a Roman city. I ended up in Drome instead, and was once again lost, this time in the French alps, high up in the mountains, and looking up to an imposing peak with this church at its foothill. I went in to buy some water at a market, and the woman was so courteous, as in never or rarely have seen such a foreigner before. Lots of other things happened that day.
It was so wonderful to explore without a care in the world, and to come home to my cave. Dinner that night was, believe it or not, Chinese food (a la French flavor, e.g., sweet and sour frog) because all the restaurants had closed, and I chatted with the owners who had been there for 30+ years. A very heartwarming conversation. I also realized that in France, anything that has to do with Asia is denoted as “lotus,” which might have something to do with the classic Tintin comic strips by Herge, who wrote “The Blue Lotus.”