We had removed all the cheese from the hotel room and the smell was gone. In fact we ate the cheese on the baguette we bought on the way to Mont Saint Michel for the second time. This time we arrived even later than the day before, though I'm not sure why it didn't occur to us at the time, we weren't going to be able to make the tour of the abbey, again.
Upon entering through the draw bridge we came upon a crowd of people in the pedestrian street. Walking up I remember hearing screeching but until we were upon the scene I didn't make the connection of the sounds to the animal they were coming from. A bird of prey had caught a pigeon and was clutching it in its talons and fiercely plunging its beak into the feathers while the pigeon screamed under the weight of its body and the talons and the piercing jaws. I ran from the sight of it all. I swore I saw intestines. But the pigeon was still screeching and writhing.
I couldn't shake the vision from my head. I stopped watching gory movies long ago for this very same reason... once images become ingrained in my mind's eye, I can never rid myself of them, and they pop up seemingly randomly on a never ending visual loop in my brain.
When we got to the top of the mont to enter the abbey we were too late, bumping into a nun locking the gate, he asked if we could quickly go through. I couldn't understand her response. And instead we go out into the muddy garden in the rain and take the baguette and smelly cheese from the backpack and have a snack. He comments on how cliché it is for him to be carrying a baguette in his backpack, and restates that the cheese needed to be refrigerated, but serves me up the best fromage and baguette sandwich at the top of a castle in the rain, ever.
"Fascinating, really." He says. "To witness a bird of prey so close in the act of its existence." Circle of life and all that. I'm still completely freaked out by the sight and sounds of the scene.
As we're driving back to the hotel room that night, I'm driving and talking, and he's got his hand on the nape of my neck and then traces my shirt line to my bare skin at the front of my chest and succumbs below. My words fall off as my physical response to the sensation of his touch becomes more powerful than my mind's need to continuing filling the air between us with words. I am aware that its been ages since my physical desire has been more powerful than my mental faculties. I give in to his touch and melt into the drunken haze, I am suspended in the moments.
Maybe we don't need to make dinner time. Maybe this will be sustenance enough. We mange to get dressed and dinner conversation that night is lively and spirited. We stay up late debating and watching Looper. We sleep late in the morning and the rain and the clouds are still holding to the coast line when we have breakfast. We're uncertain of where to go to explore next on the road trip and we can't seem to come up with any good ideas, most places are closed for the winter and we don't want to keep driving further away from Paris because that will only make the return leg of the trip that much longer. I'm not sure how we settle on Quintin.
There was a tall pointy rock standing in a field in the town, according to google, and I wondered if maybe the mystery of it would mimic the mystery of the experience I was having? I needed some kind of sign, something larger than life to keep me grounded, because if it kept going like this I would be lost in orbit. Grounding, we drive into the equivalent of a French Super-Walmart in this small town to ask directions to the castle and the Menhir. We slugged through the mud up a rutted farm road to the Menhir, past a basic barn with cows, and the sky spit on us. Arrival at the rock in the field was anticlimactic. I wish I had another word to describe the feeling, but it just was a bonerkill, no other description comes to mind. A large upright rock in a farmer's field. I was there.
We laugh. Now what do we do?
Then we mush back through the tractor tracks and make it to the paved road and walk back to the car, it begins to rain, hard. We "try to see the bright side of things" and get our umbrellas from the car. It rains harder, then sideways. We take cover in a church in the town. Its dark and cold inside and its interior does not distinguish itself in any exceptional way from any of the churches I have been frequenting in Paris. After a while, of separately wandering inside, we meet at the front door and hesitantly decide to leave the cold shelter to venture back out into the rain.
Raining sideways seems to swipe our adventurous spirits and the rest of the day greys into nightfall and questions start to swirl about where we will end up and where we will stay. We head in the direction of Paris, we're hours and hours away, but in the rain, we figure that getting closer to home is the best way to spend our time in the grey and the muck.
We call every hotel, bungalow, and b&b for miles on the coast and nothing is open for business, its winter. We have to trek in land. When we finally land in a common city in the interior of Normandie and find a place to stay the night, the energy has shifted. I remember trying to internally shake the feeling, but something grey had fallen upon us.
We go to dinner after checking in and having sex. Now, looking back, at those moments in our last hotel room, I know I faked it. It was the first time in our interaction, I attempted to play a role in order to deceive him in the situation. Not out of evil or wicked malevolence. I wanted him, no doubt. But I wanted him to want ME more than he had ever wanted someone. All of a sudden I needed him to want me.
We never made love again.
We walked to dinner both holding separate umbrellas, attempting to agree on a place, cold rain dripping on me, frustrating and unmanageable, out of my control, we settle on a steak house, I think he'll be happy eating beef, if he's happy in a place, maybe I can settle in again with him. At dinner we make small talk, he mentions a female colleague and a misunderstanding they've had, he decides to email her at dinner about clarification. I sink into darkness.
I sink into the muck and the grey and the widening trash pool of my own insecurity engulfs my thoughts and tugs at my heart. "What about me? Do you want her? Don't you want me?"
Across the table he pauses and sits upright. "What just happened? Something changed. I don't feel comfortable anymore." I'm impressed and at the same time terrified by his intuitive sense of my inner world. But I can't bare to tell him I've just become jealous, I only divulge that I realize I'm leaving, and I sit upright, shoulders back as I describe that I am going home in a few days and I've just put some much needed distance and space between us as things come to a close on our adventure. He leaves his seat across the table from me and moves to embrace me in his arms, perhaps trying to make me feel better, or knowingly, trying to salvage the energetic connection we had held up until this point. I falter, instead of rise, to this occasion, I stiffen under his embrace.
This is a moment that I will wonder about for as long as I live, what would have happened if I melted in strength into his embrace instead of stiffened in weakness?
Would he have loved me in that moment if I had let him?
After dinner, holding our separate umbrellas, we walk towards the castle in the center of the city. He wants to see the castle and walk the walls of the city. I can't stand the rain and the cold any longer. I want to go home. I don't care about the fucking castle.
I've seen enough. I'm cold.
We go back to the hotel room. We never make love again.