So we're getting along smashingly and at breakfast I sit down and I hear him say he's gotten me breakfast, but it doesn't register in my modus operandi and I go to get myself a croissant and he says again "I got you breakfast" and there's a coffee, orange juice, egg, pain au chocolate, croissant, baguette with butter and jam, ham, cheese, and mustard and I have a moment, where I realize oh, mi God… this is what its like when someone else is thinking of you… he picks snails and feeds them to you, and gets you a pain au chocolate for breakfast…. and he is eating his Nutella and bread because he got that for himself, while he was ordering you a coffee and an orange juice.
The rest of our days spent together are pretty wonderful, not in a total fairytale way, (ok, well maybe in my fairytale way), just in the fact that we don't have a weird moment and we travel and explore well together. In the daylight we walk the beach towards the walled city and another castle by the sea on rock. The city of Saint Malo has an air of majesty and mysticism, everywhere you turn your gaze there is a fortress or castle-looking-like-building-on-a-rock surrounded by sea. This becomes a running joke between us, "Oh look, another castle, on a rock. Lets get a crepe and an ice cream cone."
Ok, there was one odd moment on the second day because our hotel room had started to smell. I noticed it in the morning but was embarrassed to inquire about what was going on, and we were gone for the majority of the day exploring when we came back the smell had become undeniable. We were packing a backpack to trek back to Mont Saint Michele in the late afternoon and I had purchased lots of snacks for our road trip and he says "I think its the cheese. You know its supposed to be refrigerated."
No way was it the cheese! There's no way a piece of cheese in a bag in the closet could make the entire hotel room smell the way it did. I was certain the smell was coming from the bathroom and it smelled like a smell that would be coming from the bathroom. And the cheese didn't need to be refrigerated, it wasn't refrigerated at the cheese shop. I knew lack of refrigeration not being the culprit was a slightly weak argument... but still, it couldn't be the cheese!
"I'm pretty certain its the cheese, and that explains why the car started to smell, too. What do you think, just because I'm a frenchman, stinky cheese doesn't bother me? You think because I'm french I like the smell of feet?"
Oh, but this is worse then the smell of feet. We remove all the cheese from the hotel room and buy a baguette on our way back to Mont Saint Michele, we had arrived so late the day before we didn't get to take a tour of the abbey so our plan was to go back again to take the tour. The day had gotten away from us as we had spent hours walking the beach and walking the walled city of Saint Malo talking about family, war, marriage, children, milestones, friends, and what it means to meet all the expectations of living a normal life, only to feel half full, half alive, and lacking purpose. I sat outside the dressing room as he tried on a sweater to replace the handsome grey pullover that I had become so attached to. He tried on several sweaters, none made the cut, and I was aware that I would remember the vision of this man in his grey pullover sweater for a lifetime. There really couldn't be any other sweater that I would ever like as much as that grey pullover sweater on that man.
I was feeling into these seemingly mundane interactions between two people, shopping for end of the season sale items, trying on shoes, making comments like, "Thats an ugly color on you" or "Those shoes look like something my father would wear." Normal, typical, regular and meaningless, except that I had this astute awareness of how very intimate the act of getting to know someone at this level is... there are things you know that seemingly mean nothing, but the knowledge and the memory becomes part of you and in turn that person becomes part of you and your knowledge about the world... you can't unlearn these intimate details of a person. You know the kind of underwear he prefers, what size shirt he wears, his partiality to ugly mustard yellow over maroon or purple and you compromise by agreeing that he'll not get the mustard sweater if I stop suggesting purple, and the times of waiting in the dressing room for your lover to come out to ask your opinion become sacred moments suspended in time and space. Yes, regular, meaningless interactions between two people. Its funny the things you do remember, they're not the things you think you should remember, like Valentine's Day dinner, or the gift he gave you on your 29th birthday.... Its funny the things you take for granted when you're in the midst of your typical, regular, normal, mundane relationship. Sitting in the dressing room holding his jacket, I make a silent vow to keep this awareness of the sacredness of the mundane alive in my heart.
The truth is, I have loved a lot.
The truth is, I have so much love to give.
I know that he sleeps with one of his arms over his head, crooked elbow, hand almost on his forehead like he's in mid thought and is about to say something profound.
Each picture has a true story behind it - a heartbreak, a major turning point, an excruciating decision, a moment of grace, a whisper of inspiration, an answered prayer, a new hope, a dream come true, a message for you.
How this story begins...
In the middle...
How this story ends...