(Market Day in Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue)
Isn’t it wonderful how life presents us with the most delicious stories – when we least expect it? Maybe it has to do with not looking for anything in particular but fully soaking up the newness of a new location, a new village, or a new person. Maybe it’s about listening rather than talking, being interested in ‘the other’ rather than getting others interested in us, being open to see something anew rather than being seen.
It was a sunny Sunday morning in the Provence and we went to the market in Isle Sur La Sorgue! Meandering through all the stalls, constantly getting whiffs of cheese, fish, bread, meats, and delicious prepared snacks, is unfailingly calling for a coffee break. So here we were, sitting patiently in front of a restaurant along the Sorgue, waiting for our coffee. Hedi, a friend, and I, soaked up the sun to warm them bones that got a bit chilled because in spite of sunny clear skies a chilly cold wind blew what felt like straight from the Arctic.
“Have I ever told you the story with the Spanish guy?” Hedi asked and looked expectantly at the two of us sipping hot espresso out of thimble sized cups. No, we hadn’t heard the story. So she started telling us how she saw last year this interesting, good looking man in a restaurant. She didn’t know what exactly it was but something about him fascinated her. She kept glancing at him and so did he, looking over to her. Something hard to describe was in the air, she told us with a slight blush, some electricity perhaps? After a while he came over and sat at her table. First she was surprised by his straight forwardness, calling her on the glances she’d sent over to him, but soon she relaxed into his open, no nonsense pleasure in meeting her. He was gorgeous. A gentleman. They chatted for hours, certainly flirted – and not only a little. Hedi felt like a young 18 year old on her first date. The delicious excitement of the moment was still visible on her face as she recalled that night.
I looked over to her as she told her story of budding attraction, of being highjacked by unexpected feelings of sexual interest, of having a sense of butterflies in the stomach. At my age, she emphasised with a big smile on her face that, although showing all the wrinkles 70-odd well lived years demanded, nonetheless was the face of a stunningly good looking, vibrant woman. She was lively, charming, and entertaining as she shared her story of surprising lust, something she hadn’t expected to feel again at this time of her life. It was easy to see how she could capture the interest of a gentleman. She surely captured mine.
I wanted to know how her story ended and was disappointed to hear he left the following day to go back home to Spain. However, not without giving her his card and invitation to visit her in Madrid. Of course I wanted to know whether she went. No, she didn’t. She’d thought about it, played with the delicious ‘what if…’ scenarios for a wee while and then tore his card up. “This way I have this unblemished, wonderful memory” she said without any regrets.
Oh, I am not doing too well with ‘not so happy endings’. The romantic in me always looks for the happy ever after, although at my age, I should know better, shouldn’t I? But then, some people have to hold the romantic fortress in an age of cynicism and business-like, utilitarian relationships.