Room with a View

Posted on 02 May 2007

Attic View

Attic Lookout

This is where I perch in the morning to watch the sun rise and write in my journal or return in the afternoon to edit sections of my novel. It’s a rough old house – around 800 years old – though beautiful, it needs a fair bit of work to make it truly comfortable and functionable. Tomorrow a builder and architect are coming to have a look and give me an estimate. First on the list is creating a roof terrace to the left of this window – Rob’s dream – and enclosing the rest of the space with double glass doors leading outdoors. And the room will be finished and full of light.

The other day, I was riding high, feeling good about what I had accomplished in the extra time I’ve given myself here. My final job was to meet a lawyer accountant in Paris and file French tax forms. All was arranged and then she sent me an email telling me that her fee was 265 euros a hour (around 400 CAD). My heart sunk. A lawyer friend in Vancouver charges $225 a hour and I thought that high but $400 to fill in a form? I ranted. I paced. I didn’t know what to do. I know I can be unrealistic about cost sometimes but this seemed insane. Still if I don’t see her I will have to scramble my last week to find another way to get the job done. I decided to scramble.

Right decision? Wrong decision? I don’t know but I do know that I’ve been given contradictory information. One young woman, a Notaire – real estate lawyer – told me to file. I got in touch with an English/French accounting firm and the man I spoke to said that there’s no need to file as there is a convention between Canada and France so people like me/us aren’t double taxed (though the thing is that I wouldn’t be double taxed – I would fill in the French form noting that I had acknowledged the house and paid my dues in Canada.) We’ve owned the house seven years and have never filed because we didn’t know that we are supposed to file. Or are we?

I am angry at myself. I should be able to speak French better. I have to scramble here, there, and everywhere trying to find a person who speaks English. I have been coming here for seventeen years and still haven’t mastered the language enough to take care of business.

Perhaps this is yet another wakeup call. Rob and I have had a number this year. We have put our business affairs in the hands of experts – or so we thought – and we have lost money and paid too much for services. The problem is that it takes time to manage one’s finances. I’ve been taking the time and find that I have probably made more money for us than I would at a job. This does give me some satisfaction.

Rob and I have a strange existence. He has a house to himself in Canada. I have one here. We are both loners Even when we are together in Vancouver, we spend a lot of time alone. I am often in my house in the garden. Rob is in his office. We seldom eat breakfast or lunch together though we do come together for dinner.

I observe other couples’ lives and to me they seem claustrophobic. One of my cousins is envious of Rob and my relationship. He says that we have the best of single and married worlds. I am grateful for the way my world turns.

I find myself alone discovering what I like, following my own rhythm, eating, sleeping when I like, sinking into the silence, loving myself and hating myself with no one to blame or praise except myself.

I find myself together with a person who gives me lots of room and trusts me to take care of our business affairs, and who has the warmest, sexiest, most enveloping arms I know.

I am ready to come home. Below: modern train in Gaillac station. I’ll take this train to Toulouse next Tuesday where I will catch another to Paris, spend a day wandering (now that I am not going to see the lawyer/account – saving a bundle so I can dine well) and then catch a jet plane to London to Vancouver.

Gaillac Train

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