Shirley arrives

Posted on 22 July 2005

Shirley brings Vancouver to me and news of the plums and our Saturday writes. I am happy to have one of my writerly friends with me. Last night, we went to the Vierge, after a Gill nicoise salad and eggs, tomatoes, bread and wine; after sitting with Susan and David, Hannah and Adam, and their sweet albeit noisy boys; after a trip to Albi where I found a white layered skirt on sale – the one I’d been looking for in Paris with Marlene.

So we wandered through the dark ancient streets, that always make me think of the past. What would it have been like to be here five hundred, eight hundred years ago? I imagine women in long skirts, crisp white blouses worn high on the neck, and men in armor. (A villager told me that there was sometimes two or three families in each room of each house but not, I doubt, in the house of Susan’s son Adam where Louis XIV once slept.)

And we passed by Bedding’s house and as her window was open, we yelled up, and she joined us at La Vierge, and then Ruth surprised us on her evening stroll and sat with us. While Shirley talked to Bedding, I spoke with Ruth who is always sparkling, always alive. And as we talked, we looked up to the sky, bright with stars and a round full moon. Ruth spoke of men. She says she wants one from Mars. And she described a book she has just finished about extraordinary women who could not live in this world – like Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton – and their craziness, their inability to adapt the inner turmoil to the outside. She told me of a young woman who wrote a novel and submitted it to a juried contest, and when she had waited long to hear if they liked her story, she jumped from a building and killed herself. Her father wrote to the jury to withdraw her novel as his daughter was dead. And the man, in charge, curious, read it before returning it and thought it good – the story of a young woman who jumped off a building and died.

So we sat the Vierge and talked about turmoil and art. Ruth spoke of the angst she feels before a performance. She never knows if she will be in the right mood to give her best. (She plays the viola.) We spoke further about our own feelings, our own perception of ourselves, that can differ a great deal from the way others perceive us.

After midnight, we all walked down the hill and up into the village. Ruth and Bedding said goodnight and Shirley and I, feeling good, returned home, poured ourselves a tiny liquor glass of armagnac. It is a curious lovely world here and I am proud of it (though how little it has to do with me) and happy that Shirley can share it with me.

Today, we will drive to the Mediterranean, without hotel reservations or particular village in mind. I love these adventures. Back Sunday.

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