Friends from High School

Posted on 04 June 2005

This morning I stopped in at Susan’s and she gave me a bowl of perfect cherries (a luxury at home) for Gill and “her young men.” Two of Gill’s high school friends from Vancouver arrived last night or rather early morning for a rest on their six-month European adventure and so Gill’s attention shifts from her mama to her friends. I am content to let them catch up and to close the doors to my room and begin the paperwork for the writing workshop.

Yesterday, I shifted furniture and cleaned the writing-room/salon and fell in love again with the white stucco and natural brick walls (without pictures), the soft wood floor that I sanded and stained last year, the natural-coloured cushions on wood sofa and chair – elegant, to my eye, yet simple and tranquil. I rubbed toned-wax into the surface of the small desk and then buffed it to a shine. For some reason, I love these simple chores.

The door, leading to the outside, is often open now and from its frame, Bedding’s beaded curtains hang, providing some privacy. This morning, I swept the outside walk, not because I felt like it, but to please Lucette, my next door neighbour. She likes it “propre” (that translates not as one would expect to “proper” in English; but to “clean.” ) When Lucette handed me a broom – can’t remember if it was last summer or the summer before – I was pleased, not annoyed, and felt that it was a symbol of her acceptance. And though she is nosy – her head pops out the window at the slightest noise – I don’t mind. If anyone tried to enter into our house when we were away, Lucette would demand an explanation.

I should be able to describe, being a writer, how and why this village calms me, pleases me, but I don’t understand it completely myself. I sat in the Esplanade, after a salad lunch by Gill, and looked over the low stone wall to an expanse of green – irregularly shaped fields, an occasional cluster of trees, rows of hedges – and perhaps half a dozen stone farmhouses or chateaux, and feel no need to move or do anything. I feel alone but it is not a bad “alone”. My thoughts wander. I hold a pen and scribble into my neglected journal. I feel like a child who has been given permission to do anything that pleases her.

Whenever I have a moment, I return to Anais Nin’s biography. The biographer, Deirdre Bair tells, in the introduction, that after writing the life story of Simone de Beauvoir and Samuel Beckett, she was criticized for choosing Nin as a subject because Nin is not a literary genius and what’s worse, she lied constantly. But Bair calls Nin a major in the minor author league – and Bair appears, to me, to be mesmerized by the lies, the extravagances of Nin, the ways in which she manipulated her lovers including her psychoanalyst. I find myself revolted yet mesmerized too. Nin lived in her journals. They informed her life rather than her life informing her journals.

So here I am reading Nin rather than Saint Theresa. It’s partially Vaughan’s fault for she insisted that I bring this thick, hardcovered volume, and partially mine, because I did as I was told – a rarity. (Though Vaughan suggests that perhaps the sinner will inform the saint.) Who knows where my mind will drift in this ancient village that some say in haunted by ancient ghosts. When Leslie visited a number of years ago, she said she was frightened. She dreamt of battles and blood.

Tonight, Gill, her friends, and I shall treat ourselves to dinner in La Place.

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