Just lately, something has been preoccupying me. The something is a question.
This friend of mine has got me into a panic because, as she quite rightly pointed out the other day over a vin chaud in the creperie, there are only about 8 weeks of the season left.
It is an unsettling idea when you feel you've only just settled in.
A text from my Dad a few days later fanned the flames:
“Poppetto. Hw’s life? Missing u. Hv fwdd ur post to chalet as rqsted. DD xx”
Good. This means he hasn’t been opening it all himself and reading it like he usually does. Also, in this age of unlimited text characters you have to love my Dad’s incredibly unnecessary and inventive attempts at txt spk.
“Thanks Dad. Xx”
Then a few moments later, another text.
“Just wondered. Are you going to pay Southern Water? Only they’ve sent three or four demands now and they’re starting to get nasty...”
Oh fuck. Bills. Reality. It has been all too easy to sink into the protective cocoon of routine around here, and forget, almost completely, that this life has a sell-by date, and that I have a past. The idea that only a couple of months ago I was living in a house with utility bills to pay seems totally alien, as if it was a life lived by some completely different person in a different dimension. I vaguely recall having had some notion I’d pay it off after the first chalet paycheque came in, but that idea went out of the window long before I spunked the entire amount on a new pair of ski boots.
Bollocks. “Thanks – will deal with it. Don’t worry.”
I am now swimming in an emotional whirlpool of indecision.The age-old question. What to do next? The problem is I've been offered this amazing job back home and it's a beguiling thought at times. The posh office job, me tottering into work wearing a nice little pencil skirt and carrying a brand new laptop. I'm not immune to mid-season fatigue and homesickness. The thing is, I love my friends, really I do, and I miss my family like crazy but, you know, going home always seems like a great idea until I get there. And then after about 2 months I find that nothing has changed. Nothing.It’s just the same people doing the same shit coke at the same parties, having the same conversations because their lives are no different. Pleasure-seeking in darkened rooms or thinking up ways to avert the boredom, like getting hitched or popping out a sprog or buying a new sofa.
I have this friend. Lets call her Peaches. Elegant, refined, adored and revered by everyone around her. A brilliant career-woman, home-owner, mother…. Exquisitely beautiful.... And a kleptomaniac. Constantly five finger discounting objects of various value from large retail outlets, supermarkets and stores. Knows by heart her optimum thieving hours - what time the security guard switchover happens in John Lewis and they switch the cameras off for 15 minutes. A master at work.
“I have this impulse” she said to me over dinner once with a gleam in her eye, “When I stay at a friend’s house, to steal things. Small things that wouldn’t be immediately missed. Earrings, an ornament… Am I crazy?”
Then there’s DeeDee. Who confuses excitement with anxiety and therefore spends her entire life locked in a glass cage of emotion. Whose constant hunger for attention turns every day annoyances into a Shakespearian drama. Facebook is a stage for her very own real life soap opera, where every fart is photographed, documented and put on show with accompanying running commentary. She generates her own infamy online by tagging every tiny event in her life and posting a video about it.
I know a couple who spend every weekend blowing cocaine up other couple’s arses, consorting with sexual deviants of an evening while their baby son slumbers upstairs. They get no sleep but are up at out at 8am to take him out to the park or brunch or a parents' meeting as if they are as square as dice.
I know another woman, happily married with children – who has a secret double life as an internet pornographer. While her husband drives the length of the South selling software and bringing in the bacon, she cavorts on a four poster with two Chihuahuas acting out the fantasies of the hairy, the housebound and the kinky. She doesn’t need to do it. It’s all for shits and giggles.
Then there’s Brian, who claims the only thing getting me through the day is the knowledge that every shit he takes while working at his office is a paid shit.
Then there's me. I do seasons. I think part of me likes the to have the fear every six months...
But really, perhaps I should stop worrying. SbH doesn't seem in the least bit worried, after all. In fact all this reminds me of a moment in my first season. I’m walking down the road with SbH and two large bin bags feeling grubby and tired and suddenly I feel impelled to ask him:
“What are you going to do in the summer?”
He doesn’t hesitate for a moment. He knows. “Going down to Palma to look for a job on a yacht.”
“You won’t go back home then?”
“Maybe for a week or two. See the olds. But not for any length of time.”
For some reason this idea makes my heart sink. The thought of him being suddenly so far away from me and this cosy little intimacy that we have each evening makes me feel lost in the middle of a huge raging battle. A battle to keep good people in your life. I think of the vast ocean and him afloat on it somewhere miles away and feel tiny and insignificant and alone.
“What will you do?” he asks.
I don’t know.
I burst into tears and squat down on my haunches in the middle of the road.
“Hey,” he crouches beside me and holds each of my shoulders. “Chin up,” He stands me back up and puts a comforting arm around me. “You worry too much.”
“I can’t help it. I don’t know where I’m going.”
“Worry less. Do more…” he says, with conviction and starts to guide me down the road again. I wonder at this certainty and at how untarnished by life he is. It strikes momentarily that he is naïve. Or then is it quite the opposite?
We continue down the road. As we walk towards the poubelle with our bin bags I look up and see between the crevice in two huge shoulders of the mountains butting together in the distance a fragment of moon shining almost too brightly to look at directly. We stop and watch as the earth visibly revolves under us and the moon creeps outwards, from just a chink of light, until eventually it hangs between the jagged jaws of the rocks, a full, dazzling pendant haloed in gold and bruising the clouds above it in maroon and silver.