I have been in and left France since the last post, I am sorry.
I arrived safely on the ferry, which was less like a barge (some people had this idea) and more like a small blue and white cruise ship, complete with lounges, cafes, airport-flamboyant carpeting, and a ¨sundeck.¨ Quotations explained by preceding posts about weather. I had bought the cheapest ticket, which was for a seat in a room of seats, rather than a cabin with a bed. This was okay because everyone put their sleeping bags on the floor and slept there anyway. It was actually very soothing to sleep with my body against the rocking of the boat on the gray blankety waves.
Julien picked me up in the sweet little battered red car that was sort of our home for the next week. We never actually slept in it, but it felt that familiar by the time I left it. It was full of his cigarettes and my chocolate bars. His bag full of different kinds of leather to make into different kinds of pouches, my bag full of all my various things, worn-out clothes and poems. And the one windshield wiper always got stuck on the other one.
Here is Julien and you can see little Nanette´s door to the right.
Before going to his town of Mayenne, which has a castle that looks like this
Julien took me to a tiny little town on the northern coast (in the region of La Manche, I believe) and we stayed with friends of his, artists, who inhabited in the fullest way this house. It contained elaborate puppets, hand-made tapestries, old canvas stretchers that were broken up for fire wood, cigarette butts, moules frites in a pot on the stove, and a gorgeous collection of books in french.
The next day we all took a walk along the beach, where I lost my phone and gained a sense of quiet stretches of space and air that Ireland didn´t have. The kids and dogs were beautiful running long-shadowed on the sand, and I found a perfect spiral shell I put in my pocket and have forgotten about until right now.
The beach was not far from where the American troops landed in Normandy. This is a monument to, I think, Canadian soldiers. I didn´t read it, but there was a building with a Canadian flag nearby.
Here is the town where we stayed the night. I had never seen a town like it, and it would be impossible to describe exactly what was so shocking about it. Everything white-stoned and empty on Sunday, even the old Church from some period I´ve probably never heard of.
We also spent a day and night in the city of Rennes, which is in Bretagne and is filled with streets that have the impression in my mind of being cobblestone, but might not actually be. They are lined with cafes, patisseries with the most incredibly delightful pastries and breads you can ever imagine, bars with people sitting at all hours of day, little shops that are lovely and curious without being touristy.
Being with Julien meant being constantly on the go, visiting his friends wherever he happened to have them, making new ones where he didn´t, always arriving there toting croissants, saucissons, and beer for all. There was no telling what would happen, and an unexpected dose of culture shock only made everything seem faster and more overwhelming. But it wasn´t bad, only strange, only a good challenge. I had to retain myself in each new situation, and did. I had the distinct feeling that every day I was living a different kind of life, and I was okay.