I grabbed the large skeleton key from the drawer in the kitchen and walked outside along the cobblestones until I found myself in front of the large heavy wooden door with the rounded top and slipped in the old key with the leather strap dangling below. I slowly turned it and pushed hard to opened the old door. My nose instantly flooded with the smell of flour, of past fires in the large bread oven, it warmed me from the inside. The room was dark and empty and cool with a wheelbarrow full of stray branches awaiting tomorrows relighting.
I love this room. I appreciate the long hours it takes to get the fire started, to empty the oven of all the red hot embers, the kneading of the bread in the petrin and the friendly faces who walk in.
Yesterday marked a day, it was one that lifted a huge boulder from my chest. It’s true, I’ve entered no relationships since moving to France but somehow calamity seems to follow me. From one who admitted feelings in a moment of weakness that I couldn’t reciprocate for many reasons to what was revealed yesterday…
For a while I had felt there were two who really didn’t like me and it broke my heart that somehow my ideas would always be rejected, I’d always come up short. Cheri told me it was likely an issue of jealousy of talent that made them feel small but I quickly dismissed it assuring her I’d had no opportunity to really prove myself and my feisty personality had hardly had a chance to escape because in French I find myself much quieter not wanting to lose my words mid heated sentence. So I let the situation pass, I said nothing and assumed I couldn’t make them like me and I felt I didn’t have the strength to prove much with no great support for my character here. It was sad… it frustrated me to great lengths so after two weeks away with family I returned with mixed emotions unsure of what the next while would look like and if I’d have a chance to really be seen as me, someone who does believe in the goals of this place, who wants to work hard but felt shoved down.
When I woke up I prayed silently that I couldn’t go on with things only my hands could produce, I needed to see advancement of some sort something I couldn’t make happen on my own.
Sitting down for breakfast I ate quatre-quarts with jam and a coffee and was interrupted by a co-worker asking me to look at the herb garden. I’ve wanted to get my hands in this garden since I arrived but I’d been told he needed to think, needed to do it on his own both by him and his girlfriend. I figured, again, it was some mutual dislike of me and so the frustration lingered for months. I sprung to my feet from the table at this request and walked outside and he told me to be at home out there, he’d almost packed his bags and left the day before and that he wanted me to take on the project because he didn’t have it in him to keep it going.
I was shocked and really thankful at the invitation. I silently thanked God that finally something had opened up.
About a half hour later he returned with a watering jug I needed for my own plot in Oliviers garden to get rid of nasty aphids and we walked and talked for a moment and finally it all came spilling out. His girlfriend had been jealous. A situation I never provoked, and had been completely unaware of. We hardly know each other because I’m at such an arms length but that he was never allowed to sit across the table from me, let alone work with me. It all started to make sense.
So while I never even so much as batted an eyelash or even had the remotest interest he explained that they saw I had lots of ideas, that I wanted to jump on things quickly but that I was, indeed, being purposely being cut off. While it hurt, it made me feel more at ease, able to say that no, I didn’t want to come between anyone and he said he wasn’t going to live like that anymore – I could take the garden, I could work the soil, plan the future of it and move ahead with things. If I needed help I could finally ask for it.
At long last I could enjoy the final season of my time here. I can garden, I can cook, I can clean, I can interact with everyone and I can sit in awe of this old four-a-pain and marvel at the ancient way of preparing and baking bread, over simple conversation where there’s no complexity of relationship and just easy company. I could probably sit in that room for hours, alone, and just think about life, about the beautiful scents that emanate from it, about hard work and entertaining others over a big meal. That is what gives me excitement in life, the simplicity of getting together with friends over food, of rolling down a hill, of harvesting my precious herbs and living in this house built a very long time ago. I thanked God again for bringing it all into the light. Maybe now I can breath easy, deeply and move forward