Hello everyone, I am delighted to announce that I have my first guest post ever up today on the exceptional blog, From The Right Bank. Ally is one of those people with whom I just clicked. We share quite a bit in common--we are both nomads who have spent time living overseas and live for travel. She also has an insatiable curiosity (regarding more fields than her already encompassing blog can show) and appreciates putting her creativity to use wherever she can. It is a true thrill to have been asked to participate in her "Living La Belle Vie" series and I hope that you will enjoy it.
Thanks to all of your interest for the first in my Haunted posts. The photos continue below with an entirely different subject matter as I am really fascinated by the culture shift during my visit back to the States!
I stare at the photos of these old stones blinkingly. The quiet reverberating inwards, secrets held as tight as an embrace or a throttling, your choice. It couldn't be more different than my current environment.
I love the "joyful noise" of the United States. My fingers hover above the keys while I take in the sounds coming at me from all sides.
I am nowhere special. Just at a coffee shop during the lunch rush on any old Monday. So few people are alone. A Mom and son sit across from me, heads nodded together in complicity. A newish couple behind me flirting: "You're hi-lar-ious" he just punches out into the sky, drawing out the syllables until she smiles unwillingly. Just beyond two co-workers, one shy enough that she laughs into her palm with a "Woowoowoo" like a cartoon ghost, her companion reacts with a hair shake and a whinny.
I know that everyone can't be happy but it certainly seems that way. I love the volley of volume. The unselfconscious clink of silverware. Or even determined tapping of a silver spoon on the side of a mug in time as someone chases after lost thoughts. The staff enquiring earnestly "How are you doing today?" or "Do you have everything you need there?" without the least bit of cynicism. I had to do a double take.
Hands flutter in delicate gestures, drawing glasses to lips. "Do you want to try this? It's very good," I hear over and over again. As well as a chorus of polite "I'm sorry"'s at the pile up at the trash can. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Sheepishly.
It is President's Day (can you imagine a president's day in France where we don't even cheer for the current leader on Bastille Day as he parades down the Champs Élysées?) so there are families crowded around small tables pushed unevenly together. Little squeaks of asking followed by patient explaining. Hiccups of giggling.
It is now nearly 2 pm so the voices have lowered into a post-repas lullaby. Sentences no longer leap for my attention. I can feel a pull at my back and look behind to see a braided ten-year old using Ben's velvet painting eyes on me while sucking on a straw, immobilized. I wonder what it is that she sees in me or is she just lost in thought? Funnily enough, I find enough space around the sound. Wide-open spaces, like America.
My attention snaps back to the screen and these old stones are still there, in that haunted abandoned village far away. It must be night now with the time difference. No light but the stars, no sound but the wind.
How different, how unchanging. I will walk back soon to my Mom's apartment, wrapping my pashmina around my neck with each step, rearranging it while waiting at the light. I will most likely be the only person not driving as I was on the way here. I'll keep an eye out for the cardinal that lives in the tree outside her front door. Weeks from now, I'll remember the bell-ringing "all-righty"'s and "You have a nice day now" as I walk around the Roman Arena in silence, utter silence knowing one is not better than the next, just different and unchanging.