When I think of Provence, does Provence think of me?
A friend asked a version of that curling question a while back in the comments. I have needed to pose it, inwardly, for necessities sake over and over these past few weeks. And while I am humble enough to know what the only possible answer lying embedded within 2500 years of history could be - a booming God-like "Non" - there are held-tight images glowing strong, still.
I am in Arles and it is the after dinner dog walk. A simple, everyday affair. Ben, Kipling and I are at the Arena but my mind is elsewhere. Unthinkingly, I reach out my hand to the grooves in the columns put into deep relief by the sun, another day done. My eyes flick toward Ben, off-leash and rounding the bend up ahead. Kipling gives a slight tug and continuing on, padding feet quietly with my arm extended, I run my hands across the stone from arch to arch and in so doing touch time without a care.
This is a memory that I have replayed a hundred times during the past eight months. I don't even know if the moment ever actually existed. It doesn't matter finally.
As I turn in mind's eye towards those distant crossroads yet again, I try, repeatedly, to explain what hold Provence has on me and this is as close as I can come. I have often leaned on the word "Beauty" - even as an all encompassing filler for when the heart is searching; this blog was named "Lost in Arles" for a reason as I have often said. But there is a deeper sense. "History" nor "Culture" do justice either but rather a nameless sensibility that somehow gathers a yawning insouciant freedom wrestling with the stark shadows of fortified walls (or closed minds), searing heat pushing against a winter Mistral and the possibilities that the Rhône rolls in, brightly reflected with a Van Gogh lilt.
I can't ever go back to the life that I had as it doesn't exist anymore, I know that now. I accept.
But what new one awaits for me? And where? Our persona sands off with times passage just like the patina in the stone that I am thinking of today. At least mine does. Cats with nine lives and all that. Yet, there is so much that stands. I tend to forget that part. Do I listen to my heart or my head? Will the words somehow meet in the middle at my throat, allowing me to find the words to speak?
Fingers reach to touch, to touch...the air and are left grasping. There is a known unknown waiting and it will be just for me. If Provence ever does think of me, at least it just might admire the willingness, the asking.
Admittedly, I am especially emotional today. These words were like fishes wriggling through my fingers. There is a very rare Black New Moon tonight and it is a time of planting seeds for the coming six months. And if I don't know what those seeds are? If I have no idea? I am often scared of the blank page awaiting me but tonight I will try to place my trust in the hole where the moon should be.