Monday, August 6, 2012

Bubble



It is Sunday morning. Remi has gone to the train station to pick up a friend from Paris who is in desperate need of sun. At my suggestion, he took Ben with him. Before the heat sets in, our dog will enjoy the ride and make fellow drivers smile from his post at the back of the car. I had a few small but crucial items to buy--coffee, toothpaste--the things that glue our going together. I turned without thinking down the alleyway that curves sinuously to the shops, a route I now take to avoid passing in front of the door of a friend that is no longer a friend, my feet padding along the cracked pavement in my espadrilles like the paws of a dog. And that is when I realize that is precisely the sound that is missing. It is odd to not have Ben near me, trotting along, looking up at me with an expectant grin, just as it was unusual to move through the apartment, straightening up, grabbing my keys, without the pull of Remi, the knowledge of him working in the other room, fed by so many pricks of the senses. The sound of a sneeze, fingers clicking on keys. Such is the life that we have chosen together that I am rarely alone. Everyday, around the clock, so close as to be enmeshed. As it is with Ben too, who is always present because we are always present. He stares at me for no reason, reeling in my attention. This is how I found my myself waking while walking, oddly conscious of the boundary of me moving forward on my own. Quiet so that I can hear my pulse and feel the air parting around my torso as if walking through waves or breathing out a bubble. Suspended for an hour or so. I can hear Remi's keys in the lock of the front door below. I turn my chin reflexively, in anticipation that the bubble will pop.

35 comments:

  1. Oh, it is incredibly strange, isn't it, Heather?----finding yourself alone in the house and suddenly realizing that you haven't actually been alone for months and months.

    I work exclusively at home, and I pass at least half of each month's days without laying eyes on another person. Herve comes home at night, of course, but he travels at least a third of each month. I should emphasize that this was even BEFORE we moved to the country this past month. The yard here, leading down to the road is bigger than my entire, previous property; so, I don't expect life will become more social on a daily basis).

    the fact is, I don't even notice being "alone", since I spend a great deal of each day (including Sundays....welcome to the "freedom" of not working for anyone else) communicating, in form or another, with clients, editors, and gallery folks. Both of my parents telephone at least once per day (don't worry...most often it's only for the three minutes it takes them to tell me I should get a television, so I could who's on Oprah this morning, etcetera). The upshot is that I scarcely feel isolated.....rather the irritating opposite, in fact.

    HOWEVER????.....

    True, disorienting weirdness overcomes me on those days (perhaps four times per year?) when I've said goodbye to Herve in the morning and then taken all the dogs down the road to their groomer (whom they adore; Herve refers to these exuberant jaunts as "going to see The Queen").

    I can't get anything done when the dogs and Herve are all gone. The goldfish, while very pretty, don't provide much in the way of company. In any case, I can't concentrate to write or draw; every three minutes, my concentration is interrupted by the sudden sensation that Something Is WRONG....rather like some mothers of small children who'll suddenly stop in alarm and think "It's TOO DAMN QUIET around here....what's wrong? what's going on?...."

    This past year, I've simply taken up the habit of going on errands and shopping when the dogs are gone. There's just no point in my trying to get any-work-whatsoever done when Herve AND the dogs are gone.

    I don't know what I'd do if Herve were travelling and the dogs had to stay overnight at the vet's. Given the number of dogs, that's a very unlikely coincidence, but, if it occurred, I suppose I'd simply have to ask the vet if I could stay overnight in the kennel.

    So much for my famed (I really do hear about it all the time, even from near-strangers) self-sufficiency.

    Level Best as Ever,
    David "The processor does not function without auxilliary units" Terry

    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. Of course there are people who wouldn't "count" our dogs as company but then we don't count them either do we David? I honestly think that I talk more to Ben than to anyone save Remi. And even then...And yes, I too always considered myself to be incredibly self-sufficient in terms of making my own company. Not any more.

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    2. Actually, there are several folks (whom I like a lot) whom I wouldn't know at all EXCEPT for the dogs. They're, finally, much more social and convivial than I am. One of my neighbors (a very charming and pretty, divorced empty-nester in her fifties, who's now living alone in one of the really big, old mansions) has taken up the habit of coming over every day (her large, formal gardens back onto this old house's enterprisingly INformal gardens) or so to "see her boys". The dogs adore her, of course (the female doesn't seem mind being mistaken for a "boy"). She brings them biscuits and talks fondly about her dog (a lab, I gather) which died a couple of years ago when the last of her sons went off to college. She'd get another dog, if she didn't travel so much. She's needlessly apologized for coming over so regularly; I've told her I enjoyed her visits and would, in fact, LEND her one of the dogs if she liked (my mother regularly did that with one or more of her sons when we were growing up).

      Similarly?....I love my mailman. He's a very sweet, latter middle-aged man who makes over the dogs and also brings them biscuits everyday (good thing they like biscuits). He was surprisingly and suddenly candid the other day....both of his dogs have died in the past two years, his wife has cancer, and he doesn't think he has the time to care for a new dog.

      In any case, I have two new friends solely because of the dogs, which is a pleasant thing to consider.

      Sincerely,

      david Terry

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    3. I was touched by both of these stories David. And yes, I have met friends because of Ben too. I think that how people behave towards him and his reaction often says quite a lot. More than all of the "how do you do's" in the world. Especially in France where folks tend to either be on one extreme of a slightly uncomfortable inducing "Oh my precious darling baby" or "this old thing?"...

      And so how wonderful that your puppers bring happiness. Just simple happiness. Sending some good energy to your postman and his wife. My goodness do we need to not take our health for granted. Or our loves. I don't think that either of us do.
      Hope that you have a good day and that the tomato coulis was a success...
      xo,
      H

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    4. Heather...I should emphasize that I hadn't laid eyes on either of these folks until this past month, when I moved here....and I seriously doubt that either is the sort to "open up" to near strangers...just as I seriously know that I'm scarcely the sort to inspire, or (for that matter) necessarily welcome, immediate, personal confidences).

      I'm glad that my dogs have acted as ambassadors of goodwill between me and these new friends.

      ---david

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    5. Good morning David,

      As am I. And it has been the case as well with Ben. He has helped bring people into our lives that we would never have met otherwise. It is wonderful. They inspire a trust that humans are seldom capable of doing.

      Enjoy your coffee,
      h

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  2. Funny you should write about being alone because I had the same experiance yesterday. I'm never alone and mainly because of Dylan he's always right there at my side waiting for who knows what. He's always with me too be it grabbing something at our local grocer or hardware store he's always with me. But the husband took Dylan on a joyride yesterday simply to make Dylan happy. He likes riding in our trucks with his head out the window catching the breeze. It's a weird feeling in the house not to hear some kind of noise even if it's Dylan walking across the floor. I don't mind being alone but when I am, since it's so rare, I really notice it. I need to learn to use the movie making part on my camera it seems fun.

    XX
    Debra~

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    1. It is so simple Debra! I don't have to do anything! I just use Quicktime to get it ready for the web (not sure how it is written in English but you'll see) and post it. Of course, I can probably get all fancy if I bothered but am happy just adding a little ambiance from time to time as is. And everyone would go crazy to see videos of Dylan Dog--you can trust me on that one!

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  3. This is a wonderful, poignant reflection of looking at oneself. i am never alone...at work, on the train, at home; husband, dogs, caretakers for my lother in law, kids in amd out 9evenghough they officially no longer live at home). my luxury; in the summer, swimming in peace, alone with my thoughts - in the winter, long hikes in the woods by myself.

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    1. It is so true Francine, in NY we aren't alone even though we might be. And how wonderful to swim. I am terrible at it! But love the peace it brings. For me, it is the part of the day that I do my yoga. I close the door even on Ben for that--otherwise he will come in and give me bisous during Shivasana!!

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  4. I feel this way when I escape to do a bit of shopping and I'm all alone in the car. I suddenly turn around, a bit panicked that I've left someone somewhere, before realizing it is just me, all by myself, plenty of air to breathe. Clementine never really leaves and so therefore, she's usually following and beckoning just like Ben even when all of the children are at school and P's at work. Because she's my first dog ever it is a strange feeling to think I used to not have this constant companion, laying at my feet, schlumping around behind me, laying a chin on my thigh.
    I hope you enjoyed your time alone. It makes the reunion so much sweeter.
    bisous,
    aidan

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    1. It is so true--and I actually thought of you after I hit publish. Both in terms of what it must be like when your three are home but also I saw first hand how tied together you and Clem are. So lovely. She may be your first but as we both know, she most likely won't be your last!

      And I love the end of your comment. Remi is on his way back from Grenoble and even after just a night apart, I am looking forward to seeing him so much...

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  5. Good Morning Heather

    The video is so beautiful and peaceful. The gentle movement of the curtains and the floor to ceiling windows are what dreams are made of.
    Your brief interlude on your own, on a Sunday morning, is cause for great reflection. Ben enriches your life, as does Spice Girl ours. What I find very odd is when I return and both Mike and Spice Girl are away for a day or possibly overnight once in a while and the silence and absence of life that prevails throughout the house is eerie. One knows immediately that they are the only heart beat in the entire space. I know, personally, at this stage in life, I cannot live without a dog.
    Thanks for sharing another view of your beautiful home

    Helen xx

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    1. Oh Helen, that is so beautifully put: "they are the only heart beat in the entire space." I will think back on that. And no, I can't imagine living without a dog either. I grew up with them but couldn't all of those years in Manhattan mainly just because I couldn't afford to keep one. Then when we were travelling non-stop, it was impossible. The first thing I demanded when our travels started to slow down was that we get a dog and it felt like such a relief, that missing piece of the puzzle that had been lost under the sofa cushions for too many years...
      bisous,
      h

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  6. Hello Heather:
    It is, perhaps, these times of isolation that make us acutely aware of the wonderful relationships that we are privileged to enjoy in life. And, when one has a life partner with whom one's life is inextricably linked in perfect unison, then one is indeed blessed.

    You have captured here so deliciously the feeling of deep contentment that comes from reflecting upon life in all its richness, of reaching into one's inner soul, with the luxury of time in which to be calm and silent and yet knowing that one's loved ones will return before too long.A perfect Sunday!

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    1. Thank you for this beautiful response my dear friends. You have left me speechless. Again. So lucky to know you, I know I sound like a broken record but it is true...
      Gros, gros bisous,
      Heather

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  7. Hi Heather,

    Came to you via Debra at Acquired Objects. Your video is wonderful! I love the breeze coming through, capturing one of those moments if life where you stand still and take it in... feeling thankful for all that we have. As crazy as our lives seem at times.. most of us wouldn't trade it for anything.

    leslie

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    1. Hooray Leslie! So happy that you stopped by and that I found your joyful blog because of it. Looks like we are two ladies who find a lot of good in the little bits, in the details...

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  8. Ah, how I know that feeling of needing to see the sun.
    What a beautiful piece of writing, I'm on my own so much of the time but I grew up as sort of only child ( 20 odd years between me and the next sibling) so I don't get lonely too often.

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    1. I think the difference between being lonely and alone is an important one to make! Like I have said, I spent so much of my "young adulthood" as they like to say here on my own that such time is just fine by me but...odd now that it is so seldom.
      Bisous, you really are a bombshell and I am still fuming at the unpleasant comments chez toi!

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  9. Ah, aloneness. The state of my workday, vacuous of husband, phone...solitary to look, listen, to create. Such is the state of the creation of art in my world...in that vacuous, empty, space...until I hear the key in the front door and the bubble does, indeed, break. Oops, back to the real world.
    Beautiful, Heather.
    xoxo, Chris

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    1. Ahh, of course you would identify with this Chris. Bisous...

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  10. I know that exact feeling. It's both wonderful and strange at the same time. So another guest? You have had a string of so many interesting visitors to Arles lately! But then who wouldn't want to come and see the three of you?! One day it'll be me, mon amie! xo

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    1. When ever you want, girlygirl, when ever you want...only 2 1/2 hours down from Paris en plus...

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  11. Your words are so very beautiful that they take my breath away.

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    1. Thank you Loree! I hope that you are having a better day today!
      Bisous,
      H

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  12. Sometimes I complain so loudly to my family that I never have any alone time….and then when I do…I miss them so very much! This was a beautiful, beautiful post! Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Thanks Carolyn--aren't we all funny that way? :)

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  13. Lovely blog,

    I find it enjoyable to be alone, although I miss my husband when he is away, which is about 12 days a month. If one can't be content with oneself, and enjoy our own company, how can we truly be ourselves and happy with others. Alone time forces one to look around and see who we really are.

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    1. First off, let me compliment you on your fine choice of moniker--I think "pokie" is one of the best I have heard, I love that! And yes, perfectly said. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the noise of busy to hear any sort of inner voice or direction. I think your situation is interesting--you get the best of both worlds in a sense...

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    2. My moniker was a last ditch effort since my name, Cheri, and all the names of my pets were taken. Oh well, c'est la vie. I do so enjoy reading your lovely blog, and yes, it is nice to have all that time alone, then have my husband return and renew our relationship. Funny thing, though, he's getting ready to retire soon, so it will certainly take some adjusting on my part as well as his. Oh to be in Provence.

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  14. Heather I loved reading your thoughts and the senses that you felt (and feel ) during times alone.

    Growing up in a huge family (the eldest of eight children; now widowed, I do love my own time and space. I know that marriage will be in the future; though with an understanding man who accepts my special Miss Belle. Of course he will have his space and we will put each other first!

    (Open to matchmaking0

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena
    2012 Artist Series

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    1. You are such a catch! I will have to think about the matchmaking idea!!!! A beauty inside and out, I know that you will meet someone when the time is right. And if someone doesn't love Miss Belle well then they are not the one!

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  15. Lovely meditation on solitude, Heather. Since I left my job last spring, I'm engaging in a whole new relationship with quiet. Right now, I can hear the keys clacking away on my laptop, the hum of the refrigerator, the slurp I take of my coffee. As soon as I finish typing this, I'll turn on the radio for company. It's interesting how aloneness changes the very texture of the world around us. Sometimes I love it. Other times I loath it. Perhaps the clacking of doggie toes on our wood floors would be just the thing to break the silence. XOXO

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    1. Arrggh!! Jeanne, I almost suggested your getting a dog not too long ago!! It just makes life grand. That's all I have to say about that. Pleeeease think about it!

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