i woke up super early on wednesday morning feeling pretty sad and also discovering that aunt flo was indeed paying a visit to her itinerant niece! ah ha i thought maybe her imminent arrival was why i was feeling so overwhelmed by the whole petite histoire de frédéric. i had to pack up my hotel room and make some decisions about what to leave behind as i'd purchased so many tourist books and post cards....here's the reason why one should have a camera--digital memory takes up a whole bunch less room in a suitcase! now it comes clear. anyway, then i descended for breakfast and took care of my bill. the proprietaire was so nice and let me leave my bags there in the bar so i wouldn't have to deal with them all day. i loved this little funky hotel and hope to stay there again someday....or maybe i'll go to someplace more in the place plum'.....
breakfast and bills all done, i left for the office du tourisme and as i was headed down, i thought i'd go pick up my train ticket to make sure that was all taken care of which was a piece of cake and then i discovered an open pharmacie (thank goodness!) and got myself some friends for aunt flo (ok i'll stop). headed back to the office du tourisme, got into my bus for the day's adventures and who should i see coming across the place from the gare? frédéric! so i slid out from the bus and peeked out from the door and said hey! so we did the big bises and i told him how sad i'd been not to see him the night before. he said he'd been just too tired and i said yeah it was too bad that you didn't have my phone number (though he could have called the hotel.....). then i said you know i'm leaving tonight and he said well let's get together when you come back. so i said are you sure? and then we had big bises again and have a good days and i got in the bus and was on top of the world! seriously. i can't remember the last time i felt so incredibly happy. the day was beautiful, i'd found frédéric, we were going to see each other later on that day, and i was headed off for a huge day of visiting the most beautiful castles in the world!
so off we jaunted first to azay-le-rideau which is stupendously romantic and lovely. the grounds aren't especially fantastic but they are wooded and cool and beautiful nonetheless. the chateau sits in the middle of a lake and reflects itself in the water like a dream. it is really so gorgeous. and i was walking on pillows on air, just feeling the day and the sunlight and being happy. it feels so good.
then back in the bus to villandry which is another indescribably gorgeous place. i didn't go into the chateau because what's really amazing to see is the renaissance gardens which stretch hugely and lushly and ornamently as far as you can see. there are several different gardens with different themes: a water garden, a labyrinth with a little hut at the middle, a huge kitchen garden, a medical garden, plus a river that runs along the length of the whole property, drops down a couple of little waterfalls, creates the moat, and is full of carp who come up to the visitors and beg for bread. i wandered the gardens for an hour, listening to my ipod (frou frou is great for visiting renaissance castles), and dreaming a bit.
then we left there and went back to tours for lunch. i decided to run back up to the hotel and drop some stuff off and get lunch at la petit patrimoine another restaurant that frédéric had recommended so i went in, had a belle salade, and then as i was rushing down the street towards the office to get my afternoon bus to the next 3 châteaux, i ran into frédéric again! i nearly scrapped my tourist plans to see if i could hang out with him but knew i'd be sad if i didn't make the effort. so we walked towards the office together, talked a bit, did les bises and made another plan for later. even writing this a few days later i have to remind myself to breathe. man. this guy just grabs me in such a deep way. shit.
so i left this entry hours ago and went to a dinner party at some friends of benoit's and on our way over there walking in my beautiful and usually really dependable donald pliner platforms, i rolled my left foot (no joke) inside the shoe (fucking cobblestone sidewalks!) and sprained the ball of my foot. so i'm currently lying upside down in bed icing my poor swollen foot and feeling bluer than blue because what i was going to say earlier was that frédéric and i wound up meeting for that drink before i got on the train and it was awesome. i gave him a little notebook i'd bought for him at azay le rideau and he gave me a huge hug and a kiss and we just had such a good talk and time. and i just feel like there's something so sweet between us. i asked him if he thought he might like to come meet me in paris if he had a day off before i leave france and he got so excited and it seemed like it was really something he'd like to do. and i thought, wow, i might see him again even before i try to figure out how to get to senegal this winter and when he got up to leave, we exchanged a beautiful deep hug........and then while i was heading back to lille i wrote him a letter....and sent it. and of course it's several days later, well 2, and i haven't heard back from him.....so i feel like a total fuck up. like i blew whatever chance i might have had to actually get to know him better and now i have this fucking gimpy foot for the duration and sylvia's arriving tomorrow and we're heading into paris on monday and everything was going so well and now FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
you guys, if anyone's reading this, i need to know that i haven't totally screwed up. i need to think that there might be a man in the whole wide world who would get that letter from me (that i really slaved over because i wrote in the most careful and beautiful french that i could) and think: of course! she's wonderful and i should be with her! gah!!!!!!!
i know that all this will probably pass. and he may still even write me back or call me or whatever--he has every way possible known to human kind to contact me including my french mobile number. i know i shouldn't complain because i have been having the most amazing experience. and this is all part of it but damn. i'm still blue.
eta: i want to add a little bit about the afternoon of sightseeing before it all completely leaves my head.
after a really good lunch at la petit patrimoine ( a delicious salad with smoked fishes and melon) and the unexpected but sweet walk with frédéric towards the office du tourisme, the bus took us to chenonceau. now this place is pretty much one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen. the river, the chateau, the forest, the bridge of the chateau it's all so lovely and romantic and beautiful and elegant and i was so happy there. i walked the gallery over the river a couple of times. there was a really great exhibition of international art from unesco in the second story gallery that i really enjoyed including a beautiful poem by an arab poet whose name now escapes me. but some gorgeous paintings and installations and all of it in the most perfect setting. i had a moment where i was leaning out the window on the first floor gallery watching the cher flow along and the people boating and wandering in the gardens and dreaming, listening to frou frou on my ipod, and i really don't think i could have been happier if i'd tried. on the way back to the bus, i was able to have time to wander the gardens which as simply beautiful and i also found the labyrinth which i navigated pretty successfully finding the little hut at the center easily--this is an easy labyrinth than the one at villandry because the bushes are actually much shorter, creating a funny illusion that there are nothing but heads floating along through the maze. pretty cool to never have been in a labyrinth in my life and to get to be in two in one day.
after chenonceau we went to clos lucé which was leonardo da vinci's home the last 3 years of his life. this is an interesting experience because the house is still furnished and full of his things. very cool. the basement has reproductions of something like 40 of his inventions that ibm made using period materials so you can see what his genius was doing. it's kind of crazy actually to see the helicopter and the automobile and all kinds of other now fairly common things.....the most disturbing part for me though was seeing all the weaponry he'd designed. the fore runner to the machine gun and all sorts of cannon. that made me very uncomfortable....kind of like getting to be in the room with the einstein and seeing a model of a nuclear bomb. not a good place for me mentally. but still....the house is lovely and it's pretty cool to be in the same rooms he walked, ate, dressed, slept and died!
then we went to amboise which is just insane. it's built up on a high hill and is very fortressy. i spent a while attached to a tour group but got bored by the incessant history lesson that was going on next to a picture that showed the whole structure as it was during the renaissance. it was a whole walled fortress including the town of amboise and now it's more like just the castle part and the old simply stunning beautiful chappelle where da vinci is buried. i ducked out of the group and wandered on my own--ipod on. i really loved having my ipod along for this particular day. i could just listen and watch and it made it very private even though there are crowds on crowds at these places. by the end of the visit at this chateau, our tour group was finally doing a bit of bonding which was enjoyable. it was never as fun as the group from monday but it had it's moments nonetheless. i liked meeting this fellow called john who was a professor at hood college in baltimore in france to do research for a paper he was co-authoring on the abbey at saumor. he was very pleasant to talk to. and then it was back to tours.
i'd like to be able to add to this story that frédéric has been the amazing guy that i thought he was going to be, but my own innocence, naïveté, hopefulness, and belief in the goodness of others got me again. i really wish i could just let it all go and have my trip in tours be just as perfect as the châteaux i visited but the reality is that there will always be a little delightfully painful frisson when i think of tours and this amazing man i met there. someday though i'll go back with the man i love and i'll make it all be mine again.