Monday, September 25, 2006


D. and I were in rural Normandy until a few days ago. I planned to fly back to New York to work for a while, but I was less than enthusiastic about enduring another long separation from him. We were outside a tiny village where his beautiful eighteenth century house, a former barn that’s only partly renovated, is. It sounds very romantic and luxurious. In truth it was a rugged, pastoral existence camping out in the middle of cows, mud, and very large spiders. The barn is surrounded by massive fields of corn and mysterious-looking green things. It’s pitch black at night, no familiar streetlights illuminating the world. The silence, broken only by unidentified rustling, is eerie to me. I’m such a city girl, and when I hear countryside noises I’m scared and feel like I’m at Camp Crystal Lake. No car alarms or horns, no screaming fire engines. We rarely see any other people unless we drive to the nearby village, and then everyone commences staring at these two rare, foreign creatures. Several times I had the urge to slap a couple of people upside the head in the grocery store because they gaped openly, but then I reached deep inside to retrieve my fondness for Le Pen-leaning French farmers.

Obviously a wifi connection is out of the question. I had withdrawal symptoms without my computer crack. The nearest cybercafe was half an hour’s drive away. In fact, I just wrote everything in Word and dropped it into the blog when I got to Antwerp and the beloved, ubiquitous internet.

D. was furiously working on the barn and indulging in all sorts of hard physical labor. Machetes, tractors, unnamed tools. When he wasn’t sweating, he was dealing with sneaky real estate agents to put the whole shebang on the market.* I just listened intently, trying not to smile all the time (which, I hear, is a typical American failing). My French is still in its Me Talk Pretty One Day stage with a 10-second delay to boot, but at least listening to Normandy FM and watching French tv helped my comprehension.

During the nearly two weeks in the country we revised our plans again. A Danish sailing friend from Horta invited us to live on his big yacht, so we’re going there for a few months before we move to Paris. We can work there and replenish the rapidly depleting funds. He even has a group of friends who are artists – great news for D. It sounds crazy to keep changing our plans but after thinking it over we decided we’d never get such a chance again, Within a couple of weeks I’ll be living in Denmark! Now I just have to find my winter clothes, although it’s not as frigid as people think. The weather is on par with London’s or Amsterdam’s. I can handle that.

*Does anyone want to buy a giant, completely underpriced property that needs much love and renovation but will be stunning if you have the time to put into it? Get in touch...

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