Tell me what you wished for...
Sometimes the way that seasons go by here, so distinctly, makes it feel as if more time has passed than really has.
A long time ago… back in July… I wandered around a tiny French village for an evening. After a glass or two of cool rosé wine, freshly bottled from the vineyard next to us, we found ourselves crossing through fields, between trees and across another vineyard to follow the sounds of a live band. A little later, we meandered down slim cobblestone streets, underneath stone archways, and up narrow winding stairways. Women in nightgowns called out “bonne soirée!” from their doorstep. Old men sat tucked into tiny tables outside a humble little neighborhood restaurant, laughing loudly and slowly emptying wineglasses. Some broken French got us access to a bakery just as they were closing, and as we sat on a bench under the stars, eating our tarts, a woman passed by and offered up a cheery “bon appétit!” We again followed the sound of music, this time just a guitar and a couple voices, creeping around crumbling apartment walls and through an ivy-covered garden. There we spotted them… some jovial French locals, sitting on a patio overlooking the humble lights of the village and the silhouette of the mountain plateau guarding the valley. Singing and laughing, easily and happily, as if they just happened to do this every day, and not simply to charm us foreign eavesdroppers into thinking we’d stumbled across the most authentic and charming scene we’d ever seen.
We came to a fountain on the corner of one of those cobblestone roads. Small and quietly bubbling it sat, with clear and clean water. We stood there for a moment, in awe of the setting and the evening. This was the kind of night that inspires a novel, a song, or at least decades of retelling. That you could write about and to others, it would maybe seem made up. I dug in my purse, fishing for the thing that would make the moment complete. A coin. I wanted to make a wish, because when you’re in southern Europe and come across a fountain, that’s what you do, and it had been 9 years since I last had the chance.
It actually felt a bit odd to make a wish in that moment. What more could one ask for? But I pressed the coin tightly in my fist, then tossed it into the water. “We’re not supposed to say what we wished for, right?” I shook my head no to answer, with a wide smile.
But I want to say it now. I wished for love. Just like that…”I wish for love.” I think I actually played it safe, I didn’t want to define what kind or name a name, because that felt too daring. I threw it in and hoped that the wish would know what to make of itself. And I’m telling you now because in the last few weeks, I've realized that the wish came true.
When I look back at this autumn at what I’ve experienced and felt, it is very real to me that I have never in my entire life had more love. I didn’t realize this fact before this autumn, as the way the season has unfolded has made it evident that various fears of mine are unfounded… those about friends in Sweden seeing me as only a second tier friend because I am foreign or came around after other friends, about friends from California forgetting about me, about what I have left even when it seems like nothing is going right. There is so much love in my life, and it is strong and overwhelming, and not reliant on one primary source. Who knows what the coin imagined as it hit the water that evening in France, but as that Swedish krona lay there, and I flew away back to the north, the wish took the right shape for this season of my life.
Love, in the autumn that I turned 30, looks like friends and family who are generous to me beyond their means, who give me more than I can give, and know me well enough to know how to both care for and delight me. It looks like the expressions on my friends’ faces, expectantly awaiting my delight, when they took off my blindfold after kidnapping me and ferrying me off to a birthday trip, all of them knowing that this costume party on an island in the archipelago was my ideal type of party. It looks like lengthy emails from friends in Brooklyn, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, telling me that they love and miss and support me, and understand the ups and downs. It looks like being the first one a friend here calls when they have amazing life news, or frustrating romance news. It looks like the dozens of mail pieces from my mom, sending me concrete evidence of caring across the world. It looks like when these “new” friends here, many of whom I’ve known for two years now, say, accurately, “that’s so you, Corinne”… like when I wondered aloud at how strange I was for carrying a broken paper crayfish party hat in my hand for hours, throughout a dinner, danceparty and clubbing the night before, and L said, “But of course you did, that’s so you… sentimental no matter what.”
Here, I am known. Here, I am loved. Here in the geographic sense and in the season of life sense. Standing in a totally different place than I thought I would be when I tossed that coin, but surely happier than ever.
P.S. I had a friend look into the language above the fountain, as you can see in the photo. I guessed that it was Provençal, and it is, and it translates to: "Without the sun, one is nothing." I used to agree... but Sweden has taught me otherwise.