Seashells in Normandy

My trip thus far has been one of deep introspection. It was supposed to be a writing retreat, but as is usually the case in life, the universe had other plans for me. Seems that life needed to teach me a lesson again, and this time I had to deal with it relatively alone. Certainly dear friends, some old and others new, help me talk through my endless questions, worries, doubts, and what-ifs, but my primary source of support is on the other side of the planet. Add to that the limited cell service in the mountains of California, where my husband is, and the sporadic Internet where I am in Europe…and yes, I feel quite alone.

Two days before I left for my trip I thought I was embarking on an adventure of romance, both on paper and in life. I was blissfully in love. I was to write a new steampunk romance and hopefully meet my lover. But said lover ended our affair on the eve of my journey. Nice timing.

So now, I can’t write.
I can’t create.
I can only think and think and cry and think.
I wander from place to place, talking with anyone who will listen. Trying to figure out what went wrong. What I could’ve done differently. Rationalizing away the pain for another day by holding onto a hope of reconciliation. Then vacillating to the polar opposite and the tears come. Back and forth.

Today I walked on the beach of Normandy. A cool wind chilling my flesh as I stood just at the seaside, looking down at the broken seashells, each one representing a life lost. As each wave washed over my bare feet, I thought of him just on the other side of the channel. Then with each ebb of the water, pushed him from my thoughts.

Over and over.
To and fro.
Ebb and flow.
Back and forth.

This torment consumes me.

And yet I try to write.
And yet I try to read.
And yet I try to forget.
And yet, I cannot.

And yet I go through the motions of the day, filling it with too many cigarettes. Looking for a way to push the inevitable pain away for another few minutes, another day. I hold onto hope because I’m terrified of the chasm that will follow the acceptance that it’s truly over.

I hold onto hope so I don’t feel like a fool, but perhaps by holding onto hope I only prove that I am a fool.

I search for solace in others. And find none.
I search for peace within. And find none.
I search for the quiet that the darkness brings. But the light burns my eyes.
I search for the numbness of sleep. But there are far too many sleepless hours.

The beauty of France surrounds me. Glorious fireworks over the beach of Cabourg, like golden flakes lighting the night sky. Sounds of a marching band filling the streets in a celebration of life. Twelfth century cathedrals with their now faceless gargoyles looming overhead. Rolling green hills made more vibrant by the rain and grey skies. A line of people painting a seaside view, although looking at the same scene, each of their creations are unique. Narrow streets flanked with my beloved Tudor architecture, as if walking through a Disney Fairytale world. Ruins of rich history, like where Joan D’arc was martyred. Caen. Cabourg. Honfleur. Rouen. Scantily clad families braving the chill winds to enjoy a sunny afternoon on the beach. Children laughing while they ride a tiny carousel from the Nineteeth Century. Cobblestone streets filled with bustling life. Endless cafés where I sit with a friend to share a coffee and a smoke, talking about life, love, and art.

And I would trade it all just to see him smile at me.

The succulent French food delights my tongue. Rich, fresh pain au chocolat with a hot cup of coffee in the mornings. Fresh baguettes and smelly cheese. Rhubarb yogurt. Crème brûlée. Fresh vegetables from my host’s garden, cooked up just to honor my vegetarian diet. Mozzarella tomate. A Nutella crêpe. Marguerite pizza at a Brasserie that you’re expected to eat in one sitting…and you do. More bread. And, of course, more cheese. Camembert. Chevre. Livarot. Clinking wine glasses and wishing each other Bon Appetit. Enjoying a glass of Kir Mûr with a friend as the sun sets and the air grows cooler.

And I would trade it all for one more kiss.

And so. I continue on. Filling the days with talk and smoke and never-ending thoughts. Pushing away the tears. Hoping for a miracle.

And so. I continue to put the pain off for another day, knowing it is inevitable. Like death.

It will come, but not today.

Today I hope.
Today I dream.
Today I live.

~ by omgrey on July 24, 2011.

5 Responses to “Seashells in Normandy”

  1. Thank you for writing this introspective piece I have had a similar experience and it seems they always happen when you’re embarking journey or expecting something special. Suddenly you’re “sideswiped.” We are bombarded with companies pushing ‘pain’ medications so that we begin to think it’s something to escape. Yet pain is also associated with healing, rapid growth, even training like preparing for a marathon. Your next book could be your best because this person ‘got out of your way.’ I hope you get some pleasure out of your trip. Beau Voyage.

    • Merci! Your comment means a lot to me. I am enjoying my trip the best I can, and I’ve actually been able to write a bit this morning. Hopefully the inspiration continues. Peace.

  2. Well, you certainly can write. Quite clearly you’re writing in this blog and expressing yourself vividly. Maybe it isn’t exactly the sort of thing you’d planned to write, but you are writing.

    Writing is also good therapy. You’ve got a charge of unexpected emotion that needs to be expressed. Here you’ve started expressing some of it as text. Perhaps you should start writing your romance anyway? After all, not all romances end well. Heartbreak is as much of a romantic theme as falling in love.

    I hope you find your way out of your funk and can find your way to enjoying the rest of your trip.


    • Yes, Doc. I obviously wrote this blog. Thanks for the reminder. And I have started the romance, two scenes in three weeks. About 1600 words. However, my norm is 5,000 words a day. I should have had a 60,000 word rough draft by now. Although the story I was going to write is no longer possible, so I’m shifting focus. No doubt I’ll get it done, heartbreak included.

  3. […] hoping that he meant it when he said he was determined to make things work…Paris. Normandy. London. Weeks of tears and questions and the inability to do anything, write, read, or even watch […]

Please Share Your Thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: