You are leaving the Irish farm today. Heading to the airport, flying to Carcassonne in the south of France. Apparently it’s a little medieval city, so that will be nice to explore. You have absolutely no plans for accommodation, so you figure you’ll pitch a tent. The next morning, you’ll take a train to Nimes, hoof around that city for a while, then a train to Ales. From Ales, a bus to the little village of Les Vans, where you will have to camp another night before meeting your French hostess.
Should be interesting, since you can’t understand a word of spoken French unless the orator speaks LOUDLY and s.l.o.w.l.y. You have also been informed that the southern French accent is rather different from the French you have learned–so much that Parisians have a hard time understanding southern French. Wonderful.
You should also note that you are NOTORIOUSLY bad at taking buses and trains without ample losses of time. This is why you have given yourself two days to find your way to Les Vans. There will be a lot of time to kill.
Yesteday was you last full day on the farm, and you woke up with a very sore knee. Very sore. When you bit it in the woods and pulled a ligament, you continued to train on it for about a week. Now suddenly is hurts like all hell. You should not forget that Edouard called across the room at you a couple days ago at three in the morning, ”Maria, stop scratching your leg!” You were at it again, tearing feverishly at your left shin, going for all the nettle stings, as well as the blister from where you burned yourself with hot wax. Scratching, scratching, scratching… like a year ago, in your sleep, nearly to the point of drawing blood. Couple this event with the fact that once again your are working in bacteria-rich soil, and you’re practically replicating the circumstances of your septic knee infection. So, yesterday, after working on a sore knee for about an hour and noting the accelerating level of pain and heat around the joint of your injured knee, you immediately fell victim to a paralyzing anxiety attack. Marlene and Jane swept in to rescue you, sliding homeopathy pills under your tongue and mixing tonics for you to sip on. Marlene also sat on the couch with you, hand cupped over your knee, channeling her healing energy into it. What you thought would last maybe 3-5 minutes (a very long time to pass in silence) turned into an hour and twenty-five minutes. Her hand, she said, was just sort of sucked onto the hurt, and my knee would not release her. So there you were, leg elevated and under Marlene’s hand, trying to control your emotions the whole time. Marlene, who also happens to be a psychoanalyst, made a few comments about her perceptions of you, your troubles… this served to exacerbate your emotional condition. You would prefer to be invisible.
Marlene said from what little she knows about you, it sounds like you have lived a lot of life in only a few years, and a great deal of that life has been wrought with challenges and disappointments. You have learned to rely only on yourself and to portray yourself as very stong–very tough–on the outside. But despite your magnified appearance of self-sufficiency, you are foundationless. Not externally, but internally foundationless. She hit the nail on the head. There is nothing–no desire, no drive, no opinion of yours–that you can rely on. Your mind is ever changing, week to week, day to day, hour to… fuck, minute to minute. You are rendered aimless and foundationless with nothing for which to strive. Furthermore, you fear creating a foundation for youself, lest you change your mind again–instantaneously–and unravel everything you had wove together. You have thereby ”committed” yourself to a meaningless existence; spiritual suicide.
All this, on the couch… information overload and a throbbing knee. What a happy coincidence that this was the day before your departure for France, where you will have no safety net. As Ben (Marlene’s brother) would have said to you, you were trying to take yourself out–that you desired this condition. Ok Ben, maybe that might be true, but you definitely didn’t feel like that. You are not particularly nervous about France. Definitely sad to leave the family in Ireland, but certainly ready to move on.
That, sadly, was the whole of your last day; it was a day spent trying to cope with anxiety. Your throat clamped down on itself painfully, making the swallowing of the tonics challenging; your head felt like it was in a vice grip. Be careful when you scratch a bug bite.
Many thanks to everyone you have met in Ireland so far:
-Eoin, for his hospitality and for being an absolute gentleman–also, for introducing you to the Ad Busters publication–aka–intellectual porn.
-Aoife, for the hours of conversation, for her friendliness and willingess to welcome a stranger into her new home, and for enlightening me about the Irish self-tanning craze.
-Phil, for the long hours of story swapping, the sniffer of K, and showing me Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas–twice… on mute.
-Marlene, for her last-minute invite to the farm, where I immediately fell in love with the house, family, and scenery. For her warmth and enthusiasm, and relaxed (though occasionally high-stress) matriarchal manner. And, jesus, for her yogurt sauce, soups, and out-of-this-world bread.
-Douglas, for spending several long evenings with me while Marlene was away, inducing me to bake batches of bickies. For his easy-going nature, jokes, and occasional slags. Oh yes, and thanks again for showing you Victoria’s Way.
-Jane, for occasionally being your mom (sometimes you need one), and for yelling sense back into you every time you hurt yourself. More importantly, thanks for making a habit of idling in the house to talk to you, always perched in the doorway, ”about” to leave, but upholding hours of coversation with you about philosophy, language, sex, parties, what-have-you. Not sorry at all for embarrassing you in front of your mom about the word ”rimming.” Remember, it’s more pleasurable in a clockwise direction when in the northern hempisphere.
-Deaclan, for appreciating your superhuman stength, and for finding you particularly funny on occasion. You always feel better when someone laughs and a pivotal moment.
-Joshua, for being your Little Man. You’ll always be Your Maria.
-Niel, for showing you the BME Pain Olympics. Enough said.
-Soma, for outmatching you, and helping you understand your limits.
-Q, for the hours of explanation and debate.
-Steve, for the bewildering information.
-Edouard, for his wry sense of humor and for being your working buddy on the farm. Also, but not really, for scaring the bejesus out of you in the middle of every night, when you try to sneak past him to use the toilet and he calls from his dark corner, ”Going to the bathroom again!? Good luck!”
-Amelie, for her sweet tooth and appreciation for the game Kings. NEVER PLAY FOUR TIMES IN A ROW. Also, for having seen every movie you ever referenced.
-Stephanie, for her adorable smile and rolling of the eyes, and for all those awkward moments when you were alone together, she with her very limited English, and you with your very limited French–trying to communicate a task.
-Astried and Karen, for being kick ass, quite simply. Good times playing taboo, cards, and walking for hours.
-Simon, for the good vibes. Great talk you had on the long walk.
-Angus, for all the weird nick names and for the HILARIOUS stories.