The Age Of Innocence

We don’t hear anything out here.

There were air raid sirens this morning. I was in the shower.

“What do we do?” Apollonia asked.

“It’s probably just a test,” I said. It’s what I would have said in New York.

We don’t read the newspaper. I still can’t put together two French sentences. The way I read French is the way I read Latin. I read roots. Apollonia is better at French, but she gets her news from me. I get my news from London.

I remarked one day about how safe we were here. It’s like Frenchland at Walt Disney World. Everything is picturesque, just like it would be (or should be) in a real French ville. It all shuts down at dark, the shops at seven, the restaurants at ten. Everything is closed. There are shutters on all the windows. They’re always closed.

We’re getting fat here. We’ve tried to get up in the morning to go running, but it’s winter, even here, and it’s really hard to go running in the cold first thing in the morning. So we went running at midnight. We ran through the cobblestone alleyways, in the rain. We ran to the Palace of the Popes. We ran laps in the courtyard in front of the palaces.

Apollonia said someone was murdered here the other day. She said one time the girl from work was waiting for a bus when she was nearly pulled into a car by a man. A woman at the bus stop intervened, beating the man on the head with her purse.

France is in the center of Western Europe. It borders Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, and a little country called Andorra (which, I read, is populated by people with the highest life expectancy in the world). It is across the water from England. French was once the language of business, as English is now and Mandarin will someday be. All things move through France, the center of Christendom.

We get up late in the morning. We eat well, fresh green salads with ingredients grown around here, dressed in Spanish olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There’s nothing like just-baked bread dipped in olive oil. There are photos of polar bears stranded on icebergs that used to be glaciers. Double digits tally the car-bombed dead in Iraq each day. One day, America bombed Somalia. The American military wants to bomb Iran. Al Gore is the new Howard Dean. So is Barack Obama. The next president will not fix everything.

Africa, that fantasy land of my youth, is just south of us. Lions prowl the savannah. Thousands of humans are being destroyed by their brothers. We eat Christmas clementines. The London paper says they are harvested by slaves in the south of Italy. We buy Spanish clementines.

We watch an illegally downloaded copy of When The Levees Broke. We realize we should have gone down there to help. We are those kind of people. Bob Dylan, on his radio show, said the way to beat the winter blues is to help someone worse off than yourself. He said it so clear and true, it made more sense than anything I’d ever heard.

I don’t have the winter blues. We sat in the sunshine this afternoon. I ate a yellow plum, my first. It was delicious. We’re in Provençe the rest of the year, then we move on to bigger things, Apollonia to academia, me to its polar opposite, Hollywood.

Apollonia will help bring babies into the world. I will make art. Either we’re completely oblivious or we’re doing what we can to make it all better.


Cathy said…
You are making the most of your time in 'Disneyland a la France.' It is unfortunate that the reality of life intrudes on our happiness at times...weight gains, muggings. At least the environment is conducive to creative rantings and ramblings.

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