“A period of pause, healing or recovery. Limits must be drawn. A compromise or temporary truce.” Steve Lucas via Japaridze Tarot
Selene hurriedly made her way down the stone steps that led in and out of her flat. Giuseppe and the young man had made their way closer to Selene and had stopped to buy produce in a nearby stand. Behind the selection of fruit and vegetables, stood an old woman, whom seemed to recognize Giuseppe. “Well, hello there. You’ve returned! Whom is this that accompanies you?” As he pointed to the young man, Selene hurried towards the tent and interrupted the scene. “Guiseppe!” She said with short breath. “I need recommendations for places to see in the mountains. I woke up with a strange urge to visit them.” Giuseppe smiled and Selene and responded, “Perfect timing. Selene, Ms. Laguerre, please meet Tristán.” The young man focused his gaze in the two women before him and nodded his head, “A pleasure to meet you both.” Giuseppe looked at his watch. “Well Ms. Laguerre, time is of the essence, what do you say I take some onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. The day calls for some ratatouille.” Giuseppe, Selene, and Tristán bid Ms. Laguerre farewell and walked in the direction of Selene’s flat. “Selene, why don’t you join us for lunch today?” Giuseppe asked. Selene gleefully agreed. “Follow us.”
As all three made their way to Giuseppe’s home, they spoke of the beauty of the day – a shining sun, a gentle breeze, the energy of camaraderie. Giuseppe’s home was a beautiful two-story créme-colored square house with a terra cotta roof. Much like his bookstore, both floors were lined with long glass windows. The top floor windows were adorned by column-like ceramics reaching about a third of the height of the glass. The stone staircase from the top floor was decorated by green foliage leading down to a pool. The oval-shaped pool was lined with salmon colored ceramic tiles and beyond were adornments of trees and lush green plants. Overlooking the pool, was a picturesque view of the french countryside – simply sublime. “Well, I think it’s time we start to make this meal. I’m starving. What do you say we go inside?” They entered the house from one of the sliding glass doors near the pool. To the right, there was a staircase leading to the second floor. The floor was adorned with sunset colored tiles. A large plant was placed next to the television, which was diagonally across a grey and white couch. Next to the couch, there stood a structure, which served as both a fireplace and chimney. “That fireplace is more than welcomed during the cooler month of January.” Said Giuseppe. They continued on to the kitchen, which was surrounded by an island-bar with three stools. “Ah, we have arrived. I’ll show you the rest of my home later. For now, let’s get to cooking.”
With joy, Giuseppe took out his pots, pans, and cutlery. He washed his hands as he hummed a tune and prepared his vegetables to be washed. Giuseppe grabbed the necessary spices and olive oil and set them on the counter. As he continued cooking he spoke to Selene, “Selene, I apologize for not addressing your question earlier my dear. You had mentioned something about your desire to see the mountains.” Selene’s eyes lit up. As the day had taken a detour, she had forgotten all about the mountains. “Ah yes, Giuseppe. Do you know of any views I might enjoy?” Giuseppe spoke to Tristán in French. “Tristán here was born in Nice. He spent a good portion of his youth in the mountains. He might be able to show you the best overlooks far better than I or any other book might. Tristán here will be managing the bookstore while I go visit my brother. I was sick worried this morning. I had made arrangements to go visit my brother, but had been unable to find someone I fully trust to look after my store. Just like that, I made my way to the market and found Tristán. I was startled as he was living in Sydney for the past year. Turns out that he’ll be in Nice over the next three months! I swear luck always has a way of finding me. I offered Trsitán his first job at the bookstore at the age of 16.” Selene shyly looked over to Tristán, whom smiled. Tristán was a tall, lean male with olive skin, dark hair, dark features, and a majestic smile. With an accent, he spoke to Selene, “What do you say we explore a light trail this afternoon?” Selene nodded, “That would be lovely.”
The aroma of ratatouille overtook Giuseppe’s home. The smell of coriander, basil, oregano, and thyme warmed up the scene graciously. “I think it’s ready to be served.” Giuseppe served three plates with garlic bread accompanied by a glass of 2001 Bodega Palacio Rioja Gloriosio Crianza wine. The shared meal made Selene think of the family she had lived with while she resided in Madrid. She wondered how they were, what they were up to, how life had changed since the 7 years she had lived in their home. After two hours shared in fraternity, Giuseppe excused himself, “I want to thank you both for your inspiring company. Life calls. I must attend to my brother. I’ll be leaving in the evening. I’ll leave you two to find your way out.” Selene and Tristán thanked Giuseppe for his time and generosity and exited the same door they entered.
“How do you know Giuseppe?” Tristán asked Selene as they walked away from the extraordinary home. Selene chuckled, “I met him yesterday. I arrived from Brazil two days ago. My friends and I chose to meet in Nice this year. They’ll be arriving in a few days. I decided to arrive earlier to explore the area. It’s my first time in France. Yesterday, I woke up and came across Giuseppe’s bookstore. I walked in not realizing that it was set to close. Giuseppe and I began to talk and eventually ended up in the art room. He told me of his travels, he showed me his painting, and I think he painted one of me!” Tristán laughed. “Ah – sounds like Giuseppe hasn’t changed one bit. He particularly enjoys talking to travelers. I think it helps him relive those days. Let’s find a taxi – there’s a short trail called Sentier du Vinagrier in East Nice that runs through Parc du Vinagrier. I think you’d enjoy it.” Selene and Tristán called a taxi and were on their way. They shared a silent taxi ride. Selene looked out the window contemplating the beauty in the variety of homes, people, and interactions she swiftly witnessed from the back view of a car. Upon arriving, Tristán insisted on paying and bid the driver adieu.
As they made their way up the trail, Selene’s focus solely remained on the beauty of the residences lined alone the Baie de Agnes. A sea of terra cotta sitting along a bay of angels. Not long after, Selene and Tristán found themselves at the peak point, where they stood and marveled at what lay before them. “It never gets old – this view.” Tristán said. Selene looked at Tristán whom was staring at the distance with the look that only one whom has truly learned to love can give. The look that is only born after passion for a place or thing has subsided. “I used to come here every Sunday as a kid. It was a way to escape my everyday reality.” Tristán sat on the floor beneath a tree, closed his eyes, and felt the breeze. The white long-sleeved shirt under his brown vest responded to the gentle wind with a ruffle. He then opened his eyes and asked Selene, “Do you ever crave slowing down, but find yourself pulled by curiosity, by all the novel things you have yet to encounter?” Selene nodded. Both spoke of the paradoxes, the push-and-pull, the creative tension that riddled their life with drive, with signification. As the sun began to set, they both stood up from the tree. “I think it’s time we head back down – before it gets to dark.”