“The correct path. Trust and confidence. Resolution. Recovery from a difficult period.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot
“Cierra los ojos, respira mas hondo. Danza el dolor, con todo tu amor. Sin miedo a caer.” Suddenly, she found herself on a beach front. It was a dark night decorated with a brightly lit sky. In the heavens, there were four moons, clouds hatched painted with hints of pink, green, blue, yellow, and pockets of darkness; a diamond rain shower, stars in the distant background. The beach was lined with white sand, pockets of a luminescent blue, and rocky black patches – blending with the heavens into the horizon. Before her eyes, there lay a rock split in two, which appeared to magnetically support her gravity-defying white-rock bed. On the white-rock bed, she could see herself from the back, unclothed, looking into the far-flung heavenly background, where the sea and the sky meet. Her hair, of extreme long length, a series of dark royal blue waves contrasted with dark seafoam green locks, garnished with small sparkling starry orbs. At the end of it’s length, there was a hanging bat. Both her hair and the bat attached to her hair, dripped water into a small iridescent blue whirlpool. Suddenly, Cirque du Soleil’s Cierra Los Ojos began to play. It was Selene’s alarm clock tune. Her phone’s graphic interface displayed three characters: 7AM. The day had arrived when all of her friends, four of them to be exact, were to arrive to Nice for their yearly reunion. After Selene had decided to leave her graduate work in pursuit of travel, it had become a yearly tradition to meet with her friends somewhere in the world. As she got off her bed to go greet her friends at the airport, bits and pieces of her beautiful dream made their way into her conscious knowing. “I barely remember my dreams. What an ethereal scene that was last night. I wonder what meaning I’ll give it.”
Less than an hour later, Selene was en route to Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport to meet three of her friends, all three whom were flying in from New York. On the way, she was overcome with a sudden sadness as she thought of Giuseppe, Tristán, Ms. Laguerre, and the parallel universe she had momentarily joined the previous days. She got lost reliving memories of the bookstore, the market, Giuseppe’s home, the parks, cafe Chez Pauline and felt a bout of relief as she realized her memories would always belong to her. As her driver approached the airport Selene’s greatest internal struggle arose to the surface – the desire for both the familiar and the novel. While she had no regrets of leaving her life in pursuit for her greatest desire, there were pockets in time where she wondered what life would have been if she had tethered to the familiar with occasional romances with the unknown. “Selene!” Sofia, Caer, and Dmitri ran towards her with intense excitement. Selene had met all three of them upon her arrival in New York for graduate school. She had met Sofia in grad school, Caer at a local aerial arts studio, and Dmitri on a random night out.
“Let’s walk to the Promenade des Anglais to catch a bus. We’re looking for bus #23 so then we can get to our flat in Libération.” Caer asserted. Selene had met Caer in a aerial silks class in the city. She was an editor by day and an aerial silks instructor by night. Caer, originally from Buenos Aires, had spent her summers working in Nice for a family that owned a property in Cap d’Ali where they were going to spend the night. After dropping off their suitcases in the flat, they walked to the Marche de la Liberation to get swordfish, olives, barley, tomatoes, onions, lemons, thyme, and bell peppers – they had decided that the day called for Broiled Swordfish à la niçoise – well, Dmitri had decided. Shortly afterwards, they found themselves in a private car the owners of the Cap d’Ali had arranged as it was about an hour drive away from Libération. With their fish and produce they closed the doors, buckled themselves down, and dozed off for the ride.
They arrived at a breathtaking multi-tiered, white painted villa overlooking the ocean. The villa entrance was bridged with a crisp white staircase surrounded by a stone fence topped with primly manicured green bushes. As they walked up the stair case, they were greeted by a wide-tall door leading into the property, a dreamscape world. Prior to entering, Selene, Sofia, and Dmitri marveled at the beauty of the work of art before them as Caer chatted with the owners, her former employers, Monsieur and Madame Flaubert. From their perspective, the second tier of the palace-like property was covered in white siding with three windows adorned with Juliette balconies. Flying buttresses seamlessly lifted onto a balcony lined with columns making space for the third and fourth tiers. The topping cherry of the delectable piece of architecture was a tower, accompanied by a veranda that enclosed the roof. In the background a variety of palm trees and other magical greenery accentuated the beauty of the work of art before them. “Oh Caer, my dear. Please introduce us to your friends! We’re delighted to host you all for the night.” Said Madame Flaurbert. “This is Selene, the explorer I told you about. This right here is Sofia, she’s a clinical psychology graduate student in New York City. And lastly, we have Dmitri, the chef whom graciously offered to make our meal for the night.” “A pleasure to meet you all. Well, let’s get you situated.”
The Flaubert’s walked them through their property with two lounges, a dining room, seven bedrooms with an accompanying bathroom (each), two kitchens, among multiple other rooms and fixtures. They escorted each to their bedrooms and asked them to meet down in the patio of the house. “Follow the feeling of a breeze, my dear. You’ll find the balcony.” Madame Flaubert told Selene. Soon thereafter, they found themselves in a patio, looking down into a rectangle-shaped narrow pool with a half-moon finish on one end. Beyond the pool lay the serene Mediterranean Sea. The sun gleaming into particular pockets as if they held the secrets to the world’s greatest treasures. As they stared into the Mediterranean beauty, they drank rosé, the Flaurbert’s favorite rosé. “We’ve spent our entire lives learning the wise ways that this view has to offer.” Stated Monsieur Flaubert. “It’s inspired me to take the voyages that have informed a lot of my paintings as well as of lot of Loretta’s poetry. This sea knows our deepest secrets and desires. It witnessed the upbringing of our children, it shared the grief of the loss of our parents, it led us to the magnificent Caer. I still vividly remember when my work was recognized as worthwhile by others. The night prior to my first sale, I had been strolling the streets of Vienna and came across a psychic tarot shop. At that point I had been painting for years and living off of a small fortune my grandparents had left me, while working a set of off jobs from time to time. On that evening, the woman whom owned the shop sat on a tall stool at the entrance. She called at me ‘You – the painter – I have news for you!’ Intrigued, I walked into the shop where she offered to ‘read my cards’. I have never been one to place trust in practices of such nature. While I believe in the sublime and all the magic the world has to offer, this realm has never magnetized me. Regardless, I walked in. Novel experiences have and will always remain my greatest muse. Though I admit I can’t remember all of the cards that were laid out on the table before me, I particularly remember one – it was called the star. At the center of the card there was a large star surrounded by seven smaller stars. At the forefront there was a blond, naked woman holding two jugs which water poured out of. I remember the woman telling me that I was on the right path and that success awaited. As I walked out, I looked down onto my splattered paint outfit and chuckled. Who wouldn’t have guessed that I was a painter?! The next day, as I made my way to a cafe in the early morning, I was stopped by an older gentleman. ‘Excuse me, Mr. Flaubert?’ It turned out that he had attended one of my gallery exhibits earlier in the week and was particularly interested in my work. He was from New York. By the afternoon, I had sold not only my first, but my first three paintings – for a pretty good sum of money, too. After that experience, I decided that perhaps there was some otherworldly dimension others could tap into. Perhaps the psychic knew the guy and they created this perfect scheme to make me believe in something more. And you know what? It worked. From that day forward, I decided that as an artist it was irresponsible for me not to be open to the possibility of something more – of that which lay beyond the seen. It was this kind of open mind-set that eventually led me to Switzerland where I met the beautiful, poetic banker Loretta.” Madame Flaubert blushed. “Well, let’s get closer to the enchantment this sea body has to offer.”
Caer stayed behind as she had not communed with the dream gods for nearly forty-eight hours and her body was beckoned by the soft mattress she had had a peek of earlier. The rest – The Flaurbert’s, Selene, Sofia, and Dmitri made their way to Plage de la Mala. As it was February, the beach though delectably picturesque, had a low volume of visitors. Selene drifted away as Sofia and Dmitri engaged with the Flaurbert’s. She walked along the coast in a white body wrap with a straw beach hat – her hair in a low pony tail. As she walked along the seacoast, a set of soft waves would occasionally kiss the shore with a rhythm of ebb and flow. Some time into her walk, she looked back and saw Sofia, Dmitri, and the Flaurbert’s share laughter. Accidentally, she stubbed her toe on a rock below. She looked down to ensure her toe was okay and noticed what appeared to be a postcard neatly tucked under the rock. Selene took the postcard out from the reigns of the rock only to have a corner rip away. She turned it around and it was a postcard from Sri Lanka. Throughout her travels, Selene liked to collect small pieces of evidence that reminded her of the places she visited. She took the postcard, placed it in her pocket, and continued to walk. “Selene!” Yelled Sofia. “We’re heading back.” Selene briskly jogged towards the crowd of four and they made their way back to Flaurbert’s home.
Once they arrived, the Flaurbert’s went to their wine cellar, Sofia went to her room, and Dmitri rushed into the kitchen. Selene made her way to the balcony and stared out into where the seas and the heavens met, noticing that the sun had significantly lowered since their arrival. As she looked at the deep blues, the surrounding rock interrupted by houses and villas, she thought about where she was to head to next. She usually allowed herself to fully experience a city for two weeks prior to deciding what her next destination was to be. At times, she would remain in a location for a short-period of time, but at other times, the spaces seduced her to stay longer; As had been the case with Brazil where she stayed for two months. Shortly after, Caer joined her. “What are you dreaming of now?” Caer inquired. “Hey. Not much – it’s so beautiful here. Almost dream-like, you know?” Caer nodded. “After my first stay working with the Flaurbert’s all I could dream of while in college was my return. Knowing that I would be returning for the summer months was all the motivation I needed to get through my semesters. I feel so lucky to have found them. I adore them.”
As Dmitri cooked their meal, Selene, Sofia, Caer, and the Flaurbet’s sat in one of the living rooms sharing stories and laughter, getting lost in debates about American politics, and philosophizing about the meaning of life. Selene excused herself to the restroom and escaped to the kitchen to watch Dmitri cook. When Dmitri cooked, he would often get lost in the aromas, the sensations, and the tastes that lay before him. Selene smiled as she watched him prepare the fish; he moved back and forth across the kitchen as if executing a flow of consciousness dance – he did not notice her presence. Once she returned to the camaraderie, Monsieur Flaubert directed a question at Selene, “Selene, have you thought about where you’re going after Nice? I’ve heard great things about Southeast Asia. I myself spent some time in Thailand. Bangkok to be exact.” Though Selene hadn’t given it much serious thought, she slipped her hand into her pocket and explored the texture of the Sri Lanka postcard she had collected earlier. “In all honesty, I haven’t given it much thought.” As the conversation continued her focus was momentarily redirected as she heard Querer softly playing in the background. Her new found focus was suddenly interrupted, by a ringing doorbell. “Nico!” Exclaimed Sofia. Nico was Selene’s fourth friend whom had driven her from Paris to Nice and was going to join them for the days ahead.