I am writing this on my way back from the 10 day vacation I spent with friends in the south of France. It was a wonderful trip, but also fairly strange in a way – strange because I had issues with myself on this journey. The friends I was travelling with were quite wonderful, and I had a beautiful time with them. But I really was in a messy state when the holiday started, and I wouldn’t get out of it until the second week … But let’s get the chronology right, first of all.
On Saturday, the 30th of April, I had to get up fairly early, because there were still a number of things to deal with before I could take off on my trip. First of all, there was the issue with the tick that I had caught the previous weekend. The little critter had bitten me in the skin on my belly, I had removed it, but then was unsure whether I needed a Doctor’s advice, to see if it was a dangerous bite or not. I actually got into an argument about it with my parents the previous night on the phone, I was so high-strung and stressed out that this whole thing was really messing me up … After the queue at the emergency desk at the local hospital was way too long the night before, I returned there on Saturday morning, after getting up insanely early, to deal with a whole lot of other things before going to the hospital (a bunch of last emails to send out, etc.). At the hospital again, the lady at the reception pretty much sent me away, briskly informing me that nothing bad was happening unless circles are forming around the area where the tick had bitten, and that I should only check if I was getting a temperature … Well, so finally, all other stuff was taken care of, I had my bags packed, and took a taxi to the central station.
Of course, in the taxi I realized that this would be the first-of-May weekend, which is traditionally a weekend of riots in parts of Berlin, and so instantly I started to worry about my car – which I usually park somewhere else, but forgot to do this time around … I was really messed up and full of stress and anxiety …
I took a train to Frankfurt, and then from there a TGV to Paris. The ride was fairly smooth, just a little uncomfortable when I had to change trains and walk because my bags were just so damn heavy. I got to Paris shortly after 8 PM and met with one of our French collagues (whom I’d gone to celebrate New Year’s with also), hung out with him and his roommates for dinner and then took the Métro to our office / apartment in Paris. I spent the night there, which cost me nothing – nicely. The next morning I took my time getting up. Almost serendipitously, I happened to start writing a song. I was listening to some music that was inspiring me, and rediscovered an old fragment of song lyrics that I had come up with some time ago. I started humming a tune to that, and finally ended up singing into the mics built into my computer, recording the first parts of the piece with Garage Band, and even started to built a rhythm groove for it. I’ve never written a song without a guitar, so this was quite a surprising and fun discovery!
I got fairly early to Gare Montparnasse and took my next TGV from there. With one more stop, I finally made it to a tiny train station in the south-west of France, where my friends – Ursula and Steve – picked me up at around 8:30 PM. They are the couple I always spend my evenings with when I travel to Frankfurt, plus Marty, a colleague of theirs, who also lives in Frankfurt. They had rented a magnificiently charming country house for all of us, and I was really excited about it when I got there. Together, we had dinner in the little village just down the road, in a small restaurant there. It seems the tiny village (rather: little collection of houses) is mainly inhabited by English and Dutch residents and tourists. I was in bed around midnight, I think. I would say that my room was probably the only downside – there were two rooms left in the house (the gorgeous master bedroom downstairs had of course and naturally been taken by the couple who had organized it all, the beautiful large bedroom upstairs taken by Marty), and I chose the smaller one of the two, because the other one had three beds, and that felt kind of strange. But the bed is really narrow, and I had a tough time falling asleep.
On Monday, I stayed at home while the others went on an excursion – I really needed time for myself. I spent the morning working on my music piece, and pretty much finished a first draft (which I sent to Drew later in the week, to see what he thinks of it). Other than that, I slept some more in the afternoon, and did pretty much nothing at all. Later, we went shopping together in a small town a little ways away. For dinner, we had an amazing barbecue at the house, on the terrace in the back. It was really miraculous. And such were all our days.
Except – I didn’t feel very miraculous myself. The symptoms are easily explained: throughout these days, I felt that my heart was pounding, I just couldn’t chill and relax, I was somehow constantly in a state of anxiety, or something like that. At night, that really tended to keep me awake at times, I often fell asleep very late … And sometimes was tossing and turning all night. Or I would wake up the next day, after six or seven hours of sleep, and my heart would still (or again?) be pounding … Towards the weekend, it got really bad, and I started to feel like I couldn’t even properly breathe – my chest felt tight, I remember lying by the pool, listening to my iPod, and trying to focus just on steady slow breathing … and had a hard time doing it! It was really unpleasant. Gladly, when I was distracted – because we would travel somehwere, or because we’d be having a nice dinner conversation – I didn’t notice it so much. But whenever I was on my own, it was really bothering me.
On Tuesday, I also stayed at home for another day, I just felt that I needed to totally relax, while the others went on a little trip again. I spent the day sleeping, resting, and experimenting some more with my music. When they came back in the later afternoon, we had coffee and cake, and lit the fireplace after dinner at night. On Wednesday, we were hanging out around the house and at the pool, and we went to the shopping center again, to do some emailing. I could send and receive emails on my phone, but somehow there was no mobile connection strong enough to also connect the computer, and the Wifi at the house was broken. At the shopping center, there was a free Wifi. That’s when I could email my mp3 to Drew. Dinner was leftovers & pasta – and it was amazing again. On Thursday, we travelled to the regional capital. It was a fun day, we listened to music during the ride in the car, and saw the cathedral when we got there, we took a walk around town, and went to a museum where an old site of a Roman mansion is excavated and displayed inside a glass structure built around it. We had a very late lunch of „gouffres“ in a little bistro (lots of restaurants here close between 2:30 PM and 7 PM), and then did some shopping for our dinner, which we had back at the house again, and which was fish this time.
On Friday, the others went to Bordeaux for a day trip. They came back very late at night, after dinner. I spent another day at home alone – I really had trouble with my pounding heart and shallow breathing, and overall weird feeling. I watched a couple of films (proudly defying the common notion that one must be outside when the weather is nice!), and had a nap. And was overall just trying to calm down.
Where was my restlessness coming from? I was and am pretty convinced that it was a combination of a whole number of things which all added up. The past weeks were really crazy – the fact that I had taken two holidays so soon after each other had made my worklife really insane, it made things even more stressful than they usually are. So that already took a heavy toll. Then, the fact that I’d made another attempt to win Indira’s heart (or at least vaguely try whether there was a mild chance … which there wasn’t …) also must have gotten to me – I don’t take it lightly when I really like someone, or have really strong feelings about someone (the night before last I actually dreamed of her, after not thinking about her at all for days). Also, I have gotten somewhat hung up about this idea of sinking 100,000 Euros into buying a Tesla – a wonderful dream, but it’s money that I don’t exactly have … So that is actually becoming another source of stress.
And finally, my history with Caren, strangely enough, really got going, “remotely”, and was a fairly frequent source of – literally – excitement, during these days here in France. We started exchanging really explicit emails, being extremely frank about our sexual desires and needs, making very explicit plans about things we’d do with (and to!) each other – creating a real sense of urgency that way … I sometimes would type emails like that when I couldn’t sleep at night. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time phantasizing about someone, and imagining sex with someone as I did with her, and here. (This must appear paradoxical after what I’ve just said about Indira – it isn’t:) I think the reason is that it’s a type of relationship that I’ve always dreamed about – finding someone hot, wanting someone, and this being mutual, but also mutually agreeing that there shouldn’t and wouldn’t be a love relationship (aka „we may have a family“, „I shall meet her parents“, „why doesn’t her friend soandso like me?“). I find that extremely exciting and inspiring, particularly because she talks about what she wants and likes in totally frank terms, and it’s so easy to talk about what I like and don’t like when someone is like that. In a relationship that is driven by or aiming for love, sex has always such a pivotal role, a role charged with so much meaning, expectation, and need. When there is something wrong in bed, we always connect a meaning to it that goes beyond the sex life, a meaning relating to the relationship as a whole. So we get afraid of breaking something on the higher level if we try to manipulate and change things on this lower level. But when there is no higher level, or when the higher level is sex, then you simply talk about things, because that’s why you’re spending time together.
Enough of the theorizing – what I am trying to say: particularly during the first week, some of my heart pounding may have come from my constant horny thinking about and constant horny communicating with Caren, too … Which, essentially, also shows you that you may want to cut all your digital connections in order to relax – not only the work-related ones.
On Saturday, we stayed at the house again, and in the afternoon took a drive to a train station an hour away, to pick up Steve’s sister – she was going to spend some time with us as well. Marty stayed at home, he had to pack because he was leaving the next day. We had dinner in the large kitchen – Marty, a real master chef, made a fine asian dish with chicken breast. He was quite the hero preparing the most exquisite dinners during these past days. On Sunday, we waved him good-bye, he was leaving to return home, with his own car which he had driven down here. We spent the day at the house. In the evening, Steve, Ursula and I went for a run … which, as I had started to suspect, really did help me with my breathing issues. Maybe my body just needed the exercise? Or maybe I was starting to chill out more? From this little run onwards, I was starting to feel better.
Just before we left for our little run, I decided that afterwards I would raise the issue of Marty’s room that was now vacant, and that I would like to move into it – for two reasons: not only because it was a beautiful room, but also because I was hoping that I might sleep better there, the bed is much bigger. Well, I got a lesson taught in grabbing opportunities early – when we came back from the run, Steve’s sister mentioned, by the way, that she had now moved into Marty’s room … I blurted out that I had actually been hoping to take that because I hoped it would help me with my sleeping. I was sorry about it the moment I had said it, because she instantly said that she would move out of it again, and then pretty soon proceeded to moving her stuff back. It made me feel awkward, like I had forced her to do so, and somehow reluctantly I then moved my stuff there. It was a bit of a weird experience, and I don’t quite know how that came across with everyone … But I have to say that I did very much enjoy spending four nights in that beautiful space, and in the bigger bed.
On Monday morning, we did a fairly extensive grocery shopping trip. In the evening, Ursula and I took a drive to pick up another couple (with their little baby) at that same train station. They are friends of Ursula’s, also staying with us. They got a small apartment in another building just next door. On Tuesday, the new arrivals stayed at home, while the four of us took a fairly long drive (2 hrs) to a very remarkable park on the other end of this region. It was a very beautiful fun day. In the evening, the new guy and I went for another run. Wednesday was my last day. I spent pretty much the entire day by the side of the pool, and went in it twice, which I hadn’t done the entire time before.
And that was pretty much my vacation. I think I fairly managed to get down from this weird state I was in initially, towards the end of the trip. I had a great time with my friends, with whom I got along spectacularly well, and had the privilege of spending these days in an absolutely remakably beautiful environment. Now I am sitting on the TGV that is speeding towards Paris, where I will catch a plane back to Berlin. Tomorrow, I have an appointment in Hamburg. On Saturday, I have one in Berlin in the morning. In the afternoon, I’ll get on a train again – to see Caren, and spend the night. I just hope we didn’t overcharge that meeting with expectation … I spoke with her on the phone a couple of nights ago, and also today during my travels. I kind of enjoy that, I can make her laugh, she is very smart and can be very funny, too. There are things that I like less, and that make me think a relationship really wouldn’t work. But I also need to feel a little tenderness, I cannot have something like an affair (which is what this is supposed to be, I guess) without feeling intimate. And a feeling of intimacy, at least in my case, comes from the mind as much as it does from the body.
Oh well. Let’s see where this goes.