I’m sitting on the couch in Guinguette de la Plage, the one I’ve seen in passing, but never took the time to cozy up to since my inexhaustible conscious always urges me to actively participate in anything, but never to passively engage in nothing.
I came to the river this morning to do yoga, despite having checked the forecast from bed. I knew impending rain would keep the regulars at rest, but showed up as more of a polite contingency, and to honor a commitment I made to myself to shed excuses. I have no phone numbers to contact the owners, nor the reception to make such a call if the necessity were so strong, and thought it wouldn’t be the first time I’d have walked the 1/2 mile to get here to simply relay a message before turning right back around.
I sat under the umbrella of a tree, and was surprised to see two women step from their car whom I had never met, nor even seen before. It seems a rarity for a duo residing so close to the church in the center of the village where inhabitants have piled together more than once, especially in warm summer months crowded by tourists to maintain the local integrity of the community for “potluck” dinners they refer to with a word I don’t quite understand and haven’t yet remembered.
The rain came 30 minutes in, at first a drizzle moistening our mats as water amassed in cupped leaves before their weight gave way, and soon as a thunderous storm that led the women huddled in their mat towels shuffling back towards the car, but not before handing me a white envelope stuffed with enough change for a cool beer and a card for her at home massage company. “Mon métier.”
I brought my Kindle and a coffee cup I knew the owners would fill as they knew my weaknesses, and was well aware that today’s journey would be a one way walk if the weather was as predicted, it is.
The couch is as old as I suspected, cushions covered in coffee bags, draped in a black and white tapestry with a mandala of elephants stampeding in circles decreasing in size as they approach the center where my back rests. The coffee table has two glass rings soaked into its surface, side by side from a conversation I imagine was so engaging that it’s members forgot the condensation on their drinks, and the furnace to it’s left collects dried lavender in vessels of various shape and sizes when not in use. The sofa chairs across from me are draped in red sheets, close enough to the bookshelf that you could reach from your seat to pluck a read from the wall, and an old telephone occupies the space on a small circle table, though I suspect the business conducted on it is as informal as the ambiance I always feel in here.
There’s a show poster taped to the wall hidden beside my couch from June 19, 2012 with stick figure drawings attached to photographic face clippings that made me look twice when I recognized two of the men from another band who had come to perform here one month ago. I came to visit them at the tents they were provided for their two-night stint in town and one pushed us around the river as our engine for a small row-boat without; I would never forget his face.
I feel the most modern age I have in sometime as I click away on he notepad of my iPhone, Kindle propped beside me, while the rest of the clientele punches in and out of manual clocks edged up against their chess boards as the focus on theirs or other’s games of Blitz carry on when the players aren’t busy mixing their own cocktails at 11 am. It’s Saturday, after all.
Jean Baptiste, the owner, strolls around tugging at the edges of his curled mustache to keep watch, while the faces he’s whittled into soft wood scraps hung around the restaurant watch him stoically.
He whistles songs he knows on the radio and gives me a nod to assure that I don’t need anything. I don’t think I need anything more than the knowledge that an alternate heaven such as this leaves its gates open to even those such as me, devout only to the idea that I could live and die with a warm cup of coffee and a good read on an old couch in Southern France.