The spontaneous goodness of people makes me fall in love over and over again. The wonder of it, as one receives an unexpected gesture or gift that makes the chest expand and the heart open wide and one falls in love forever and ever. At that moment, life is
so beautiful that one would actually be willing to die on the spot, no regrets.
And it can be as simple as a cup of coffee.
Every day, when I am finished dressing and having my
morning smoothie, I put Salomé on her leash and we trot out for our walk to the
Café des Thèrmes where we will meet our
Kiwi friend and –for Salomé- his croissants. There are days when this does not
happen. Some days I have French conversation class and do not go to the Café; others it is my friend who must be
off to somewhere before ten, but most days we meet, have coffee and chat. Kiwi
brings me the world, so to speak. He is an avid reader of newspapers, watcher
of BBC and CNN, and surfer of the Web. The world he brings me consists not only
of the news, but of juicy tidbits, either humorous or outrageous, worth
commenting and mulling over as we sip our cups of coffee. Salomé, upon spotting
Kiwi, immediately perks up her ears and licks her chops. The tidbits she
receives are more edible and her passion for them has earned her the honor of
belonging to the dog species known as a “Mange-Croissant” or croissant-eater. So
Salomé and I go to the Café not only for the drink but for our tidbits: a most enjoyable way to start the morning in a town which doesn’t even have a stoplight and where no one is ever in a hurry.
At the Café we are waited on by “Madame Ça-marche (as I call her)”, a jolly, round, short-haired, middle-aged woman who probably owns the place. “Madame Ça-marche” knows what everyone will drink as everyone usually drinks the same every morning. One
glance at our table and she calls out: “Un grand crème et un allongé! Ça marche!” and promptly delivers the steaming cups to our table. Kiwi always
remembers to put the money out and she picks it up as she sets down the coffee,
but I often have to go inside and pay or simply leave the coins on the table
as I depart. Today our morning coffee was longer than usual and, after kissing each other on both cheeks and wishing each other a good day, I walked as far as the bridge a half a block away before remembering that I hadn’t paid, so turning around I went back. Madame Ça-marche was cleaning off the bar with a rag. Laughingly I told her I was about to steal the cup of coffee having walked off without paying. As I pulled out my wallet,
she suddenly beamed a smile at me and said: “This morning it’s on me”.
“Oh, no, no” I muttered pulling out my wallet, but she waved her hand at me dismissively insisting that it was what she wanted to do, her face was absolutely radiant and all her being resonated with the delight of giving. I fell in love; I would have kissed her feet, embraced her, flung my arms around her neck and cried for joy. Understanding that this would not be appropriate, I placed my hand on her shoulder and said “Merci beaucoup”. As I strolled home the wonder grew, and the love. There was no logic to her gesture, I was no one special, I had not spoken to her other than the normal exchange of bon jour and bonne journée, oui and merci. I was just another daily customer, but all of us are, and a foreign one at that with a little dog who has become the love of all the regulars: no one special in any way.
It may seem strange to others that my reaction (which no one can see or feel but me) is such a complete surrender, but this is what love is to me today: “Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself”, and this poor heart that would try to hold it in simply learns to ache with joy each time it becomes present.