Monday, May 16, 2011

Can't Sleep

I was at the beach the other day, and an old man came by with his metal detector, and started asking me questions like where I was from. He had a big smile, and turned his head as he asked "as tu peur de me parler?" Are you afraid to speak to me?
I said no.
He laughed, ran his metal detector over my toes, and sent off the alarm, saying I was made of gold. He yanked a grubby handful of coins from his pocket, shuffled them with a callused finger and passed me one: a Franc from 1973. I thanked him, he waved it off, and off he went.
I sat for a few minutes, thought about trying to turn it into a necklace, tried to think of a event from 73, contemplated curling up into a ball and rolling into the water and letting the tides take me away, and ended up on my feet chasing him along the shore.
Sir laughed, maybe he knew I had a question, and asked what I was doing here. The same old answer: studying. Same old reply: where? 
I never break the Girl Guide code, never tell a stranger where you go to school. So I always say music. 
He asks if I'm married. I laugh, and tell him that I'm not yet 17, and he says that he would have given me at least 18, and so I'm left wondering what the world looks like through eyes that make me old, are old themselves, and who are narrowing on the world while he rattles off what he's made off of selling his treasures.
Cutting to the point, I ask him what life is. 
He works every weekday, and every other day he combs the beach to help pay his 5 children's bills. He tells me to get married, keep my music and have a family, that's all that matters. Give your children a good life.
It's been on my mind since last week. I'm scrambling to remember his face, how can you lose someone who has marked you in a matter of days? In my mind, I find him again, and ask him what to do if I have to choose between the two, because I don't know if I can sing and give my family a good life too...
Food for thought: live for love, or for passion; a personalized mundane or a game of all-or-nothing by someone elses rules?
Do I have to run the pebbled beach calling "Sir, come back, I have another question"?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Olivia,

    When I was 21, I too met an old man on the beach of Nice. He would fish on the ?eastern edge near the cliffs everyday. When I would go down to the beach in the morning, I would bring a chausson pomme to share with him. He would help me practice my 'real life' French. His name was Joe....he would be gone now...