By Simon Barget
Behind the sky-blue gate of no. 782 Route du Village is the quaint yellow house where all things are worked out, your karma attained, where you see that life is right now and what has passed or what’s yet to come is just part of life designed to reveal to you what you haven’t absorbed yet, what you’re still having trouble with, that trouble being precisely nothing.
This place has a certain magic and you will see when you get here that all the people you brushed shoulders and passed the time of day with, the no-ones, the bit-parts, people you got no juice from, those not able to judge you enough to make it worthwhile bestowing a dime of your time, all those amorphous hordes at airports and in planes, in mass-transit arenas, in theatres and bars, people strewn across beaches and lakeside promenades, appendages, stray data, dust flicked off an old coat sleeve, people who didn’t look at you long enough to see who you truly are, thoroughly and straight down your eye-line,
all those times you dragged your soles on the pavement on the way back to your car, rather forlornly or even absentmindedly, shoulders hung heavy, times hanging around waiting, times at bars hustling people aside for your pint of Green Lane, times where the conversation dropped, times having to stand stone-like for a moment ever so awkwardly, times waiting on austere mainline station platforms, times in motionless tube carriages, times reaching over and around for the Metro, times walking up all those metal-capped staircases, times in lifts or even stepping inside them, times double-checking the post is not actually your post, times on interminable telephone calls where the other person is resistant to hanging up, times in traffic moving ever so incrementally, times having to keep your foot close by to feather brake, times in doctors, in the waiting room and their surgeries, times waiting to be called in, times on hold to the receptionist, times staring listlessly and gormlessly, times waiting to be guided,
times scratching a particular spot on your forehead, times hoicking up on pants and socks, times almost losing your balance and tipping over, times saying thank-you and you’re welcome and times just saying yes and please and ok then and no I’m ok actually and then saying pardon do you mind repeating that, and times contemplating having to speak words in a foreign language in order to be understood, and times bottling it and choosing to be more judicious and just using English loudly, emphatically, times asking people how their weekend how was, how they are, how their spouse/wife/husband/partner/parent is, times wishing someone better, times consoling and condoling, times walking into the wretched cabbage odours of hospitals, times inquiring what cancer it was this time, times saying ‘stage three’ or ‘metastasized’, times paying-and-displaying, times boxed-in and reverse-parking, times thinking people look suddenly so old and times thinking others still manage to look young, times saying good job and well done especially to younger folk, times intrepidly kissing, moving in for a proper hug, times buying cards buying presents, flowers, bottles of red and champagne and putting them in decorative birthday drop bags, times getting set for weddings, times thinking about all the things needing to be done for them, times taken in by them and recapping on all the things that happened, times waiting out software updates and for the inevitable reboot, times telling people your ‘news’, times tapping on notifications and images, times enlarging them via the splaying of the confluence of index and middle finger, times, times being slightly startled by the alerts and then inveigled by them,
times left flat-footed by how jarringly attractive someone is, times passing by houses and perving into their front rooms, times replenishing kitchen roll and TP, times washing clothes, times rewashing sour ones, times straightening them deftly on limb-like clothes racks, times pulling arms outside in and inside back out, times throwing out the duvet into the extremities of the cover, times when it persistently refuses to mushroom into them, times looking at menus absorbing relentless prices, times solo in coffee shops, times tapping near and on credit-card readers, times disputing the meaning of a particular word, times looking the word up, times looking skyward and actually noticing the otherworldly outlines of clouds, times gingerly feeling that bit just by your lower lip for an incipient spot, times doing that icky thing that no one really ever lets on to doing,
times waiting at pedestrian crossings, times crossing them, times thanking the driver by gesticulation, times justifying yourself disingenuously to your kids, times turning on lights, closing doors, putting them to, pressing buttons on intercom keypads, times conceding in the face of an aggressive oncoming road user having to reverse gurning all the way back down the road, times threatening to take away the iPad for the last time,
times waiting for the dog to make haste and stop sniffing stop moseying, times unashamedly looking right into peoples’ faces, times connecting Bluetooth headphones, times waiting to disconnect them, times cursed by a poor signal and apologising and being somewhat stopped dead in one’s tracks by it, times looking down coyly while people pass you, times looking momentarily at them, times aiming to produce a smile, times having ailments and pain and headaches and sneezing and suffering mildly and being nauseated and vomiting and shivering and having proper full-on flu and having cold sweats, times swallowing down a gulp that seems to stay up in the throat and refuses to go down, times involved in one’s own non-existent fame and appeal, times hating and hating oneself, times telling your kids this is their very last chance,
times wide-eyed at 4:30 in the morning, times so heavy in the head you feel you could just keel over, times giving up on the Sudoku, times looking down and seeing once again how many books you are only barely half-way through, times switching from one beastly gym machine to the next, times trying to convince yourself you aren’t eavesdropping or that if you are you aren’t all that interested, times stroking cats, being taken in by the thrum of their purrs, times where you utter oooooh in profuse exaggeration to indicate you missed the point and that you’ve now vehemently got it, times when it starts feeling like autumn, times when you pick up on the smell of something, times when it’s food being cooked or times when it’s the wetness of rain, times when the rain stops, times when you’re stoned and then your stomach clears, times when you need and want feeding and you can’t abide anything, times filling in forms, times saying your surname, times spelling your surname, times asking for things, times being purposively nice, times where you won’t accept not getting the thing that you know very well you wanted, times where tears come from a sadness almost wholly unanticipated, times wanting to cry for much longer but the tears just dry up, times watching Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, AppleTV, NowTV, normal Sky, Terrestrial, Hulu, WhatsApp, Memes, GIFs screensavers on a retina screen, times where the holiday is enviably far from ending and times when there’s just one solitary day left, times denying before even realising you were denying, times fighting your own corner, times having to agree begrudgingly perhaps only to pacify, times waiting it out for the person to finish their point and their talking, times wanting to get a word in edgeways,
times just in offices, times meeting people and in them, times showing passes, times at pop concerts, times folding peeling stacking chopping screwing in screws and hammering, times shredding open boxes, times covering in film and foil, times feeling you’re monopolising the space, times patronised and seemingly patronising, times where you feel you’ve sweetened the caulk of criticising a person by being even-handed and rational, times where you know that once you started it’s difficult to cork it, times wanting to be so even-handed, times natural and spontaneous, times where the discourse just flowed, times trying to fill space in our diaries, times cancelled and cancelled upon, times preferring maybe wishing to be with people other than the ones you happen to be with, times imagined to be better than ones now, times without a coat where the temperature drops in the evening, times fearing the worst, times thinking a sudden late phone call must means someone’s snuffed it, times with sirens blaring past you, times answering a land line to cold-callers or hawkers, times trying to be polite, times thinking you know what it will be like to get ill and die, times truly empathising,
times running out of steam, times taking stock of how old you are now, times getting your head round the actual feeling of being that age, times unwittingly once again playing the victim, times cooking, cleaning, building, vacuuming, putting away and taking out, times taking bags out to the bin, times unwittingly finding the bite of a mosquito, times successfully sourcing it, times soothingly and roughly scratching till it reassuringly bleeds, times planning meals, times thinking all the time what you will be having for dinner that day and even the next one, times being grateful for what you are and what you have, times allowing and being flexible, times making allowances and taking others as they are, times accepting and just merging and going with the flow and being cocooned and cushioned and very much ok, times, times, times, times, times, times, times
YES, in and beyond these moments you will see that all those people and times, all those minute seemingly trivial and disparate and discombobulated moments are the ones that make up your life, they are sacrosanct and real, each and every conferring a meaning not in the actual content of the experiences — the content being just a bewildering spectacle intended to deceive — not even in the content of the feelings, those brutal overpowering feelings that take you over, but in the mere fact that they came to pass and are, and then you will see that no other time or feeling, sense or thought or anything that you haven’t experienced is not something you need to experience, need ever take note of, can ever be in your purview, down to the very blueprint of your soul which is inalterable, the curve of your left fingernail over the left cuticle for instance, that inculcated felt sense that you take to be you, as everything you are and have been and seen as you.
And what you felt was not relevant, that gnawing sense it was always all wrong, all those places you felt you shouldn’t have been or didn’t deserve to have to suffer in, all the places you didn’t see and mercilessly missed out on, home between four bruising walls, feeling not to be a part of anything not nearly remotely meaningful enough to warrant your existence as a separate living breathing being, a thing with feelings, desperate yelping needs, your family and friends for instance, oh your horrible family, and that all that you see hear or feel wherever you are is inherently pure.
In this place in southern France by this walled garden and yellow house are four perfect identikit bedrooms housing four rather perfect king-size beds with four basic colours of bedspread and cold outsized floor tiles and sections of parquet and curtains held back by thin knotted threads which you need pull apart like shoe laces to unleash their Provençale splendour and always this fresh Japanese/lavender scent in the bedrooms and in the garden an orange tree and bulbous water-urn plant pots housing geraniums and gladioli and nothing much more in the way of flora.
In this place in southern France it will suddenly hit you that there is nothing that needs to be done to make you whole, to make you who you are and were always intended on being. And that you have always been that since as far as you can recall. You will be beset by a wrenching feeling in your gut allied to the love that you are, pointing to the love that you embody, that you have been holding back to yourself, which is the love that when given to others is reflected back onto yourself in droves, a love that makes you soar, and fly, that solves everything you ever toiled under.
If you are fortunate enough to go to this yellow house and know this insight and see that all your efforts have been in vain and always will be, if you are fortunate to be still living at this juncture, this haphazard moment of your existence, then you can ride the chariot to heaven because heaven is very close to this normal but magical place, it is over your left shoulder at the end of the hedgerow, and in the evening a timid crescent moon will emerge from behind a clump of backlit clouds where the stars will appear as people you’ve known long since departed and all will be available now as it is and was always, for now and for ever Amen.