September 9, 2010

Hand Holding

Hand Holding

Oscar still holds my hand.

I may be reading too much into it, or too little, but it is sublime when it happens!
We are getting acquainted with city life and all the complexity. The noises and challenges, the treasures and beauties, and the contradictions and opportunities that greet us at each bend in the streets.  Sometimes you have to keep your head down, and sometimes you must remind yourself to keep your eyes up!  There are enough restaurants to feed us and drain our pockets for years, there are secret parks and new views, free museums and boutiques, expensive enough to break the back of any shopper, and so many kilometers of bike paths to challenge our selles and souls. All this is currently overwhelming, as we try to reinvent ourselves for this new template. It will arrive, but for the moment there is a lot of handholding going on. This village takes a family!

View down to the street

I think it’s the thrill and challenge of the new environment that makes us (Oscar) reach out for a handhold, too much going on and not enough words to do any better than a firm grip.  We spent a day in the Atlantic surf along the coast, romping in the waves and holding tight to each other. There is nothing like the force of nature to make one want to cling tight.

While in my mind Oscar is a young man at 12 years old, the pounding surf  brought out the kid in both of us, and once I coaxed him into too big waves, we discovered the warmth of holding a hand in the cold water as the swells lifted us off our feet and upside down. We held tight, providing reassurance, but at one point a seventh wave stripped the grip and as I waited to find UP and resurface, 12 years and too many movies flashed in front of my closed eyes, but then 2 meters away there was a tumbled Oscar, tired of the waves, but not traumatized by the brief separation like his dad. 

Dining room to living room

It was me who led him into the waves of the real world, and somehow my job was to get him through the currents and back to shore, at least this time.  I wanted him to push himself into the bigger waves and the rewards of the risk, but I was scared with the depth between the swells. Joy, pleasure, pain and a salty residue. Life is a smorgasbord, and in this moment Bordeaux is our buffet, and we can share it while holding hands. 

View from the balcony

Patricia is my handhold. She continues to let me grow while supporting me always. In speaking French it is easy for one partner to become the speaker, and the other to become the dumb and dumber. I try not to succumb to the temptation of Patricia’s better language skills and she gives me room to try and to progress, however slowly. It’s important that, while holding my hand, she let’s me make all the necessary mistakes!

I watched a couple of Martel neighbors last month, walking quietly, holding hands, and it seemed so important. I found out later they had been walking to dinner to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, and they seemed to be so comfortable in the handholding, it struck me. Holding hands seems a quiet statement, both hands are complicit, it takes two. People who aren’t happy with each other don’t hold hands!  It’s like whistling, people who aren’t happy, don’t whistle!  

So I take Oscar’s desire to stroll through the big scary streets of Bordeaux, holding his dad’s hand, as a tacit desire not to be separated, and somehow a statement of affection and trust. I write about it here to immortalize it, because I’m certain it’s not going to last!
And holding Patricia’s hand.… well that’s just what best friends do.


We have been in Bordeaux for a week, we have been profiting from the late summer weather and a pause in our lives without English students or houses to renovate. The apartment we have stumbled upon will serve us well. We have been busy nesting, and building shelves, deep cleaning, rearranging the furniture, and repairing that which escaped the light touch of the landlord. We have a guest room, and a dining room big enough to receive you, and more museums than you can shake a stick at!

Grand Theatre at sunrise

We like it here!


Faye Bird said...

Pat, Oscar, Daniel,
I see you've all settled into your new place...
Is Bordeaux a lot bigger than Martel?
Do you miss Martel?
I wish I was still in France...

Can't wait to see you all again.

Cui Cui

Gayle said...


Gayle said...


Anonymous said...

Well done! Looks like you landed some stylin' urban digs for the POD. No surprise there really. Thanks for the update. Seems like a heck of a commute to Martel to your "office" though. Still, a French commute somehow seems more tolerable.


seth said...

Lovely update, Dan. Thanks.

And to paraphrase the immortal words of the Beatles, I want to hold you hand, too!