So today is the ninth anniversary of the day Rhys and I got married. I said to him last night that I thought they said the first nine years are the hardest.". We are in Antibes for a week, a very generous friend having offered us his flat. We arrived and Rhys's cold that wouldn't quit evolving into allergies took a turn for the worse. I mean, man, what is there like a continual cough and reduced lung capacity to totally wear a person down? Our friend T suggested that we meet up at the Fondation Maeght near St. Paul de Vence inland and we thought maybe the relatively cosmopolitan Antibes was worsening his allergies so despite his incapacitation (coughing most of the night for two nights really takes it out of you) he got behind the wheel and we went.
Except we couldn't get out of the parking garage, we kept having to stop for coughing fits and inability to breathe as well as lost pacifiers and dropped Good Girl, and then when we finally managed to pay the parking ticket (€50/day) we got to the car and realized we had left the keys in the apartment. So the question was, who goes back to the apartment: the one who cannot see for streaming eyes who is having trouble breathing, or me, who can get lost going outside of an apartment for a cigarette? (I did that in March, actually) Rhys went, and then we drove off, with two hungry kids, in insane traffic and an uncooperative google maps operation for directions.
Bad. Awful. But then we got to St. Paul de Vence. This is where Chagall, Picasso and other moderns, in their penniless days, came to paint and live cheaply. It is an exquisite village. We met up with Tanya and had lunch at a brasserie nestled between Column D'Or (the impossibly beautiful hotel that has a private collection of Chagall, Picasso and other moderns because that's what they paid their bills with - only available to guests) and an ancient boule courtyard. We wandered around the village and I bought rose Champagne and ate violet ice cream. Violet ice cream! If you know me, you know what this means to me. Eating flowers. Rose sorbet. Lavender and peach crumble. I believe in eating flowers whenever possible. It is a whole other way to love flowers.
Then on to Fondation Maeght. I was so excited to go to this place, and it was better than my imagination. I mean, it's a little like Alambra in Spain or Macchu Piccu but it's also like the Guadi cathedral in Barcelona and the sculpture garden at the Rodin museum in Paris and MOMA. It is this beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Water style 1960's museum and landscaped sculpture gardens. It is full, full, full, of Miro and Giacometti and best of all for me, Chagall. The Maeghts were art dealers who set up this foundation and, well, man, this sculpture garden: Calder, Miro ... everywhere you look, enormous modern sculptures, crowded together, each singing in chorus together about the nature of humans, clawing and trying to understand. There was a huge Erik Dietman exhibit. I had never heard of him but, man, the more I write plays the more I appreciate sculpture. And the more I love Chagall.
But before we got in somehow the engine of our rental car started pouring out acrid smoke and we had to evacuate the car in the parking lot of Fondation Maeght and Rhys could barely function so I had two kids and a broken car to deal with and I was on hold with Europcar's Service Line (what hell is really like) for most of the time I was looking at the sculpture. Rhys was heroic. And if you have to be stuck somewhere waiting for the rental car repair guy, we were stuck in the right place. By no means am I a great mother but I do feel great when the kids are looking at great paintings.
After we had been at Fondation Maeght for just north of too long, a mechanic showed up and fixed the car and was incredibly charming as well and entranced by my children (that makes you charming to me).
The French. Here I am eating their seafood, cooking it in their unparalleled butter actually, and smelling their lemons, drinking their Champagne, complimenting their mechanics and walking through their villages. And eventually Rhys got much better when he actually took the pills the French pharmacist had given him. Perhaps we have something to learn from the French.
Perhaps we all have something to learn from each other, but we must be patient and tolerant of each other for them to give up their secrets.
Ah, this is true in international relations and this is also true in marriages, in my humble nine years of experience.
Strong bonds are bonds that have strands of both love and hate. Tonight as we stood on the balcony over the Place de Gaulle, Rhys asked me how I wanted the headline to read. American screenwriter plummets to her death? We settled on Great Undiscovered American Playwright Falls To Her Death. The point is, I personally have not experienced marriage where you didn't want to kill the other person sometimes. Ah, these bonds are not only of love, but also of hate. And in that moment of falling in love, we fall in love and we fall in hate, and there we remain, each other's life work, figuring it out, trying not to judge, remembering it is hard.
Good night. Good night. Nine years. Good night.