‘Your problem’, he says, ‘is you’re never satisfied’
He is sat on the balcony, rolling a cigarette. He’s got that pained, far away look on his face. The one I hate.
He says it in French, the only language we speak together because all my attempts at getting him to learn English have been futile. He is the most stubborn man I know. I think it’s a Breton thing.
‘That’s not true’ I try, but even to me it sounds fake. It’s not my fault I think, how can I be satisfied with my life when there’s so much I haven’t done. How can he? That is, and always will be, his biggest fault in my eyes, his complete lack of interest in the world. He once told me, when we were talking about travel, that he didn’t need to leave France to feel ‘dépaysé’, that the rugged Brittany coastline was exotic enough for him. It was as if he’d punched me in the stomach. I knew from that moment that our relationship was doomed, but I was hopelessly in love with him anyway.
‘C’est fatiguant’ he says wearily, shaking his head.
‘We’ll be OK’ I said, ‘It will go quickly, you’ll see.’
And I really did think I could go to the other side of the world with another man (the fact that it was with a gay man made no difference in his eyes) for several months and come back to my stubborn French boyfriend of 2 years. I actually believed that I could go on an adventure and then come back and say, Oui, I’m ready to settle down and find a teaching job in a small village in the north of France. I really, truly believed it. I even had visions of decorating our first appartment in various shades of duck egg and cream, walking the dog every day even when it rained, (which it does most of the time in Brittany) spending long, languorous days i
n bed together and drinking lots and lots of red wine.
But f course that didn’t happen. As usual, he was right. The travel bug bit me and after that, there was no coming back.
I was hooked.