June 4th, 1989
South of France
Sunday is typically one of Ben’s busiest workdays but he did manage to get a few hours off this morning, which allowed us to lounge in bed for several blissful hours.
We walked to Canet-en-Roussillion and sat outside a little café, gorging ourselves on the flakiest, most delicious chocolate croissants. All was well until I asked the surly looking waiter for, “Du the´ s’il vous plaît.”
The waiter put his hands on his hips and made a disdainful sound I believe the French learn at birth. “The´?” he asked. “Avec croissants?”
Feeling annoyed, I responded in English. “Yes. Tea. Please.”
I watched him shake his head and shudder in a gesture of disbelief. For the sole purpose of annoying him even more, I waited until he’d turned to walk away before I added, “With milk, s’il vous plaît.”
I reached across the table for Ben’s hand and rubbed my buttery fingers over his. He hadn’t said much to that point and I hesitated on asking but as usual, my mouth got ahead of me.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Like what?” I asked.
“This won’t be the last time I’ll be working as a rep.”
I gave him a questioning look. “I thought once the summer season was over you were planning on coming home and doing something else?”
“It’s been suggested I go back to Italy for the winter.”
“But you hated it there,” I blurted.
“I wouldn’t say I hated it.”
“I’m only repeating what you said.”
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“So are you thinking about saying yes?”
“Yes you’re thinking about it or yes you’ve already agreed to go back?” I asked.
“I’ve agreed to go back.”
I pulled my hand away from his.
“Now what?” he asked.
“Eh, that information comes under the heading of dropping a bombshell.”
The waiter chose that very moment to return. He took one look at my face then gently placed the tea down in front of me.
“Merci monsier,” I croaked. He gave me a sympathetic smile and left.
“Why are you so annoyed?” Ben asked.
“I’m not annoyed, I’m upset. I’ve had my heart set on you coming home after this and maybe us getting a place together, like we talked about.”
“There’ll be a break in between. I can come home then.”
“What if I’m away on a long trip and don’t even get to see you?”
“You’re over reacting babe. Calm down.”
I felt the opposite of calm. “You do know my job takes me away for days, sometimes weeks at a time, right?”
“Yes, I’m perfectly aware of that. And you know I work in another country for months at a time, right?”
“Yes, I’m perfectly aware of that,” I said, mimicking him. “I just don’t know how we can keep our relationship going with one of us living outside the UK and the other constantly flying.”
“So your job is more important than mine?” he asked in an irate tone.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”
A few minutes passed and neither of us spoke. I busied myself with the cup of tea and nibbled on the remains of what suddenly tasted like cardboard. Unable to bear the silence any longer, I asked, “How can we work this out?”
With a look on his face I’ve seen before, he said, “I don’t know if we can.”