Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Everyone has a dream.

I put a cork in 2300 bottles of wine today. It was part of the dream of the English doctor and his wife. They wanted to be wine makers, so they packed up jolly old england and traded it in for sunny south of France. He acquired some terrains and outfitted the barn at the back of their house with some modern but not fancy vintners equipment and, well, he’s making some wine.

On paper the dream always looks rosy, in real life it can get a little sloppy. Between working a few days in the local clinic, and trying to make a go in the wine business, a little baby and another on the way, a 200 year old house that is quaint but needs work, he is often a bit pressed. Even in a small operation one man can’t do it all.

He called me the other day to see if I was available to help him put his latest batch of wine in bottles. It’s a precise, if not exact time frame that dictates everything done in the wine making process. Now was the time to get it in the bottle. He called me a bit frantic wondering if I could help him the next day. I am beginning to get a reputation as a worker who is usually available, and cheap, one could almost say easy.

I said “yes, okay, tomorrow at eight”

Now, I have my dream too, I would be hard pressed to say exactly what it is, but it seems to have something to do with watching others go about theirs. In effect, it’s how I make my living here in this land of dreamers. I restore their centuries old building, pick their olives, bottle their wine, prune their vines, construct their new vacation home. Even my woman is working on hers, she’s about to get her masters degree. They all came here with an active dream. I mean what kind of image do you pull up when you say the phrase ‘South of France’.

I would guess that it often includes a few bottles of wine (which i did get as a prime de panier) but I’d also say that your revery would rarely include a work day which leaves you with 45 euros in your pocket. Which is almost the equivalent of a tank of gasoline for a small automobile. This nagging lack of cash that lingers like a chronic cough is one reason I concentrate on watching other folks go about living their dreams. It reinforces a myth that I can’t psychologically afford to let die. The dream that the life in the south of France is gay and colorful and full of rich tastes. It’s not that always being broke prevents you from dreaming, it’s just that the actual living out of the dream is a bit more difficult without a full fledged income.

Poor though is relative. The fact that I eat regularly and have a roof over my head makes me rich in comparison to the vast percentage of the worlds population. There are times though when the others misery isn’t enough to rinse the bitter taste from my own mouth.

I went to get two new tires today so I can pass the automobile control this week. It has to be done every two years and my time is up. Premier prix. Rock bottom. A hundred and ten euros. I gave the guy my bank card. It came up wanting. I thought I had a bit left. The tire guy, though he had to listen, didn’t really care. He just heard - DENIED. The more I explained, the more lame it sounded. I told him I would come back. I had to leave the car there and hoof it back to my womans house to get a check from her.

There was nothing romantic or myth producing about the two mile walk. It runs along an ugly, busy road that runs through the industrial zone. If there were still railroad tracks it would have been on the other side of them. The route was wet and noisy. It was somewhat sunny out, but the general feeling was windy and cold. Like the failure of the boy scout that I am, I wasn’t prepared. For the bad card, for the walk, for being poor, even for being in France. I just wasn’t prepared.

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