The next morning Chantal was not in her transparently privatized bedroom with a gauzy drape. From the kitchen I’d poured a cup of black as beans espresso from Chantal’s Turkish coffee maker and dozily slumped into a swinging love seat on the lanai. Still in my pajamas, listless as a floating cotton willow; the grounding I’d felt the day before had evaporated. Looking and listening to birds, rooster, and distant horses, all within a misty silhouette that filled in the hips of the mountains. Beyond the sea, the imagery of my reclusive life in Santa Fe manifested. The skin I wore in Santa Fe; unreasoningly introverted with a coating of protection flaked off and a news skin surfaced.
Just as the image is crystallizing, I sense Chantal crossing the garden towards me.
“ LouLou—are you okay?”
“ I’m not living right at all, ” I uttered without a smile.
She sat down beside me, placed her cell phone behind her, rested her elbows on her knees and leaned toward me to look in my eyes.
“ Oh why? You are not happy in Santa Fe?”
“ Not anymore-I see things differently now.”
“ Yes, this is what happens when we take vacation. If you’re life is not full then you must change it. It’s not always the place that matters, but how you live. You know some people like to suffer, this is not you. I know– believe me. I meet people from all over the world. I traveled with Carl everywhere.”
“Well I’m full now– but I’ve been in a cage.”
“ This is not good! I will tell you that since Carl died I too wanted to live in my bedroom and not even get out of our bed. So I worked day and night to keep his legacy going, and to manage the vacation rentals. I made myself so busy just to get through the pain. I was a mess; many times I didn’t think I’d get through it. But you see–I am okay now. I still think of him everyday and some days are rough; but this is life. We don’t know what will happen. You have to live now. When you die no one remembers you; they go on living. “She opened her mouth and her smile asked me to smile with her.
“ We will have a lot of fun you and I. You know I feel like we’ve known each other. You feel that too?”
“ Yes! I think my choice to come here was to meet you.”
“ Oooh lala-then we begin to enjoy. You hungry? I make some breakfast and then we go to Trader Joes. I make a party tonight. How’s that?”
“ I’d like that.”
“ You want some eggs–how do you like them?”
“ I’m so full of joy I have no appetite.”
She threw her head back, and laughed.
“ What time is it Chantal?”
“ It’s eleven o’clock. You sleep very late.”
“ No. I never sleep this late.”
I followed Chantal into the kitchen where she was leaning against the stove frying eggs; she was on her cell phone. ‘Cheri, you come tonight for dinner and meet my new friend LouLou.’ Then another call and another. To observe Chantal is to see the openness of a human being without hesitation, restraint or obsession. I followed her around for the rest of the day just like Kou-Koui; her little Habanese dog. Chantal’s enthusiasm for the approaching party was seamless. As we shopped at Trader Joes, she chatted with customers, the grocery clerk, and the cell phone that rings continuously.
“ LouLou, is that you?”
I was passing her bedroom as she called me in and patted the bed for me to sit.
“Have you had a shower? I will take one after you. I marinated the chicken and meat, so all we have now is the salad.”
In the kitchen she is dressed in a skirt, neck-less blouse, and a magenta flower behind one ear. As she demonstrates how to cut the cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado, she darts from one skillet to another. The music is ruminating through the house; a French wave of seduction and rhythm that entices us to dance around the kitchen island. I feel like a young girl learning to be a woman. She is only a few years older than me; yet her human connection of livingness is unbridged and unchained.
I intended to write a travel story about Malibu; as you see the travel story is Chantal.