As I drove towards the south I was scared to do something stupid. It had been so long since I went somewhere by myself that I forgot how to be dependent on just me. In the two years since Covid, me and my husband had been together almost everyday. I had gotten used to being guided by him, and having him to fall back on in any situation that went wrong. Now that he was in the US, I finally had time to live on my own again, to entertain myself, to break down by myself – and to pick myself up again. And though it felt scary and new all over, I had missed the adventure of following my own impulses and intuition, without having to conform to someone else.
I decided to park the car in a small village near the water. I knew there was a small harbour and café at the end of the small village road. I walked past the small shops and bakery, climbed up a small dam towards the water, and felt the wind that smelled like water on my face. I walked into the harbour and tried to come closer to the open water.
I longed for that nostalgic feeling of being on the water. When I was younger, my parents owned a boat that we sometimes sailed these waters with in summer. I had loved the floaty moments, the smell of sweet water and wet ropes in the harbours. I loved the sounds of sails flapping, and waves crashing against our hull. I missed sailing altogether.
In the small harbour, a father and son where working on their boat. It was November, a cold and misty day. I didn’t understand why they would choose such a frosty day to spend outside on the water. I decided that they must have had no other choice or where used to the cold, living in this rural area. I smiled at them – they didn’t see me. For a short moment I wondered if I was really there, or was actually watching this scenery from a different dimension. That’s how disconnected I was with this place, like it was just a nostalgic daydream.
After watching the open water and quite surely catching a cold, I walked back to the café at the base of the harbour. The Christmas decoration was already up, and when I entered the dark and cosy room, the place was empty but warm. There were only two couples having lunch, so I decided to not be a bother and chose a small table near the entrance of the room. To be honest, I decided on this table because it was near a window where I could watch the harbour. I ordered a cappuccino, started writing and repeatedly stared out the window beside me.
I wasn’t ready to leave this place. But I only had 30 minutes left on my parking ticket, was out of beverages that I felt like ordering, and the cold from outside that was now stuck in my clothes started to reach my bones. Besides that, I didn’t fit in here. There were no hard looks or words towards me, the people were welcoming and acted normal. Yet from the moment I arrived I felt like I was on a time limit not merely set by my parking ticket. It was like the boats, the water, the candles on the table were saying: take it all in, you’ll soon be gone.
So I did. I spent my last minutes in the café appreciating the boats outside, the outdated interior of the café, and the smell of fries and merlots enjoyed by the other guests. I reminded myself that places like these were worth visiting, and I prayed that would not soon be gone like other authenticities I missed in the suburbs.
When I arrived back home and took a hot bath, I laughed at the implausibility that I was actually in the village that day. All of a sudden it seemed so random for me to go there by myself. I didn’t tell anyone. I never really planned to go. Luckily I took pictures of that quiet place. And tomorrow, I would try and find another.