Memories of pine and thyme,

A windblown dance

Wearing red and yellow.

 

Des souvenirs de pin et de thym,

une danse transportée par le vent,

aux nuances vertes et  jaunes. 

 

Between the spaces of the start -- and end -- of this story, another story surfaces. You could think of it as a story within a story. A more accurate depiction would be the thought of a container where little stories reside within the main story. I guess almost all stories are created in this manner. They start out slowly, treading their way into the world, not knowing where the wind takes them.

I met him, the guy from Marseille, while I was enroute to be painting on a wall in Melaka, Malaysia. For consecutive weekends, I went across the border by coach bus, to paint on the facade of a guesthouse, painting a mural on the exterior wall. At a cafe where I was eating lunch before this activity, we met, for the first time. He had large gray-green eyes that twinkled kindly under the brim of his battered, worn, straw chapeau. Mesmerized, both of us made our shy and nervous way towards each other, like hesitant shooting stars crossing over the expanse of the skies. 

Well, obviously, I visited the guy from Marseille in Marseille, months later. It was the beginning of autumn. It was my first time in Europe, and like every first time, I looked wondrously at every single thing I saw, akin to not forgetting how it felt like to be a young child again. Everything seemed amazing. I noticed the scent of pine and thyme in windblown gardens, I enjoyed the divergent natural landscapes where the crashing waves of the Mediterranean seas meet the calanques and mountains in this part of the South of France.

Some months before this happened, before the painting of the wall took place, I was in an insipid situation. A rather mundane work environment found me exhausted and I started to become a shadow of myself, lost somewhere deep within the unresolved small issues that were neither terribly exciting nor interesting. Finally, sick of it all, I took the advice of a loved one, to stop whining about this season in my life, and to do something that makes me happy each day. I decided, rather randomly, that I would pick out a toy camera I had in my possession, using it to take a daily photo of my surroundings. At the very least, I thought that I would enjoy the sense of anticipation while waiting for these film photos to be ready for collection. At the time, I was working in a location at the fringe of Singapore's Chinatown area. These streets were flanked with quaint oriental merchant shophouses and people who were acquainted with the old ways of living, unusual sights in my super modern city. 

I began to develop a sort of nostalgic feeling for the fragile moments of the every day.

These were, the minute infinities, my minute infinities captured on 35mm film. Then, I started to travel, always bringing along this camera to each location in my sojourn. Last year, I was in Marseille for a month. A glorious month, filled with sunlit hours on the pebble beaches, exploring on foot, the streets, the high places of green Provence. Hand in hand with him. Discovering that as each day passes, when I wake up to the joyful sun shining through the windows, warming my legs, that, this Marseille becomes a place imprinted on my heart. Right now, the guy from Marseille lives ten thousand kilometers away, from where I am, living in Singapore.

Neither one of us could dare to hope for a happy finale. Some stories hold insurmountable reasons for not ending well. But the sum of these minutes, our small fragile moments chasing a daydream, would be found in this whisper from my soul, to his.

 

You made my life beautiful.

 

Thank you for reading this story, and welcome to My Everyday Marseille.


The Next Project

Caravans at Summertime, along L'Estaque 

Doucement stories that will be collected into a selection of short reads, created by the residents living in and around Marseille.

We look around us for stories about the everyday, the joys and woes in the daily moments, your living, breathing moments. These travelogues and photo-essays are captured with a sense of nostalgia and spark, giving a poetic glimpse into fragile moments, love stories, and quotidian daydreams.

To read the stories please visit https://medium.com/everyday-marseille

An invitation for the residents in the South of France, those who consider Marseille home, past or present, to contribute stories. 

If you would like to be a part of this, please send me your details in the contact form on the next page.