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September 30, 2022

My heart is returning

Dearest Lilianne B., you are absolutely right. I shouldn’t have thrown that bottle in the water. When I conjure up my soulmate, I lose my mind and all logic stops. I imagine my bottle floating along, travelling thousands of kilometres across the oceans to finally land on a deserted island. And there, by sheer luck, an old sailor in tall rubber boots is searching for fresh mussels for dinner.

I apologize a thousand times to all the oceans that my bottle will traverse. Please forgive me, too, dear Liliane, for I am only imagination and old age on two legs, unable to give up on true love. In my mind, I can hear the mussel shells clattering together in the pot of boiling water. I can smell the aroma of the bread that my hero has just put back in the oven. Inside his small house, I look for the utensil drawer, a tablecloth, two large bowls and two cups.

My soulmate smells like the sea. His wrinkled neck looks like the carapace of certain shellfish, and his cheeks like driftwood that has been polished smooth by the waves. His strong arms are like two parallel docks between which I want to moor. His eyes, sparking purple-blue beacons; his hands, platters of abundance; and his voice the soft singsong of a charming whale.

I can see music notes escaping from between his lips and a silent poem shaping in the purple of his eyes when he stares at me. My soul hears him. I get closer to a window and the sea enters my heart. I would love to find my bottle and hand my message to him in person. I want him to know that I exist, that I have been waiting for him for a thousand years.

Dear Lilianne B., a huge thank you for allowing me to dream a little. Life is so long and so short at the same time. Love is everywhere you look and yet it is so hard to catch.

I go to Walmart from time to time and peruse the food aisles like an explorer on the hunt for something new. I make sure our dry Cora Crêpe Mix is on the shelves. Available in plain and chocolate versions, it’s a treat at any age, with its delicious hint of vanilla. The manufacturer insisted that my picture appear on the back of the packaging. I am very moved; available across Canada, I have the sense that these crêpe packets are keeping me alive in the hearts of all Canadians.

I visit the pencil aisle too. Last month, I filled up on the attractive Paper Mate Handwriting No. 2 in all the beautiful colours of the rainbow. I’m the type who continuously takes notes. Anywhere I go, I always have a notepad in my purse. Since the memory storehouse in my head is wrinkling too, I write down everything important that happens to me. Well, at least everything that is fit to be told!

I went against my daughter’s advice and got my hair permed again. I have no talent for styling my hair and the tight curls suit me well. Back in the day, nearing my fifties, I rid my head of its dyed-blonde hair meant to catch the fellas’ attention. As if I could have fooled them! I was too busy to start any relationship during all those years in business. Sometimes I would try, but when strangers confessed their interest, they were too intimidated by who I was for us to have an open heart-to-heart. Business, during my time anyways, had an aura of seriousness that created a barrier to personal connections.

At the time, I was known as Barabbas in the Passion. Everyone wanted to say hello to me. I particularly remember the men during those days. They approached me only to express their admiration for the businesswoman I was. And the female would stay hidden. No one could see her. Everyone lauded Madame Cora. And the woman quietly faded from sight. I would let them admire my worldly success while ignoring my empty heart.

And so life goes on, I guess. We can’t win on all fronts. I decided to do what would feed my children. And at least they learned how to cook. Where are these women hiding who have managed to have it all in life? How many are there that possess love, success, family and glory? Like the great Édith Piaf would say, je ne regrette rien (I regret nothing). I am making up for it today. I smile to everyone I meet and, very often, I feel like my colourful outfits make me ten times more approachable than the suits I wore back then. I am no longer a CEO, but a young girl on the threshold of maturity, a young-old woman looking for sincere friendships. And I already have a few: Adèle and Neil, Éric, Marie-Pierre, Claude and Carmen. Even before my business venture, my emotional life was a big fat zero. My father loved my mother like a madman when he married her, but my mother was in love with a Protestant the Church forbade her to be with. And I quickly learned that being deprived of love can affect a heart for an entire lifetime.

I am still rebuilding myself. My heart is slowly returning, one small block after another. And maybe one day, it will know what human love is.


P.S. — Dear Lilianne, I too get the feeling that you are my friend and that I have known you for a long time. I must tell you that your wonderful comments keep me alive and happy. You are very dear to me, like all the strong women who faithfully read me and express their kind words in the comments.