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March 17, 2023

Waiting in vain

10:35 a.m. at the head office on Wednesday morning
Argh! This morning, I am irritated. I have been waiting for three days for the confirmation of a meeting and nothing is happening. I have checked my text messages and emails every 10 minutes since yesterday. I’m waiting to be contacted by the person I am supposed to meet this week. But I wait in vain.

This is a decisive meeting for me; one that will nourish my intellect and mental well-being. This long wait annoys me and distracts me from all other thoughts. I drink two coffees in a row and still NOTHING. Hiding away in my office, I learn the meaning of new words: grumble, gripe and grouch, like a teenager deprived of Netflix.

When I finally calm down, all I can think of is writing to you. Yes, dear readers! You are my favourite refuge, my island of happiness where I love to lounge. I still can’t tell you about the purpose of this important meeting, but if the outcome is positive, it will fill my heart with joy; and yours too indirectly.

Sometimes I think that I’m too old to rise to new challenges. But then I think of one of my favourite icons, Iris Epfel, and I bury this nonsensical idea of being too old at the bottom of my secret garden. My enthusiasm is revived. Becoming an entrepreneur back in the days served me well. I excelled at what I did and I was fearless. I remember it well. I rushed like a bull into the matador’s red cape in the arena.

My cell phone rings twice for something or another, but not for what I was waiting for. I don’t answer. After I calm down, I leave my office, taking you along as I roam the long corridors of the head office. I pour myself a third coffee in the kitchen. Would you like a cup?

Did you know? My baptismal name is Marie Antoinette Cora; the name of a very important French queen, the wife of King Louis XVI. A queen who died at 37, guillotined at 12:15 p.m. on October 16, 1793, at Place de la Révolution (now called Place de la Concorde).

In those days revolution seethed through the crowds and anything could happen, a queen could even lose her head. Coming from Austria, young and noble Marie-Antoinette arrived at the court of France when she was just 15. From the very beginning of her marriage to future King Louis, heir to the throne, it was obvious she found it hard to adapt to French customs and, once she became queen, she committed more blunders, often unwittingly, which gradually alienated the people and had a disastrous effect on her public image.

Poor queen, and happy me, who still has a good number of years ahead! I love life, it’s ups and downs and its many-faceted beauty. Now that all the arteries of life have opened up, maybe you and I could start thinking about new adventures. Pour yourself another coffee, sit down quietly with a notepad and let’s write down a list of all the things we’d like to try before we leave this world.

We can start by writing down in no particular order everything that comes to mind, and then we’ll order by priority. The goal is to identify the experiences, wishes, dreams, desires or challenges we’d like to pursue. In other words, let’s create a bucket list. I’ll share my own list with you below. I’ve done it before, during the pandemic, but maybe I am a lot more audacious today? And maybe bucket lists are like smoke detectors: It’s best to check them once in a while. So here’s what I would like to do before my heart extinguishes:

1– Visit Paris, one more time, especially Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mère Poulard in Mont Saint-Michel and Les Deux Magots, a café where Verlaine and Rimbaud, my favourite poets, once frequented.

2– Go to the opera for the first time in my life because I’ve never taken the time to appreciate the beauty of the human voice before. I made up my mind and I am going. I will see Madam Butterfly in Montreal this spring. It will be a nice gift for my birthday, in May.

3– Visit Sweden and, more specifically, the boutiques of fashion designer Gudrun Sjödén and her collections that are in tune with all of nature’s colours. In another life, I would have loved to have been her neighbour and been employed in her workshops.

4– Visit Iceland, the home country of my favourite writer, Andur Ava Ólafsdóttir, who wrote Miss Iceland and The Greenhouse. To go around the island a few times and admire its spectacular beauty.

5– Find a haiku master and take one of their creativity classes for sheer pleasure and to improve my poetry.

6– And of course, publish a new book or two before my thoughts completely dry up, like an abandoned well.

Someone has in fact made me a book offer. I said yes, and now I wait in vain for this darned meeting to be confirmed and I’m just about to run out of patience. It’s the most precious goal on my bucket list. I want to do it and I know I can do it well.

– “Hello, Madame Cora. I was supposed to confirm our meeting last Monday, but I was at a book fair and completely swamped. The fair’s huge hall was packed and fans waited in long lineups at every kiosk to speak with the authors. I apologize, dear Cora! The good news is that there is a reading boom happening. It’s my third book fair this season and it’s been crazy!”

The editor enthusiastically confirms our meeting for Friday morning. Finally I can calm my nerves. People still love reading and apparently they love it more than ever. Perhaps I will get the chance to meet you, dear readers, at one of these book fairs? My heart fills with hope; my life expectancy has just lengthened by a few years. Paradise can wait a little longer. May it wait until all my words have left me.

📚 📖 📚