mardi 10 juin 2008

Bidart. The beach at sunset

It's 1990.

Since I got back from Israel I'd been working on a temp contract for an old boss. She was the regional manager for - at that time - a big holiday company.

I went into work one March morning and she asked me to join her for a cup of coffee.

"What are your plans?" She said.

"What, as in plans for life?" I replied, like the 20 year old I was.

"For when you finish here. Your contract is due up next month."

"No idea", I replied. I'd been secretly hoping it was going to be extended. Apparently not.

"I've got an idea." She said. "How's your French?"

Two weeks later and I was on a bus (yes, a bus) heading to the south-west of France. My old boss, God bless her, had gotten me a job doing the admin in a resort office for the summer.

It was such an easy job - make sure coaches were booked, hotel rooms were confirmed. Make sure the tour guides knew their rota.

I was working with three girls - two from the UK, one Dutch and generally I worked two hours in the morning and two in the late afternoon. This left me plenty of time to sit on the beach and ponder my fortune.

July rolled around, as invariably it does at some point most summers. It was hot and humid and every few days a storm would come down from the Pyrenees and hit us with some welcome cool air and rain.

It became our habit to go the beach for sunset. To take down some beers and watch the sun disappear. To light a fire, to smoke some joints, to lie in the sand with whoever we were in love with at the time.

July happened to be a lean month for me. And I walked down to the beach with Stephane, the boy who worked in the local campsite shop during the day and occasionally in a bar in town in the evenings. I'd had a crush on him since I arrived at the end of March - for which the girls never tired of taking the piss out of me.

This one night, it was just the two of us. Remarkably, the girls and their boys didn't show up.

We sat down on the beach next to each other and had a couple of beers, smoked a little, watching the beautiful pink sunset. He leaned in and we kissed. In near darkness we lay there together and enjoyed the cool night air.

"Allez, come on" Stephane said. "I've got something to show you".

I didn't want to move. But wherever he was going, I was going with him tonight.

We headed back into the town and the square had been invaded by locals and tourists alike, mostly drunk, all having a great time.

It was the first Bidart town-square dance of the season and there was music and beer and merguez-frites. Everyone I knew was there and everyone wanted to dance.

The girls told me that Stephane had asked if we could have the beach to ourselves that evening and that we'd meet them here later. They nudged and winked and said they hoped it had been worth it.

We kept dancing, drinking, laughing until the wee small hours and then a big group of us headed to the beach.

As the sun came up we dropped our beer bottles, stripped off and ran into the sea.

Stephane grabbed me and a wave crashed over us both, knocking us to the ground.

We lay in the surf and he kissed me.

"Happy Birthday" he said.

I was 21.

16 commentaires:

Swearing Mother a dit…

Wow. Beats getting pissed at the Opposite Lock and chucking up on your shoes.

Nice one Travelling.

Anonyme a dit…

That is one amazing birthday! I loved reading this story.

Lewis a dit…

21? So, this was two years ago? Fantastic romanticism at its best. Can I lay in the surf with you sometime? I promise to behave.

aims a dit…

The memories of young love - young romance - so wonderful!

Now if you and Lewis don't end up with a room out of this - I swear......

travelling, but not in love a dit…

SM - the opposite lock? that kind of goes along with the Rum Runner, Snobs, Faces...I remember falling all the way down the stairs at Faces, a little worse for wear - I'm not sure I spilled my drink though!

Marjolein, thanks, it was good reliving it!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lewis - the last I'd expect (or even want) from you is for you to are a bad, bad man.

Aims, oh yes - young and in love....I remember it well....

Ben a dit…

That was absolutely beautiful. And that's from a professional cynic as well.

By contrast I spent my 21st on a bench by a dual carriageway in Victoria (London, not BC) eating sandwiches on my own. Even my mum forgot.

You can imagine my jealousy reading this.

Stew a dit…

A happy post.

Makes me happy too.

But then Ben made me blue again.

Daryl a dit…

Ahh .. that was so sweet .. I could actually feel that wave, the salt on his lips ...


travelling, but not in love a dit…

Ben - that doesn't sound like fun, regardless of it being a big birthday! Not at all glamorous...

Stew, yes a happy I getting too miserable?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Daryl, it was sweet for me too...and a little salty!

Swearing Mother a dit…

Opposite Lock, Gas Street Basin area. That's where I saw Pan's People live (as in Top Of The Pops, before your time). And a right scutty bunch they were too.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Sweary, I remember Pan's People - it's definitely not before my time!

But I'm a little bit stunned that they had the cheek to do live performances...what on earth did it consist of? Dancing to other people's songs? Weird....

Swearing Mother a dit…

Weird indeed, though at least 50% of the audience thought they were HOT. I just thought they were scruffy. But they could certainly dance.

Anonyme a dit…

well I go away for a few days and you end up in the sea with a sexy young dude.
Makes a note to check when I go away for two weeks :>)
Nice post you old romantic ( not being ageist just valleys )

travelling, but not in love a dit…

VM, see all sorts of things happen when you don;t check by regularly! ha ha.

And it'd be impossible for you to be ageist to me - on account of me being very very yound indeed!!! I wish.