The town of Les Arcs-sur-Argens.
flou (flew) adjective
blurred, hazy, vague, fuzzy
Il y a des régions qui doivent rester obscures. Ni floues ni ignorées mais simplement privées de la mémoire des mots. There are areas that must remain obscure. Neither fuzzy nor ignored but simply disallowed from the memory of words. --Hammerklavier
-- Au revoir Les Arcs --
On the freeway of life my car took exit number thirty-six and coasted into an obscure French town until the blur that was the countryside was no longer flou.* As a medieval village came into focus, so did its villageois,* whom I have come to know in a personal way, if not personally.
There is the grandma with the ketchup-colored hair and the jardinier* in the electric blue pantalons.* I wonder, do they know each other?
Everyone knows the camera-shy centenarian who walks his bike to the market each day. He was riding when I first came to town. Wobble, wobble, wobble. Either way, he still makes it in time to court the ladies at the superette.
I never did meet the Maghrébine* bride with swank in her stride, to whom the cobblestones are a catwalk. She is a black-eyed beauty with bleached blond locks who made it to motherhood before she made it to Milan.
So long to the man with the pointed black beard, tattoos from head to heel. You reminded me of hypocrisy: my own--as I longed to change sidewalks at your approach. I blame it on the alchemy of haze, in which recollections, preconceptions, and rejections cloud my thinking and cause me to doubt what I cannot properly see. Forgive me.
Nine years later and I'm back on the freeway, leaving another French town. From my rearview mirror I can't help watching the village return to the blur of the countryside, and with it, its people. I do not know their surnames, only their surfaces: ketchup red, electric blue, black-eyed and -inked. I think of the familiar faces that I may never see again and my heart laments the passing of strangers. Will they notice that the fair-haired woman with the fixed gaze doesn't live here anymore?
* * *
References: flou = fuzzy; un villageois (une villageoise) = villager; un jardinier (une jardinière) = gardener; le pantalon (m) = (pair of) trousers, pants; Maghrébin, Maghrébine = North African
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and read the quote: Download flou.wav
Il y a des régions qui doivent rester obscures. Ni floues ni ignorées mais simplement privées de la mémoire des mots.
The front yard of our home in Les Arcs-sur-Argens, where we lived from 1998-2007. We moved to this home in 2001.