Have you ever fallen in love with a place? It is very much like falling in love with a person – your soul feels like it has come home.
I first went to Saint Malo with my ex husband and our group of friends on a Bretagne holiday. This week was heaven and hell for me – it was becoming more and more evident that something was glaringly wrong in my life.
The day before we had gone to Mont Saint Michel – a sight I was very excited to see but in the end was a disappointment for me. There were also some private revelations and feelings that made it the worst day of the trip. The following day I had zero expectations – I knew we are going to visit seaside towns and that was enough for me. I am not a fan of warm seas – sea bathing and swimming doesn’t interest me, but give me the cold Atlantic with its rumbling waves – I’m all in.
We first went to Dinard which was cute enough, but did nothing special for me l. And then we arrived to Saint Malo and it was like a sigh.
We walked along the long sandy shore, saw a bride and a bridegroom jump into an ice cold pool, we ate delicious crêpes and drank cider.
I came to remember it as the last happy moment before the shit came down.
Fast forward to January 2021 where I was in desperate need to go away from home and find some clarity. In all honesty my decision had already been made, I just needed to find the strength to go through with it.
I loved the mood of a summer town in winter, it felt slightly off and melancholic – perfectly matching my mood. As if you were implicitly missing something that was meant to be there.
I spent two days in a studio facing the ocean, so at night I heard the waves rumbling under my window.
Leaving Saint Malo that time was incredibly hard because I needed to return home and home was the last place I wanted to be.
Fast forward through February and March, the collapse and the slow rebuild and I wanted to go the sea again. I think I might be a mermaid or a selkie deep down – I feel the call of the sea every now and again and I have to follow it.
So there I went again, in a completely different mood: free of worries, full of love.
I was on a writing high and luckily Girl in the Mirror was kind enough to provide me with music to write for. In one weekend I wrote Koi no Yokan, Lepkefény (HU) and its English version Butterfly Light (EN) and another song that in the end didn’t come to fruition.
I also worked like hell on Macchiatos.
2021 came and went and around February I began to feel the need of a holiday, so I booked the first available weekend in Saint Malo. It was a very different mood again. Free of worries, free of love. I continue renting the same studio, it has become my get away place. I take my little candles, my laptop and I work at the table, looking at the waves. I write a lot, but I walk more. Strolling on the seaside, I let my mind wander and ideas just come to me. It is a very special mood and I cherish it. If I ever make it as a writer, be sure I will buy a studio in Saint Malo and that will be my writing haven. (If I never make it as a writer, I will just keep on renting this studio 😀 )
Of course, there was no way Saint Malo would stay away from my writing. In August that is set in Normandy they make a day trip here (both in the past and the present storyline) and in Moon Over Pale Water that’s where Nora runs away when she is overcome by emotions.
He sits there. Like the figment of my imagination. Can you think of someone so hard they come true?
“How did you know I would be here?” I whispered.
“I didn’t.” He shrugged. “But you said you liked the sea.”
“But France is surrounded by sea on three sides.”
“You had so many postcards of this place above your bed. I just felt like I needed to come here.” < MOPW>
I don’t know what was it that charmed me in Saint Malo right away – it was a coastal town like any. And yet. The same way you click with people right away, you can also have the same connection with places. The weather was cloudy and way too cold for me to even undress to my swimsuit, but you guys were out of your shirts and jeans in a minute, running towards the water like puppies.
“You’re not tempted?” I asked Eve who sat on her towel in her long black dress, like a queen.
“No, I hate seaweed. Just thinking of its clammy touch on my ankle gives me goosebumps. And I’m afraid of jellyfish.”
“I don’t know if there are a lot of them in these waters, I think their butts would freeze off.” I laughed. I only noticed that I watched her speak how her red lipstick remained perfectly intact. There were just some girls blessed by the gods of makeup. <August>
“Have you ever been to Saint Malo?” I asked Isabelle, still clutching today’s letter.
“I thought we have concluded that I’m not the mysterious author.”
“We have, but you’re still the expert of this corner of France.”
“You know that appealing to my intellectual vanity is always the best entryway to my heart,” she sighed and put down her book.
“I’m not an expert on Saint Malo, though. I must have been there once or twice with my parents, but at the end of the day every coastal town is the same: a beach, pretty houses and seagulls shrieking above your head.”
I mimed shock.
“I’m sure all the lovely coastal towns would be hurt by you your salt.”
“Tough luck for them,” Isabelle said, throwing her hair behind her shoulder. “Why the sudden interest?”
“They went there,” I said, pointing at the letter. “It sounds like a lovely place. Not to mention the fact that Saint Malo sounds like Chamallow. It must be sweet and soft and wonderful for summer nights.”
“Will the sequel of Maple Syrup Days be Marshmallow nights?” Isabelle asked. <August>