My sweet love, thank you for the beautiful bouquet, so unexpected. Touching your cheek, your hair, regarding you first, before I can hardly bear it any longer and lean in to kiss you. Mon amour par la mer - is that where you are? I wouldn't mind being on an industrial waterfront with you, looking at the lapping waters even if we are surrounded by gargantuan container ships. The sea's the sea as long as you can get close to it... well, no not really, there are whole gradations of sea experience certainly. But I'll take whatever little bit I can get with you, even if it is sitting in a little car parked in a vast asphalt lot as dusk settles on the fogbound unnatural harbor and twinkling lights all around come on one by one like stars as black night falls.
Or we can blow this North Sea hamburger stand and transport ourselves, say, to the coast of Maine instead. Ah, much better. My love, you do love the sea, don't you. I get that sense. Oh so many places we could be, but it's dusk now. Earlier in the day I would have suggested a walk on the beach, and a snack of a lobster roll from a roadside shack. But at this hour, perhaps a meal in a restaurant. The maitre d' leads us to a table by a window that at this hour still - before night falls and we can no longer see out - affords a glimpse of rock, water, and sky. It's an old tucked away country inn, built in the 1800s, or maybe earlier, or later, or maybe even recently, but whenever it was it has style and charm and is perfectly scaled and fits with the vernacular of elemental Maine. And so a lovely four-over-four window. (Why am I going on so much about architecture?!) We peruse the menus as we sip glasses of delicious minerally white wine. A glinting candle on the table lights our faces as we read, and I look at your beautiful face illuminated in the rosy flickers...
Oh honey, I don't know what we eat or what we order - more wine most likely, and perhaps, let's see - a seafood risotto - or perhaps we're not in Maine, or it's a super-gourmet sophisticated restaurant, because I'm not at the moment in the mood for the captain's catch fried platter with fries or baked potato, your choice. Blue cheese or Italian? Do you want your coffee now or with dessert? Pie, apple, or triple chocolate cheesecake bombe with peanut butter and oreos, unless we're out of it.
No, darling, I want someplace very simple and elegant. Thou, moi, a little table, a spare white candle, silence except for murmurs from other reclusive dining couples scattered around the room, gleaming floors, perhaps even the house's cat, venerable soul, coming to greet us. Because you see it's not an exorbitantly expensive place, snotty & ritualized, it's simple & lovely & relaxed. And I'm starving now and forgot my readers anyway but I always knew that what I wished was a seafood risotto... and you order, let's see, well I don't know - oh - the same! For which I'm grateful because it makes my writing at the moment a bit easier darling, I'm tired, and in a hurry to get those plates on the table, and before even that the waiter gone with our orders, so that I can simply sit with you in this lovely intimate room with the wide-planked floors and soft lighting and the view from our own private window, by which our little table is tucked, of vast gorgeous mysterious ocean, gray ripples to the horizon, skies dark in the distance, gulls no longer circling. I look at you, and you look at me, we regard each other. And across the table, by the flickering candle flame, we reach out to each other and clasp hands. And imagine the delights of the meal ahead, and even more so, what will transpire soon after when we retire to our room upstairs for the night - it's a tiny inn, darling, and our room, made up, awaits - and so we hold hands and sip wine and smile at each other and look out the window as the skies darken, clouds tinged pink swirling and billowing over teeming granite sea. Dusk settles and outside the walls, where within is only the sound of clinking glasses and murmurings, somewhere in the distance a foghorn sounds.
Sweet dreams, darling.
Henri Le Sidaner (French, 1862-1939), Rooftops in Moonlight, 1910, oil on canvas, 65 cm (25.59 in.) x 81 cm (31.89 in.), private collection