This morning I was enveloped in a womb of seaweed paste, covered head to foot in a green gorp, then wrapped in plastic like a log of fresh cheese. For an hour, I incubated in the basic elements of the sea, again going off into that strange half-conscious dream state, a slightly hallucinatory soup of sounds and thoughts of my childhood, people I’ve loved, dead relatives, fears, joys, regrets. Many regrets.
And then Claire came back into the room, gently waking me, telling me to take a shower, wash off the elements of the ocean.
“Vous êtes complet,” she said. “Vous pouvez rentrer.”
I am complete. I can go home.
I spent a very long time under the hot shower, thinking about all this, and then I dressed and went back to the reception room where Claire was waiting for me. I gave her my red robe and towel as well as the red slippers, which, she says, I can keep. For a souvenir. Perfect.
“How do you feel?” she asked.
“Like a man who has been reborn,” I told her.
She nodded. “This is something we often hear. It is a good feeling, yes? It makes your heart happy? Now you are balanced from the sea.”
Tomorrow morning I will drive over the arching bridge that connects the island to the mainland and back to Bordeaux where I will catch a flight to Nice. I will miss Île de Ré. But I will take some of it back with me. From the salt, the oysters, and the wine, but mostly from the sea.