On our way to the Pont du Gard on Saturday we called in to a boulangarie we had seen on our first day here, Marie Blachère Boulangeire. It’s a chain of bakeries, there’s many of them around but we packed this one because of the parking – plenty of room for us to fit in without bumping anyone. Yaa.
By Saturday we had been there three times and the lady was beginning to recognise us. She didn’t quite understand my version of French so she always helped out by speaking a little English. I wanted an Americano but with extra hot water – no one in France wants this so it’s always more difficult to explain. Added to that the queue in every (yes, every!) boulangeire is long but moves surprisingly fast because the servers zip through the orders. Zipping through the orders does not allow for hard to understand Irish tourists. But this lady slowed down and got what I was trying to say and I got my hot water every morning.
On Saturday, maybe because I was so excited about going to the Pont I forgot to buy our daily baguette but she realised I had forgotten and brought it over to me when there was a break in the queue. Then she said, that’s for you and wouldn’t take payment! Are you feeling the love? I certainly felt it.
And at the same time I was conflicted. It’s hard to accept a gift, isn’t it? I find it hard. I wondered what should I do for her. But what can I do… just accept her kindness and feel grateful? It is something I have been thinking about during the pandemic times. I received such generosity at times when I could do nothing to repay it and I was uncomfortable. But when I got the opportunity to be generous, giving felt so good that I realised accepting is necessary. For giving to happen, accepting the gift is part of the contract. Accepting is part of human connection. It’s Give and Receive, not Give and Give.