Eyes Around the Table.

being lit up by the eyes of one’s tribe in the South of France

family around candlelit dinner table at nightI have a warm and persistent memory from my childhood. It plays like a timeless movie in my imagination. It represents a seed in my development as a storyteller.It’s summer, and I’m with my family at my grandmother’s breezy “villa” in the south of France. Around 4pm, the feast routine is well in motion. We’ve shopped at the street markets of old Antibes for tonight’s dinner. Very loose, but very committed food preparations are underway. Picking the ends off green beans here, smoking and drinking coffee or white wine there. Work is getting done, but the simple joy of it obliterates any sense of obligation. Little by little, we finally sit down to dinner around 7 outside in the back garden near the lotus-covered fish pond with a view to my grandmère’s Egyptian wall paintings. There are perhaps 12 of us, with cousins, aunts, and uncles. My joy in the gathering is impersonal in that I’m not tuning into each participant so much as I am to the underlying feeling of tribal love that holds the whole process together. There’s joking, teasing, arguments, laughter, exasperated complaints, exclamatory praise - it all just fits. Amidst a feast of roast chicken, succulent tomatoes, black olives, zucchini, blue cheese, wine, grenadine, and unspeakably glorious pâtisseries, dusk passes seamlessly into night, and the candles take on prominence. Facial detail gets lost as the blue-black evening fills with jasmine and the candle-lit shine of so many eyes gleaming in celebration through the rising and falling of conversation. Participating. No one has an age. I am in wonder of the living story. I am home, bathing in the eyes around the table.

by Eric Pomert
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