What do you know that you’re pretending not to know?
As I sit here overlooking the garden of the rental flat here in Provence, everything looks copacetic. The 90 degree+ heat of the day has not set in, nor more importantly, begun to bake my (practically) windowless cement box that was advertised as a quiet country paradise.
I didn’t get to sleep until 4 am last “night,” as I tossed and turned in the heat and winced at the groaning noise the fan made every revolution or two. And, worst of all, I had a sinking feeling that “I knew it all along.”
Even before I arrived at this rental, I knew there were going to be major problems.
What did I know that I pretended not to know?
The biggest thing was how joyless and uninviting the interior of the flat is. The living area consists of a table and four chairs, plus a couple of arm chairs that are slightly more comfortable than the dining room chairs. No sofa to lie on and read, nothing comfortably upholstered to sit on in the whole flat, precious little space and fewer windows. Those windows—one small 2x 3’ one in each floor—should be kept shuttered and shaded 24/7 apparently, in the owner’s point of view.
How could I have known this? All the photos on the rental site were pictures of the outside—which is lovely and does have a pool as photographed. I use that pool every hour that I am in the flat as it’s the only possibility of maintaining a normal body temperature.
The website did state that there was no air conditioning. Okay, fair enough. I am not a Texan or Floridian who requires air cooled to 60 degrees when it’s over 90 outside. I prefer a breeze and natural air. The website clearly did not state that there was no way to cool down the flat, especially since there are almost no windows and the bedroom is upstairs.
For some reason it was hard to scroll through those pictures to photos of the inside. In fact I may have booked before I even figured out it was possible to do so.
Lastly, though pictures clearly featured the pool, there were ambiguous statements about it being available—there were references to meals which made me wonder if it was only available at breakfast time. (This may have been due to the website’s translation from the French. The owner’s English is quite limited.)
What did those photos reveal, if I had been duly diligent? NO photo of a couch or easy chair. No photo of any living area. Photo of a plain Jane bedroom—a bed, a bedside table, that’s it.
I did see the bedroom and console myself, “Oh, I’ll just be sleeping there, it will be all right.” Not my smartest conclusion….Just as my last rental in Paris, which was fine except for the street noise, taught me to always book an interior facing apartment in Paris, this rental has taught me to look for windows.
Now it may be a thing of mine, but I require windows. In Provence, they must open and allow for good air circulation. I did stay once in a hotel in Stockholm that had no windows in the room. Even though it was winter and lacking in natural light for more than a few hours a day, the lack of windows made me just plain crazy. I checked out after one night.
Now closing living quarters off in the heat of the day is standard operating procedure in this neighborhood. These people have lived in this intense dry heat for more years than I, is there something they know that I don’t?
It does seem that if your living quarters are a concrete box, and 90+ degree heat beats down on it all day, that some way to cool it off in the evening is required if one isn’t to turn into something that’s come out of an oven fully baked—with one’s sanity half baked.
Even more subtly, there was an energy to the whole posting that said, “I’m telling you this is a great place to stay. I believe it (because I want the rental income) so you WILL like it too. The energy is best summed up as a subtle absence of any concern for the point of view of anyone other than the renter. And that’s the biggest thing I sensed, before even arriving, but didn’t acknowledge to myself. The location was perfect for what I wanted to do, I told myself. The price was quite good. None of those were questions that could have revealed to me more about the place. I could have asked myself, “Is there anything that I’m missing here?”
That energy that was present but foolishly not acknowledged by me was confirmed on arrival. There was no energy of the host attempting to understand my French accent. I admit it's bad, but there was no sense of going a bit towards half way on her part. Second, on arrival, the information for guests consisted of a bunch of rules and a list which itemized every single knife, fork, spoon, and every other cooking utensil–as if I would dream of or even desire to take any souvenirs of this accommodation!
Now, what does all this have to do with relationships? I have so often seen people enter into relationships and marriages that are obviously doomed from the beginning. If they won’t be ending in divorce, they’ll be ending in the terminal unhappiness which is a worse outcome, from my point of view.
Yet people enter these all the time. Once the relationship unravels, I do use this question with people, What did you know that you denied you knew or pretended not to know? It won’t fix the ended or ending relationship, but it will give them a greater awareness of how much they actually are aware of in the area that they don’t acknowledge. That can facilitate a better choice next time.
The same applies to me.
So in some ways this hell hole of a rental is a gift—I will not ignore the energy of the rental postings ever again.