Auvers, where you lived for such a brief period – the last of your life – in 1890. Auvers, where you painted seventy paintings in seventy days. Auvers, where you shot yourself, where you died, where your bones still reside.
A block from the train stop, things look familiar.
The town hall.
Ghosts greet me.
The Auberge Ravoux, where you stayed, and my goodness that crystal light and blue, blue sky – clear as a bell.
This building has become a little chapel to you, the restaurant and facade restored and preserved as much as possible, down to the menu.
The back yard now has plaques full of your biography, and yes — your room is open to the public. They allow us to enter in small groups; it is a startlingly small space. Here you lived, here you piled up your paintings, here you stumbled back to after shooting yourself in the field, here you died with your brother holding your hand two days later.
Apparently after that it was deemed “the suicide room” and no one would stay there. The room was never altered or redecorated. It is the same today as the day you died.
It remains quite full.
The entrance to the room:
I touched this. You touched this. I let my fingers run over the door knob, the lock, the handle on the window. I wondered if the cracks in the walls had formed since your death, or were there to begin with. I breathed in.
A friend I had made the day before captured the below images. Many thanks to him for taking them, and allowing me to share them with you now.
Affected is not a strong enough word.