Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ooh la la

My temperature is rising!  I am about to take the tarnish of the past away from a city that has called to me since adolescence, since Audrey Hepburn said “Paris is always a good idea.”

I knew that when I would finally meet Paris it would be significant and while I have journeyed to France many times, sampled the grape, even generated a French version of The Big Chill in a 17th century villa in the Languedoc region, I have avoided actually going to Paris.

Once upon a time yearning for romance I booked a long overdue trip with (as Buns puts it) my wasband, to Paris. I found out on the eve of our departure that he was living a double life. He took the mistress and I donned bunny slippers and a housecoat to shuffle around on my birthday feeling sorry for myself. I was a hot mess for a time. 

Then began my excavation into understanding that everything…absolutely everything can be a catalyst for authenticity and joy. I had only a few choices I realized, fight (and turn bitter in the process) or flight (and entrench in the hopelessness of a victim). 
The third choice I had to learn to make and it remains my most cherished accomplishment…. how to spark gratitude and stretch into opening my heart no matter what. Softening in the midst of pain turns my armor into an invitation for connection.

So cut to today. My birthday is coming up in August and I wanted to make a plan that shouts YES to the forces that be.
Yes, I am alive and loving it! 
Yes, I know who I am and own it! 
Yes, I can allow all those around me to truly be who they are!
I invite authentic connection by being real. I let go of the rest. 

So when I got an email from an old friend, someone who actually was at The French Big Chill reunion years ago, asking me to join him in Paris and further adventures in the south I paused. I was torn between sharing a lake retreat with friends as a birthday celebration and the European trip, not to mention my son's very important out of town graduation.

He painted the journey like a moving postcard and challenged me.  ‘If you really want to shake things up, he said, why not do it all!”  I love your sense of romance, however I think you are sacrificing a potential of  'unknown wonder' by trying to construct one, at a certain place, on a certain day.  By which, it already has exposed certain limitations.”    I have wise friends, what can I say. 
He went on to seal the deal by inviting me to sit back and allow him to be in charge of everything.  And then later, like an experiment (see he really does get my experiential essence), you can decide which event, a planned one or a leap of faith into new discoveries, holds greater significance and why.
I was more than half way convinced but when he wrote “Trust me, let me show you around and just sit back and soak it all in and meet new friends along the way.” I melted.

So I said YES to Paris! And yes to a Parisian blind date I met on the internet, just for fun. And yes, to the Love Lock Bridge where I plan on creating a ritual that marries me to me. More on that next post.

I inhale this itinerary and relish the sensation of imagining it in advance. After a few days in The Marais in a typical French flat, sunlight streaming through floor-length windows, enjoying  baguettes, café au lait, and fresh produce from the market, we drive to his friend’s place for music, good wines, and creative interacting. Then across the south of France to a vineyard owned by friends, through to Avignon, and if time permits a detour to the gastronomic capital of Spain, San Sebastian.  Eventually of course there is the inevitable and mandatory jump into the Mediterranean at Collioure, then lunch with a bottle of fresh, crispy pink wine! 

The soundtrack in my head flirts with strains of La Vie en Rose and some French ditty Maurice Chevalier once soft shoed  to in a film with Audrey or some other waif like ingénue.  I am a walking cliché. Quelle domage!

Branded by the vowels in ooh la la:

Authentically Yours,

Mademoiselle Marty


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