Monthly Archives: May 2013

Provence, etc.

So I have little or no good explanation as to why I have not blogged in a month.  I guess my only excuse is time flies when you are havin’ fun. My daughter and her brood moved out about the time I took this hiatus. Perhaps I have been prone on the couch exhausted or luxuriating in the sweet silence of having morning tea alone for the past few weeks.

Mostly, I have spent the last thirty days (more like six months) preparing for and enjoying the trip of a lifetime.  My husband and I and our adult children plus an in-law and a girlfriend, took a ten day vacation in Provence, France two weeks ago.

I spent months researching and planning the details of our travels from where to stay, train schedules on weekdays to which hikes lead from which perfectly quaint hill town to another. I checked the weekly weather in France, prayed for sun and listened to French for Dummies on CD’s in my car.

I scoured the stores for comfortable yet Parisian chic shoes.  (Which in the final hour I did find and immediately bought in two colors.  Best packing move ever.)

I researched the lightest, strongest luggage for overseas travel, updated documents, cut my hair shorter to keep up with the younger ones who walk out the door with “wet head” and look adorable.  I dyed my eyelashes black, again to wake up perky and stay with the pack.  Needless to say, I put some thought into this trip.  We were celebrating my birthday with a zero at the end, my son’s 30th, our daughter’s 25th and we landed on our 38th anniversary. As though we needed even one reason to make such a trek, we had many.

Since our return, I have thought and thought about how I could write about this trip.  Without sounding like a PBW.

Which brings me to my main hesitance about this entry. My brother, who is a writer and faithful supporter of my blogging, wrote this to me not long ago.

“The great writers are always one of a kind.  What’s unique about them always comes through, and that’s what makes them great ones.  Think about it — you can recognize Poe or Fitzgerald after reading only a sentence or two.  I think what’s unique about you in this blog, as a blog writer, is this mix of privileged burb wife-at-the-spa (PBW) and heart.  These inner conflicts.  Most of the great ones are expressing  their unique inner conflicts —  even the unique stylistic features seem to come from these conflicts.”

So aside from him nearly comparing me to Fitzgerald ( a stretch but I’m running with it) my conflict here must seem self evident.  How do I write about this nearly perfect, ridiculously expensive trip and not sound like a privileged burb wife (PBW)?  And rereading his note, I figured it out.  I will tell you about it from my heart.

First of all, having all my children plus their most-loved others travel happily with me anywhere was magical in itself. Now granted, calling my kids and saying, “Wanna come to France with me in April, all expenses paid?” was sort of a slam dunk but kids can be kids and life throws up roadblocks. But this time it didn’t and we got an overwhelming “woot woot” on the first group email.

Secondly, we could have been at the Wisconsin Dells (if cell power was down) or in a log cabin in the Smokies (if there was no land line) and my trip would have been much the same.  Away from our daily routines, gathered in the same house for ten days, I had my kids with me dawn to dusk, without their thumbs tapping on a cell phone or them leaning into a computer screen.

We were all on a new and exciting adventure together where no one knew the way and we were finding it together.

Yes, the French countryside was so picturesque and heavenly perfect you almost expected the director, with a beret of course, to step in at each corner or field of lavender with his black and white clapperboard and say, “Cut, that’s a wrap!” (I’d write that in French but don’t know it.)

But aside from the exquisite beauty of our locale, the moments, the real moments, happened in the seven person mini van we so embarrassingly, American-lookingly traversed the countryside in, as a team.

With a European GPS, we would set out for a destination and invariably, there would be a glitch, at least one moment of right or left panic. But we rolled with it, laughed alot, mostly at my youngest who, nodding off at her window, said things like “Oh you love that French hand lotion so much. Should I arrange for each of you to bathe in it tonight? ”

Perhaps the highlight of our trip was the final night together. We had hired a cook, organic no less, (I know it oozes PBW) and sat around this great dining room table at our house with a fire roaring at one end. But before dinner, my son-in-law had the idea that my son’s girlfriend, who is a stylist for J. Crew, should raid all our closets, mix and match all our clothes and dress us all for the “last supper.”

Well, it was one of the best fashion shows I have ever seen.  She went into each person’s room with a pile of clothes and knelt and tied and cooed and smiled and made us all feel like movie stars.  Then we each emerged from our rooms, one at a time, before dinner and walked the runway around the pool.(I know, dear God, we had a pool!)

At dinner, all shiny and new with our revamped attire, we all talked about our favorite moments of the trip. And overwhelmingly, it was “What was the name of the waiter we had at lunch the first day?” or “Wasn’t it funny when we found out on the last day we had seven keys to the house and all along we had been juggling one?” “Maybe it was that crazy scops owl that made his mating call all night long, every night?  I was ready to go offer myself as a mate.”  (Again, my youngest.)

Alas, it was the moments between the moments that stuck in our minds. The little gifts my husband picked up at the flea markets we visited each day and presented to the “ladies” at dinner each night.  The late night dancing to iTunes cramped in the only tiny room in the house that offered Internet. The rooftop views of the Luberon Valley.  The church bells that chimed out our windows, 24/7 every hour on the hour and one at the half.

In the noise and the stillness, we were together in a strange land and always familiar to each other.

And that was the best gift of all.