Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Crazy Good

So my life has been crazy all year so far. I usually keep up a pretty fast-paced schedule, lots of travel, lots of family, horse stuff, all the books--but the start of 2016 has been extraordinary even by my standards. There was that whole Newbery Honor thing. The Josette Frank. A big trip during our daughter's spring break, to see our son, all that time I spent in Florida with my horse, and I've never even mentioned in this blog the weekend I took my husband off to New York for his Christmas present, which was tickets to Hamilton.

So before we could draw breath my husband and I went to Paris. This was nuts on many levels. We were going to be with our son, even though we just saw him 2 weeks ago and he'll be home in another 2 weeks. We went for only long weekend--flying out Wednesday night, so that we arrived in Paris late Thursday afternoon, and leaving for home very very early on Monday morning--not much of time for such a big effort. We had to leave our daughter home with my mother--though nobody could see that as a disadvantage, my daughter got to spend several days soaking up her grandmother's love and full attention, which I don't think has ever happened before, and which they both seemed to revel in.

But when my son was planning his semester in London, my husband and I asked him, if he could do anything with us while he was there, what would he chose? And he said he wanted to play golf in Paris again with his dad.

We took a family spring break vacation to Paris several years ago--I think five? maybe six--and, being golf fanatics, my husband and son played golf in Chantilly, Fontainbleau, and a course just outside Paris which is quite private and quiet and beautiful. They had a marvelous time, particularly in Paris. (Meanwhile, my daughter and I toured the chateaus and towns of Chantilly and Fontainbleau, and went on a private chocolate tour of Paris. It was win-win.) That round of golf was one of the highlights of my son's high school years.

So they did it again. My son took the train from London to Paris and met us for dinner Thursday night. Friday they played 36 holes of golf, while I walked the city, meandering through the markets and gardens and a couple of museums, stopping to drink champagne on a sidewalk cafe, and gleefully taking a photo of my book TWTSML on the shelves of the English-language bookstore on the Rue de Rivoli. Afterwards we had an amazing dinner together, then had ice cream back at our hotel.

Saturday we started by touring Sacre Coeur, the white church high on Paris's only big hill. My husband and I suggested we take the Metro, or at very least the funicular from the hill's base, but my son has gotten used to walking the length and breadth of Europe, and he said, "You'd seriously pay money to avoid walking up a hill?" so we did not. We went up the Arc de Triomphe and through the Opera House and up and down city streets until it was late at night and we were watching the light show on the Eiffel Tower, and then we found ice cream at a sidewalk cafe. We like ice cream.

Sunday we went to Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, met friends for lunch, saw our darling boy off to the train station. I was ready for a nap then, but my husband wanted to see Sainte-Chappelle, and then there were some other things to see, and then another good restaurant, and then it was time to sleep for four hours and head home. It was crazy short and crazy to do and crazy good in all respects.

Years ago, when I first started recovering from a major bout of depression, I could feel that our family  was getting smaller, less adventurous, more guarded in response. My illness had been a very big deal so this was a natural reaction, but I didn't want us to live that way. It seemed to me, then and now, that we can either work to expand our personal worlds, or we can let them shrink. I took charge and planned a trip for all of us to the rainforest of the most remote part of Costa Rica. My children were frightened, my husband supportive but skeptical. It turned out to be a fabulous, healing adventure. Ever since my husband and I have tried consciously to expand our world. Paris wasn't new territory for us, but deciding to pack up and travel more when our lives were already spinning so fast was new. It was the right choice. Our son has another great memory, and so do his father and I.

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