Blossoming

I remember a colleague who came from a Big Company to work at our Small Company, because our Small Company was so cool.  Not cool in a hip way, but cool in a lots-of-smart-people and a really-appealing-product way.  This new guy was well-qualified, good-humored, and extremely squared away.  We were glad to have him because we knew he had come from the Land of Success and would know many tricks of the trade that would make us bigger and better.

He was gone in year.

It was hard not to take it personally.  We liked him and we were so….well…likable.  Why would he leave such a cool company just to go on to yet another Big Successful Company?  (Which he did.)

Then I thought about the first time the New Guy asked me for help. (I was his peer.)  He’d lean in my doorway and give me a scenario he was managing.  This was typical.  Our team always collaborated and calibrated and we’re always bouncing scenarios around.  No problem.

So he’d spell it out, then ask, “So, what do we do?”

I’d think for a second, then talk through my response so he’d know how I reached my recommendation.

He’d say, “OK.  So that’s what we do?’

I’d say, “Uh, yeah.  That’s what I’d do, at least. Does it make sense to you?”

“Well, sure.  I’m just asking if that’s our policy.”

“Oh.  Well…no.  I mean, we don’t exactly have a policy for a scenario like this, but it makes sense to me, so I think you should just do it.”

“Wow.  I can’t believe we don’t have a policy for that.”

“Hmm.  Maybe you’re right.  Maybe you should write a policy for that.  It might be good to have.”

He seemed baffled by the absence of a policy.  And probably by my apparent lack of interest in writing the policy myself.  He took my advice.  It was good advice and he agreed with it.

He did this several times.  And each time I’d give him my opinion, and he’d roll his eyes and say, “Don’t tell me.  There’s no policy on this either.”

“Nope!” I’d reply with a grin.

I could see this bugged him no end.  He clearly felt like he was suddenly doing business in a 3rd World country.  He missed his credenza with the neat little row of binders containing the wisdom of the ages. And admittedly, I felt a little embarrassed.  Like my company was so green and underdeveloped….

Wait a second.  I loved my company.  And the people in it.  When applicants ask my why I like it here, the answer is easy:  The people are amazing.  Smart, funny, inventive…resourceful.   Every day is a puzzle and everyone is here to help you solve it.  We ‘re masters of problem solving and complexity doesn’t freak us out.  I love that about us.  We don’t want a stinking policy manual.  We want to think.

We’re amazing.  He’s a fool.

Humph.

Wait.

He’s not a fool.  In fact, he was well-qualified, good-humored, and extremely squared away.  He just needed something different that what we could give him.  Structure.  Guidelines.

I was fine without a policy for everything.  Flying by the seat of our pants and problem solving was part of the thrill.

But for him, those policy binders freed him.  To do what, I’m not sure.   Maybe to straighten out the details so he could focus on the future? It’s hard to say.  Because I’m not in that world, and I don’t think I’d like it as much.

It’s made me realize, though, that just because somebody is smart and good-humored and squared away, doesn’t mean they’re a fit.

To be the best you can be, you need to find the root of your gifts.  The thing that floats your boat every day.  You need to know what you need to do your best work.

And find a place where your best work is what’s needed.

Then you can blossom.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/blossom/

policy-manuals

I Am Special

I hear her.

On the porch.  She’s opened the canister with the cat food.   There’s the crunch of the scoop.   Yes, and the sound of falling kibble.  And there they go, those damn cats.   Leaping through the hole made in the window screen, then dropping onto the floor with a velvet PLOP PLOP.

And then I hear her voice.  Her high, sweet voice cooing at them.

She’s up.   I can ready myself.

The sky behind the little house is orange and pink.   There’s a breeze and it feels good on my skin.   I do love mornings.

The peace is broken by a terrible commotion. It’s Sonny. He’s heard her, too. Although not until the door closed with a slam behind her as she went back into the house.   He’s not very attentive, that one.  He’s slow and loud.   Who put him in charge?  I think to myself.

I’m waiting now for another glimpse of her.   It’s like waiting for a jack-in-the-box to spring.   Except I never know where she’ll pop out.  Over there by the porch?  Around the corner where the big tree stands?

It’s titillating.  And maddening.  Because sometimes she doesn’t pop out at all.

I’ll wait and wait, sometimes through thirst, but mostly through cravings for the treats she brings.   Something rich and filling and flavorful.   So when she doesn’t pop out – when I hear the crackling and popping of gravel under the tires of her car instead – I want to join Sonny and raise some hell out of frustration.

But today is a good day.   Today she pops out.   My body is electric with excitement.  I pace and chatter with the others.  Busily arranging ourselves to receive her at the door.   Straightening up and pushing and shoving for a good position in the group.  It’s important to be close.  It’s important to look her in the eye.   It’s important to stay out of her way, yes…but it’s more important to be close.   It’s an art, this greeting.   And there are so many of us vying for her attention that it’s stressful.

Each of us wants a chance.  A chance at feeling that feeling you get when you’re fed.  The feeling of satisfaction and contentment.  The feeling of being loved and protected.  It’s a joyful feeling.

I can see in the distance that she’s carrying something in her hands.   I can hardly control myself.   The others see it too.   Suddenly we are all frantic with anticipation.   It’s strangely upsetting, because I know these are sinful feelings of greed bordering on desperation.   “Surely there’ll be enough for all of us.   Surely she loves us all the same.”

But I know she doesn’t.

I know that as kind as she is, and as hard as she tries to give us all what we need, I can tell by the look in her eyes that I am special.

When she sees me in the crowd, her eyes soften and she says my name.

“Grace.” she sighs.

The name itself proves I’m special.  She gave that name to me. She said it was because of my slender, willowy build and my pale softness.

“Grace.”

She’s here now.   She’s in.  It’s as though she never left and she’ll never leave again.   Our time together is the best time of the day.   The time in between is eternal.  But this time she’ll stay.  I just know it.

We have gifts for her.   We leave them here or there and we keep them warm for her as best we can.  It’s an honor to have that job.  It requires patience and dedication.  But the reward is that special moment when she’s particularly pleased with all of us.   She’ll stroke us and tell us “Thank you!” in that high, sweet voice.  Sometimes we’ll hide one or two as a surprise.   She seems to enjoy that so we’ll manage it every week or so.

Now it’s my turn.  The crouch.  The warm hands reaching out low and slow. The invitation.

I take a step to this side, then that.  I show her my colors and I stretch my long body for her.   She laughs and reaches further and I melt into her hands.

She holds me close. She rocks me and walks.  I’m weightless and warm. Safe from the ground and from the others.

And for that one moment, I’m not just any chicken.

I am special.

 

 

 

Are You Crazy Busy?

“How’s everything going?”

“Oh, crazy-busy, as usual!” with an exasperated sigh.

“Oh, yeah.” (Eyes rolling.) “Me, too.  Crazy busy!  Well, try not to work too hard.”

“Yeah. You too.”

This summarizes so many of the brief exchanges I have with the people I see during the day.  Work friends, mostly.  People I like.  Some of them I love.  But we’re all busy.  Of course.  And until resources are unlimited – or maybe not even then – we’ll all be “crazy busy”, and reminding each other of it every chance we get.

It would be interesting if one of us would respond, “Everything is going very smoothly, actually.  My work is fulfilling, and my team is happy.  We go home at a reasonable hour and get a good night’s sleep. Everything is going at a reasonable pace and I have a very balanced life.”

Our first reaction would probably be envy.  Accompanied by the thought, “Clearly you’re not working hard enough.”

It all seems so important. And so urgent.  Well….at least it’s urgent.

Last week, I came off of a “crazy-busy” period at work – an acquisition, preparation for a Board meeting, the start-up of a new system – when I stole away for a few days to visit a sick friend.

Wait, that description won’t do.  She’s not just a “sick friend”.  She’s a sick, friend.

First of all, she’s someone who’s been my friend for a good 30 years.  Since college.  We plugged through the 80s in a gang of friends who has stayed in close touch all these years.  The kind of friend who’s seen all your stages and moods and hairdo’s.  And still loves you anyway.  That kind of friend.

And when I say “sick”, I mean sick.  Like….in the world-renowned hospital where she’s now been for 7 weeks, the chief doc described her to a gaggle of med students as “the sickest patient in this hospital” sick.  Maybe it was the rare combination of four life support machines she was hooked up to.  “Take a look,” the sage doc said to his students. “You may never see this setup again.”

And that set-up worked.

It got her from a bi-lateral lung transplant (her lungs were failing as a result of a rare autoimmune disease she’s been fighting for almost 20 years), past a post-op pair of strokes, and back to independent breathing and even walking a lap around the hospital ward.

She’s weak, though. Her muscles have atrophied and she’s still being fed through tube in her stomach.  Now the biggest thing may be that she’s lost her stamina.  And she’s working hard to get it back so she can get the hell home.

She’s working hard.

She’s crazy-busy.

Every minute is a battle.  Mentally and physically.

I yanked myself out of my work life so I could offer some comfort and maybe some relief to my friend and her family.  I left what I thought was a crazy-busy period, and I got my definition of “busy” all cleared up.

As I sat in her room, trying to assess what she needed and offering feeble comforts like adjusting pillows or putting her hair in a fresh ponytail, I was spellbound by her.  Realizing that every hour is a battle.  And I was arriving at about the 1200th hour of hospitalization.  Nurses came and went constantly – changing her IV, picking at in-grown stitches, tearing dressings off her delicate skin, taking her blood pressure, checking her circulation, listening to her new lungs, unclogging her feeding tube…

She would glance at the TV and make a dry comment about the presidential candidates or Muhammad Ali’s funeral.  Then in the next breath who would say, “I need my anti-nausea medication.  Could you call the nurse?” and I would be reminded that we weren’t just sitting there together watching TV.  She was at work.  She was crazy-busy.

While I was there, her husband was able to get in some time at the office.  His employer is one of the smart ones.  The ones that know a “keeper” when they see one.  The ones that think of this “employee” thing as a long-term arrangement that’s stronger when it weathers bumps in the road with patience – and even generosity.  The ones that know dedication goes both ways.  And that loyalty begets loyalty.  And so he wants to work when he can.  When he has help.   I can help.

I can be by her side.  Letting her rest, and helping her up. Keeping her jacket close as we travel from the occupational therapy session to the physical therapy session. Following her with the wheelchair as she sets a new “personal best” record for walking distance in the hallway.

I’m a mother to four kids.  When they were sick or injured, I would defer to doctors and nurses initially, but when we were on our own, I would assume a position of confidence and command the situation.  I knew what to do, and I did it. Nothing freaked me out.  Not vomit.  Not poop.  Not blood. (Except once when I caught a glimpse of a deep gash across my son’s face that caused me to go weak at the knees…)

But in this situation – one so serious and so complex, I felt in over my head. Searching for a thing to do.  Re-arrange the pictures on the nightstand.  Offer a swab of water to moisten her mouth.  So I sat quietly, letting her rest and watching for signals.  Like an eager intern who is willing to make copies or wipe up spilled coffee.  Anything to just be here. And to witness this miracle taking place.  This hard battle….being won.  One obstacle at a time. Unrelenting yet all surmountable by my friend.  My strong, resilient, exhausted, well-loved friend. She knows what to do.  And she’s doing it.

My favorite moments were when her husband arrived to see her.  He would appear – having fought through his own “crazy busy” day – like a knight in shining armor, and our girl would glow.  For him.  Knowing they’d both had a big day.  And that they’d been together throughout.  For one cannot wander far from this situation.  Not unlike a mother leaving a newborn in good hands.  You have no reason to worry…She’s safe.  But you know where you really want to be, and even though work might provide a temporary distraction, the pull back to the bedside is strong.

And even if she’d had a bad day, she would gaze at him and smile. She’d tell him the truth about the day.  Ups and downs.  And he’d enter it into the detailed journal he was keeping in his head since forever.

Healing is a team sport.  In the center is the heart and soul:  the sick person upon which the team is built.  Then there’s the right hand and the left hand: her husband and their twelve-year old son.  Then there’s her Mom.  And her vast medical team. World class.  Completely committed to her.  Then on and on, in spiraling circles reaching out beyond that rock-solid core, are her family and her friends and her co-workers who fortify and cheer and cry and pray.  We’re clumsy and uncertain, but we’re earnest and in awe of her.

And now that I’ve visited the hot core of this star, I cannot get it out of my head.  Even as I return to my own routine and my many responsibilities, I’m humbled by what I’ve seen.  I think about things like breathing in and breathing out.  And chewing food.  And drinking water.  I’m still with her in that quiet room with the beep-beep of the machines.

And her lying there.

Crazy busy.

A Little Wish Coming True

image

My husband can draw.

I can draw.

Therefore, our kids can draw.

It’s a handy talent.  Like being able to whistle with your fingers. (Or without.) Being able to draw was especially handy back when I was a kid in school and people seemed to need stuff drawn all the time.   Signs for dances, book covers, flyers for parties…  That’s not as true today since you can download any image from the internet and a printer produces it for you.  Still, when you play Win, Lose or Draw you have an advantage.

Two of our kids are active artists.  Both have felt inspired lately and it’s a joy to watch.  Interestingly, their inspiration has came from very different sources.

Alex is inspired by all things Disney.  Her ability to capture the essence of each character and create unique and impactful designs is impressive.  The look of her work is crisp and professional, uplifting and thoughtful.  But even so, she’s after more than the look.  She delivers the messages tucked inside each charater’s backstory.  She’s laid in an impressive supply of materials for creating this art, from paint to pens, and from canvas to plaques. She’s a veritable happiness factory, and she does it with love and enthusiasm.

Liza’s artistic inspiration initially came from her dad.  The pieces he created in high school and college – ink drawings of soldiers in combat,  lithographs of fish – are scattered thoughout our home.  On the lighter side, he signs almost every note he writes with a cartoon of himself.  Liza wants to create, too.  Like her dad.  Something.

When Liza and I traveled here to Paris together, she imagined herself drinking wine in cafés with me and sitting in museums copying the works of the masters to train herself.  I bought her a sketch pad to encourage this, and we planned to visit art exhibits and museums.

Today her wish came true.

img_7294We found ourselves at the Rodin Museum.  There were many students sketching Rodin’s sculptures. Liza was thrilled to see this.  It gave her permission to participate. She searched for a sculpture to inspire her and found it in Rodin’s Madame Fenaille.  Liza stood there, flipped open her sketch pad, and began to draw.

imageIt was remarkable.

She was exhilarated.  Focused.  Deeply satisfied.

So was I.

I was watching my daughter beginning to find herself as an artist.  And she likes what she’s found.  She’s  energized.

I love seeing our children in moments like this.

I recall watching our eldest daughter, Kate, listen to 40 students talk about what they’d gained from the leadership camp they’d just attended.  A camp Kate created.  She was overwhelmed and humbled by the reality of the good her idea had done.

It happened, too, when our daughter Alex,  discovered where she wanted to be professionally.  “I’ve found where I belong, Mom.”   And I knew she had.

For our son, Louis, it was when he arrived at a decision – on his own – about where he would attend college.  The certainty and conviction he expressed when he announced this to his dad and I was so impressive.   He had taken charge of his life.  It was a moment I will never forget.

imageI’ve had breakthroughs in life.  Moments I discovered something I felt sure of.  But there is something particularly moving about watching this happen for someone you love deeply.  It doesn’t matter how their story turns out in the end.  Whether the choice they made sticks, or they change direction down the road.   What matters is that they experience that moment of discovery.  Of certainty.  Of optimism and hope.  The feeling that propels you forward to discover yourself and your purpose in this life.

A little wish coming true,

 

 

The Joy of Sitting

image

We’d had a busy day of sightseeing.  Time to put our feet up for a bit before dinner.

But through the paper-thin walls of our little Paris apartment was a pounding beat and the falcetto of the Gibb brothers.

No kidding.  The Bees Gees.

We couldn’t have an accomplished cellist or even an accordion player next door.   We had to draw a disco fan.

So the visions in our heads of Montmartre with spellbinding Sacre Coeur, the artists on the nearby square, the hilly avenues and the Moulin Rouge, are now playing to the backdrop of “Stayin’ Alive”.

So we listened and we chuckled. We imagined a bunch of French people next door jabbing their pointed fingers in the air then to the floor in rhythmic unity with the Bee Gees.

img_7291

Our sightseeing targets had been far flung. The Paris Metro was our friend, whisking us first from our apartment near the Louvre to the beautiful basilica of Sacre Coeur.  

Montmartre is my new “Happy Place”.  A spiritual peak.  First with the moving mosaic ceiling of Sacre Coeur and its Catholic busyness below.  Then with the streets teeming with artists painting portraits of tourists and Paris landmarks. Liza decided romantically to starve there someday as so many artists and writers have through its history.  

We wound our way down the steep backstreets to the Café des 2  Moulins – a diner made famous by the film, Amelie, a favorite of ours both.  I loved watching Liza take in every detail of the place, inventorying what was familiar, a smirk of recognition as she’d recall a scene. The patrons included a few locals mixed with fans of the film who’d made the pilgrimage and shyly snuck photos with their cell phones.

At the bottom of the hill for us rested the world-famous Moulin Rouge.  Another film reference for young Liza, who pointed out the apartment across the street where the poet in the film lived. It occurred to me that a city like this one takes shape in our minds from so many books and movies. Maybe that’s why Paris seems like an old friend even to a new visitor.

We easily slid into the Metro on a quest for the Eiffel Tower. We got off at Les Invalides, which required a trek through a quiet neighborhood where we tripped on a boulangerie we couldn’t resist.  There I was non-verbally abused by a Frenchwoman who didn’t appreciate my pointing at her macarons.  I was only asking “Vanille?” “Pistache?” “Citron?” She almost slapped my hand.

Worth it. 

Then we found ourselves at the base of the Eiffel Tower.   Where Liza got to sit.

img_7286Liza is a sitter.  Ever since she was a toddler, she enjoyed sitting and people-watching.   When we would take the four kids to Disneyland, the oldest kids would go out on their own, John would take Louis, and I would take little Liza.   The other kids wanted wild rides. Liza wanted to sit in the town square.  Just sit.  Cross her legs.  Gaze.  Munch on a pretzel.  Just sit.  That’s Liza.

So we sat.  And laughed and chatted. We ate our precious macarons and took pictures of the two left gloves I’d brought.  It was divine.

The Metro delivered us home after that. We’d covered some ground and were in danger of disturbing our commitment to relaxation.  To get things back on track, and to get past the Bee Gees next door, we decided to take a short nap before dinner.

When we woke up, it was 9:30.   Yikes.  I woke Liza.  “Are you hungry?”

“Oh yeah.”

“OK.  Let’s go.”

I’m dressed in two seconds. Low standards.   Coat on = ready to go.

And she hasn’t moved.

“Honey, are you hungry?”

“Are you?”

“I could go either way. Everything’s open until 2am, so it’s your call.”

Pause. “I guess I’m really not hungry.”

“OK, no problem.  I’m good.   Nighty night.”

I crawled back into my warm bed and started to write.

A few minutes later, I heard a little voice.

“Mom?”

“Yes, honey?”

“Are you mad at me?”

“God, no!” I hop up and run out to kiss her.   “I just don’t care if we eat or not.  Are you hungry?”

“Yes.  I kind of am.”

What the….  Then it dawned on me. “Do you want me to go get you something to eat?”

“You would do that for me?”

“Heck yeah!  I’ll do anything you like!” And I kissed her whole face until she giggled.  “Have you forgotten what a cool mom I am?”

And I went out into the beautiful Paris night -such a sacrifice – to find food for my baby.

img_0736 I found a perfect little pizza place with “Pizza Pour Aller” and I was set.

A bottle of red wine to make it perfect and Liza and I had a cozy dinner together in our little flat.

I’ll never forget it.

(And I venture to guess, neither will she.)

Café Magic

She wasn’t kidding.

She wanted a relaxed visit to Paris.  Her first visit.  A relaxed visit.  But what that meant, I could not venture to guess.

She wanted to visit a sight each day.  A relaxed pace.  Sounds nice.  Me too.  Nearly halfway around the world, but a relaxed pace.  Well, with the gray skies museums actually made sense.  So OK.

We found a special exhibit of Pablo Picasso at the Grand Palais.   What luck!  Her favorite artist. And I’d never been inside the Grand Palais.   I got reservations on-line and off we went.

It was great.

Wait, I know I should say more. It was a fascinating exhibit – complemented by multimedia features of peer interviews and collages of film and news articles – that juxtaposed Picasso’s later works with pieces by other artists whose paths were heavily influenced by Picasso’s.  Sadly bereft of earlier pieces from his blue and rose periods (I know, I know….go to the Musée Picasso for that), and a touch heavy on the erotic work he did near the end of his life (I had my kid with me, after all), it was nonetheless enjoyable and uniquely-conceived.  Picasso-worthy and approachable.  As a bonus, I saw my first Yan Pei-Ming piece (I don’t get out much) and now I’m a fan.

Like I said: it was great.

As Liza and I left the Grand Palais, we passed the long lines of people waiting in the drizzle to get in. Whew.  “What next?” I asked her, pleased we’d planned so well as to avoid these crowds.

“Would it be bad to say I want to go back to the flat and put on my sweats and sketch?”

I’m conflicted.  I have a conversation with myself in my crazy mother-head:

Liza is a talented artist.   I am her mother.  I must nurture her dreams, right? She wants to draw, I should let her draw. She could be the next Picasso.  I promised her this was her trip.

But…. we’re in Paris…France.  Good grief, she can draw at home.  

Then again, I’d promised her a relaxed pace.  A sight each day….

This is nuts.   I can’t let this happen.   It’ll be dark in 3 hours. 

So I decided to have faith.   I’ll keep my promise and let Paris do her magic.

“OK, let’s head back.” I said.  We crossed the Champs-Élysées, and I told her to look left.  The Arc de Triomphe.  Cool.  Such a famous view. She should be inspired. I could imagine the gloomy sight of German soldiers goose-stepping during the German occupation, and the glorious Allied troops marching down the same boulevard later.  

We took a picture.

And kept walking. 

She was still homeward bound.

I’ll try again.  “Shopping along the way?” I suggested.

“Hmmmmm….sure.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. I knew a great little shop near the rue de Rivoli with unique and reasonably-priced handbags.  Excellent.

Found it.   Closed.    Dang.  

Keep trying.

“How about a bite to eat?”

“OK.  Someplace warm.”

Ahhh.  Here it is.

I spotted a cozy cafe and in we went.   Red velvet chairs and big windows for people-watching.   Perfect.

And just as I’d hoped,  Paris took care of the day.  

Hot, delicious food. Relaxed pace.  Lovely wine.  Nice conversation.   Then espresso. More conversation.  Maybe some dessert.  And another coffee.

“I love this.” Lisa sighed.

So very French.  Four hours of unhurried conversation later, we’d had ourselves an experience. Delightful.

imageNow Liza can get home and do her sketching. Or Snapchat.  Or Twitter.

And I, too, am ready for a little reading, a little writing, and a warm bed.

A simple day.  A relaxed day.  A French day.

Well done, Paris.

 


 

Paris

There’s something about Paris.

As I sip my thick, black coffee and gaze out a centuries-old window to the confused rooftops of this rue Saint-Honoré neighborhood, I feel a sense of home that I don’t really deserve to feel.

I’m an American.  I live in a small town in Northern California.  I studied French in school, but I’m not fluent.  I enjoy art, but I don’t really “get” it.  I love food, but I don’t cook.  I love Project Runway, but I have no real fashion sense or style. My knowledge of history is spotty at best.

But I feel at home here.

I’ve visited this city more times than the average bear.  But only for days at a time. I know Americans who’ve actually lived here. Stayed here.  Studied here.  Long enough to do laundry.  Not me.   I’m a visitor.

But it doesn’t feel like it.

I first came here with two of my sisters when I was a college student, and Paris and I began to develop a friendship.  I admit I loved her for all the obvious reasons: the Eiffel Tower, the accordion music…  After 12 years of study, I knew enough French to arrange a hotel.  I practiced that phone call for a good 40 minutes before I dialed, and was stumped when the person on the line asked me a question that made me think I’d dialed the wrong number.  When I hung up, my sisters asked, “Well? Did you get us a room?”

“I think so.”

One of the sisters I was with, who is educated in the arts, really understood the significance of the Louvre.  When we were planning our limited time there,  I made the mistake of saying, “Maybe we should just skip the Louvre.  I mean, we could spend the whole day there!”

‘The whole day?'” she said. “Kristi, people spend their whole lives studying at the Louvre.”

It has become one of the most oft-told family stories.  And I didn’t go to the Louvre for 32 years after that.  Never had the time.

Paris and I liked each other, nonetheless.  She seemed to forgive my lack of sophistication, so I returned to her with my roommate as a young adult. I had just met a guy at the Bon Voyage party we threw for ourselves, and thoughts of him distracted me from my original plan to meet and marry a European prince.  Paris knew better.

Then I began to give her my milestones.

I honeymooned in Paris with that guy from the Bon Voyage party.  Sweet John. We stayed in a tiny room on the Left Bank.  We strolled the Champs-Élysées in the early mornings while all of Paris slept.  We visited John’s distant cousin and rekindled lost connections.  It was lovely.

Our first child was born nine months later.  That was 23 years ago.

I brought our two oldest daughters to Paris when they were young teens.  I felt as though I was sharing a discovery I’d made.  As though Paris was mine.  Another one of my sisters came, too.  We wandered through the Musee D’Orsay and savored macarons at Ladurée.  We napped on the lawn at Versailles and even visited dear Parisian friends. It felt good to be here.  Natural. She welcomed our kids and it made me love her more.

When my dear friend asked me where in the whole wide world I wanted go to celebrate my 50th birthday, and I hissed “PARIS“.  So we did it.  Two weeks later she and I were strolling along the icy Seine with my sister.  The spontaneity of it all was delicious.  We visited the Louvre that trip.  I won’t tell you how long we stayed, but my other sister would not have been impressed.

Our son traveled to Paris in the summer of his 15th birthday.  He stayed with our Parisian friends who have a son Louis’ age.  We knew he would love it.  And not just because the visit included a stay in St. Tropez.   We knew he would love it because it was Paris.  And he did.

And now I’ve brought our youngest daughter to celebrate her 16th birthday.  Liza is the last of our four to be here.  She brought her sketch book and wants to focus on museums.  She can’t wait to feel the bohemian vibe of Montmartre.  To sip wine with me in the cafés.  No touristy itineraries for her.

And I am pleased to oblige.

After all, this is not my first trip to Paris.

And God willing, it will be far from the last.

img_7284