One thing I have learned, repeatedly, is that life is tough, everyday. The unexpected, the predictable, the drudgery, the fun – all are accompanied by minefields of nasty that are substantially more distasteful than imagined or anticipated. Each day, some of this unpleasantness seeps into my soul and leaves me weary and exhausted. To counteract the misery, I travel.
For the past fourteen years, the chosen antidote to the nasty that life doles out (coupled with the winter doldrums) has been a winter/spring trip to Ireland. A cure like no other, it transports me to a place where I immerse myself in beauty, peace, and inner joy. I drink my fill of Guinness, devour multiple bags of Taytos daily, and drive with abandon like a local on the tiny, rugged Irish roads. I revel in the encounters with shopkeepers and barmen, where I gather my best stories. Life thwarted my best efforts a few times over the years by calling me to care for my dad versus assuming my wild Irish life, but the possibility is always as close as my passport and a delay only makes the visit sweeter.
But once in a while, something happens to change the path of predictable and comfortable, and even in my pre-determined wandering world, the course alters and realigns. A few weeks ago, scenes of Paris on the television screen sparked a conversation between me and my beloved about the possibility of a trip to France. Our last trip was magical! Cafe life and quartinos of wine, full blown cane sugar Coca-Colas and shops with racks of colorful macaroons – the images were palpable, transporting us back to the wonder we experienced. And that was it. Impetuously and impulsively, we decided, this year, to go to Paris.
Paris – in my mind’s eye, the setting fills the senses with romantic images of bridges over the Seine, the evening sparkles on the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Mona (only first name needed), and my own moment standing in the shadow of the L’Arc de Triomphe. My wounded and bruised psyche, a casualty of life, craves a Francophile redux and perhaps, I will once again dust off of my cobwebs from my sketchy ability to communicate in the native tongue of the locals (interestingly, eight years of French in school surprisingly kicks in once immersed in the environment). Of one thing I am certain, I crave a distraction and a change of scenery to anesthetize me from my aching soul.
So in a few short weeks, we will escape from the everyday to a place where magic and beauty and romance abound, which I hope will be a welcome change in an otherwise acutely difficult spell. I depend on this adventure to transport and transform my weary mind, at least for a short time. And if asked about my destination, I will reply, “Quand les choses se compliquent, les difficiles se rendent à Paris!” I think that’s a pretty “tres bien” reason!