Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday is travel day

I had this fantasy once: wouldn't it be nice to have, someday, a cottage in a distant corner of southern France? A small place, one that would welcome me every year? I could write, dream, walk, observe... It would be sublime!

Lack of money was, of course, the great stumbling block, but as I came to hang out with Ed, he convinced me that it was a stupid idea. Even as a dream idea. If you want to escape to some village in France, just find yourself a spot there that you like and go back to it. Rent a room, rent an apartment, sleep in the ditch, but for heaven's sake, don't dream of buying something! Maintaining a home is a huge headache, not a blessing.

He was right of course. And I am very glad that I never could amass the resources for even as much as a downpayment for such a place. I have no good friends in southern France. I love my family here. I have my sister and lifelong pals in Warsaw. Why would I want to squander time and money on a place in France?

But with Ed by my side, the idea of at least returning to some spot in southern France took on new life. The search for a well situated village began. It took a while, but finally, in June of 2010, we found Sorede. And eventually we discovered a rental unit that we liked and so we went back. In 2011, 2012, and 2013. And in my vision we would keep going back until we could walk no more.

What was so special about Sorede? Its great allure was near perfect weather (especially in late spring or early fall) and the fact that it has nothing going for it. It's not a tourist destination. There are no attractions. No beach, no museum, no amusements -- nothing. Indeed, the people of Sorede are not used to tourists. The villagers make no special effort to accommodate them. (Though there are a number of vacation homes and Sorede does attract a small community of expats: British, German and Scandinavian. They go there for the sunshine and rarely mix with the local people. You can always spot them as they are of norther complexions and the sun does them no favor.)

And yet, Sorede was close to everything that I loved: it's just at the Spanish border and that in itself was attractive to us. Ed and I explored the Catalonian region of Spain quite thoroughly on our way to Sorede and on the return. But honestly, I loved best the weeks in Sorede itself. That cafe bar on the vast square! And the Pyrenee foothills, spilling right into the village. And the vineyards. And the olive groves. And the sweet little coastal towns that had once attracted a vibrant colony of artists. And of course, the sea -- just a ten minute drive! A swim in the gentle cove, or playing in the shallow waters of Franqui beach were nothing short of sublime.

But as you know, in 2014 Ed said no to travel. He had had his fill and so our trips together had come to an end.
Didn't you like our time in Sorede??
I did, gorgeous, but I don't want more trips. I really prefer just to stay home. Don't you like our home?

We went around like this many times, but I knew it was no use. And, too, if Ed doesn't want to be somewhere, then you don't want to be there with him. His disinterest is palpable and it makes for a miserable stay. Just read back to our very last trip to Turkey and Greece in the winter of 2014. He was miserable and slept way too many hours in my view. Most often I ate dinner alone.

Oh, but I have missed Sorede! I play songs that we listened to on the radio there and I still choke at the strength of those memories!

My best pals, Diane and Barbara were sympathetic. And one day, when I again moaned how I could never go back to Sorede without the company of Ed, Diane spoke up: we could go with you instead!

And that is how it came to be that today, I will be boarding a flight to Detroit, then Paris, then Montpellier in the south of France. From there it's just a two hour drive to Sorede. I'm to meet Diane at the Paris airport tomorrow. Barbara is driving up from Spain, with her husband Shmuel. The four of us will hang out for a week in Sorede together.

This morning is a blur of packing and organizing the farmhouse for a week without my tender loving oversight. (Ed laughs that I always clean just before I leave and clean immediately upon my return.) There is breakfast, of course...

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And I throw some water on just a handful of the more tender stuff...

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The rest will do fine. We're at the end of the growing season after all...

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And I do pick up Snowdrop -- a little earlier than usual and unfortunately, without a protracted playtime in the park. Just a brisk romp...

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Brisk but joyful!

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For one thing, it includes fifteen minutes on the swings. Short, by her standards, but exuberant nonetheless.

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And then I drop her off at her house. I'll see you in a week, little one! I miss you already...

Ed takes me to the airport and I wait for my connections to France.