Paris! 2

We made an impressive spectacle, emerging in full bridal splash as one after another of our cabs pulled up to the entrance of Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole.

An emissary was dispatched to announce our arrival when the door burst open and Georges flew out in a fluster of French to greet us. Wrapped in his exuberant hug, Joy looked like Beauty with her Beast! Comical, cartoonish even, from the white curls springing uncontrolled from his head, to the overstated nose, pouchy cheeks, and ponderous jowels, Georges, taken in parts, was a troll. But mere seconds later, we all loved him.

“Please, follow me to your private salon,” and we did, up a winding, storybook staircase lit by amber lanterns. Once there, Georges passed cups of a savory broth and poured champagne like a Frenchman!

P1080389The first of many toasts began here, to the night, to the future, to Paris, and to the bride and groom who made this exceptional experience possible.

P1080388There were other delicacies offered by Georges and his minions which we nibbled and slurped with giddy abandon. My eyes wandered over each one present. They were chattering or listening in happy enjoyment, and I was awed by the utter incomprehensibility of this random group being brought together by fate, or perhaps, by love.

Georges’ next appearance summoned us to dine. Once again we trailed his awkward form into a room grander, if possible, than the first. Red damask wallpaper, gilt mirrors, and a table glittering with glassware brought gasps of delight. In a conversation earlier that day, Joy had recounted to me some of the e-mail conversations she and Georges had exchanged while preparing for this night. He wrote that wine was included with dinner. That wasn’t enough information for Joy. How much wine? she wanted to know. His answer, Unlimited! satisfied her.


P1080390Joy and Kellen presided over the evening like royals. They had asked each of us to prepare a blessing or some words of advice to read to them at dinner. I debated…blessing? Words of advice? Blessing? After all, with my track record, who am I to be dispensing marital advice? But in a sudden flush of defiance I stamped my mental foot. “No! Dammit! If I haven’t learned something from all that effort, shame on me!” I went with advice. They’ve had my blessing for years!

I am embarrassed to say I don’t remember what I ate. It was good, but the wine was better, and there was so much of it!

What a day. My sparkly shoes walked miles with only one blister.

Back at the apartment at last, there were groans of relief as corsets came off and Kellen ditched his tie. As soon as she was freed from her bridal finery, Joy’s voice echoed from the kitchen.

“I’m going to make pizza.”

“You’re kidding, right? Tomorrow is the Eiffel, and another late night dinner. Wouldn’t it be good to maybe sleep a little?”

“Oh no! I’m hungry for pizza and we picked one up when we did the food shopping.”

So Joy made pizza and the three of us sat in the glossy, red kitchen, in the chic Paris apartment at 36 Rue de Turbigo, sharing the night until 4:30 a.m. That probably wasn’t smart…I told myself as I dragged the blankets over my body without bothering to wash my face or brush my teeth. But this is Paris after all…



The plane was boarding when I approached the gate at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar. Snarly traffic stretched the drive from the usual one hour to an additional forty-five minutes. It was perfect. Engaged in Made’s gossipy prattle, I was spared the boring, clock-staring wait in the airport.

Jostling my way down the congested aisle to 28A, I saw that the seats beside mine were occupied by two women who appeared to be in their mid forties. Bridget and Lizbeth were just the right combination of reserved friendliness. A few pleasantries then they busied themselves and left me alone. Perfect.

Nine point five hours slid by with two Hindu vegetarian meals, wine, tea, four movies and a cat nap which landed us in Qatar for an eight point five hour layover. I hate long layovers. As the shuffling line of passengers departed the plane, I bid my new friends farewell, safe journey, happy life, and set out to find an internet kiosk where I could alert the world that, “Here I am in Qatar!” via Facebook. That done, I scoped out a lounge area where the barrel-shaped chairs upholstered in red faux suede were draped with sleeping bodies. As I passed, one form came to life, shook itself, and hurried off. I claimed the vacated space. It felt like a king-size bed compared to the cramp of the airplane seat and I dozed on and off through the relative quiet from one to five a.m.

But even at 5:00 it was still two hours to boarding. I walked through the glitz of fragrance laden retail surprised only by a shop selling high end hijabs. Until now I’d only seen basic black. The store was a feast for the eyes. Fabrics in bright colors, jeweled trims, embroidery and lace made it clear that the garments on display were not for the budget conscious. They fairly screamed wealth, excess, and Western values in this predominantly Muslim country.

I found my gate, not yet open, and an empty chair along the corridor. After a few minutes I kicked myself for not coming sooner. It was people-watching paradise. Arab men in white robes with billowing scarves arranged nomad fashion on their heads strode with pride and purpose, deep in conversation. Black shrouded mysteries whose eyes peered through small, rectangular slits, floated by. Petit Asian women with tight leather skirts, over-the-knee-sliver-studded boots, and swooping necklines giggled as they wobbled on stiletto heels. A granny wearing vintage Converse hightops, skin hugging violet leggings, and a bouffant, sheer blouse that ended at her waist exposing to full view the effects of time and gravity on her ancient buttocks, passed, stopped, turned, and retraced her steps. I felt terribly ordinary.

It was almost a disappointment when the boarding call tore me from the fascinating view.

For the second leg of the journey, a mere eight hours and thirty minutes, I would be on the largest passenger plane in the industry to date. With seats for 800 people on two levels and a wing span that could stretch across a small country, I settled into my seat with appropriate amounts of awe and trepidation. How does this work again? Air passing over the wings creates lift…? The laws of aerodynamics…ummm? I turned away from the window and there, sliding into the seats beside me were Bridget and Lizbeth.

“Seriously?” I said. They nodded, laughed, and just like that we bonded more intimately than best friends. “Did you choose these seats online?”

“No, we should have, but they were assigned to us at the ticket counter.”

“I selected mine online…what are the odds?!”

The rest of the journey passed in the comfortable presence of familiarity. Departing the plane at Charles DeGaulle in Paris I told my new bff’s that I expected them to meet me in five days for the flights back to Bali, that I really couldn’t bear to sit beside anyone else. They assured me that they’d be there. Liars!

As I traversed the long jetway, cleared immigration and then customs, my mind raggedly shifted gears. I mentally pulled up the map of the Paris subway system that I’d studied in great detail online: airport shuttle to terminal two, red line to Paris center, one transfer at Halle, then two stops…


“Joy! You’re here!” We threw our arms around each other, squeezing and swaying in the mother/daughter hug that is so familiar and so deeply missed.

“We got in an hour ago and waited for you….Kellen’s with the luggage right over there…”


So it began.


From the subway we trundled our bags to 36 Rue de Turbigo, an apartment in the center of Paris. Towering blue doors and wrought iron balconies dripping red geraniums, screamed charm.



Francesca met us with keys and instructions for the state-of-the-art appliances that occupied the glossy, red kitchen. With hardwood floors, an ornate Louis XIV fireplace surround, and soaring ceilings, the two bedroom apartment held a boggling mix of sleek modernity and historic charm.

Up to that moment, Kellen had been leading the charge, way-finding in the underground tunnels and navigating the twisted streets. But when the door closed behind Francesca, Joy assumed the role she was born to: Commander in Chief. Joy plans. Joy makes lists. Joy multi-tasks and organizes. Joy delegates. But mostly, Joy leads and others willingly follow. Such was the case the moment suitcases were stowed.

“Time to buy groceries! Who’s coming?”

Kellen and I snapped to attention stopping just shy of a heel-clicking salute. Fired by a tireless energy that thrives on over commitment, Joy had invited all ten of her wedding guests to a Thanksgiving dinner in our apartment that she planned to cook that night: herbed chicken, sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, baguettes and a cheese plate served up with bounteous bottles of wine.

“There’s a market a few blocks away, and a cheese shop, I saw them on Google Earth,” she says as we follow like obedient ducklings. And she’s right.


An hour later, laden with produce, poultry, smelly cheeses and bread, we met Jessa, Dan, Jenny, and Kennen on the street. It was a fresh round of hugging and happiness. Then Joy lassoed her herd and ushered us into the wine shop.

“Everybody choose a bottle,” she said.

Kennen glanced at me, “I know what you want,” He pointed to a Maison Louis Jadot Pinot.

“I can’t believe you remembered…it’s my favorite!” Dimples creviced his cheeks as he gave me a knowing grin.

I don’t know how she did it, but when everyone arrived at seven p.m. a veritable feast lay steaming on the table.

P1080271 Jenny and Kennen added dessert to the mix, two tarts, one raspberry, one chocolate, so beautifully contrived that to cut into them took some measure of courage.

P1080266 P1080268Conversation hummed, animated, excited, expectant, until each one hit the jet-lag wall.  Another round of hugs and the group shrugged into their coats and left for their hotel two blocks away.

“Brunch back here in the morning…eleven o’clock…then home to dress for pictures!” Joy chirped to each one as they left. In spite of the wine, the overstimulation, the belly full of rich, unaccustomed food, I remember nothing from the moment my body found the bed.

Joy, ever the morning sprite, was mixing eggs for omelets when I peered into the kitchen the next morning, rubbing the grainy remnants of sleep from my eyes. P1080285The meaty salt smell of bacon accompanied the sizzle and pop as it rippled into crisp brown strips. The fairies, or gnomes, had come in the night and cleaned the kitchen. Joy said it was Kellen. My love for the man doubled in that moment.

The wedding party arrived, boisterous and rested, heaped their plates with buttery croissants, pancakes, omelet, bacon, yogurt, and strawberries, and ate until their eyes rolled back in their heads.

P1080289 P1080300

It was a good thing that the wedding festivities were planned for today. By tomorrow I might not be able to zip my dress. My diet of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and a little rice in Bali keeps me trim. Joy doesn’t consider that food. She made certain that we had our daily quota of bread, cheese, meat and unlimited quantities of wine. Nobody complained.

Stuffed to a fine stupor Joy issued the next set of instructions. Be dressed for photos and back at the apartment to catch taxis to the Pont Alexander Bridge at one o’clock.

There was no time to lose. My most important job was clearly ahead. I’d been entrusted with the task of lacing Joy into the corset part of her bridal ensemble and buttoning the bustle. In a flurry of frothy white she donned the gown and I commenced lacing and pulling until the perfect hourglass shape was achieved. I felt tears welling as I gazed at her. She was busy applying makeup so she didn’t notice, but memories washed over me in a churning stream of nostalgia and my throat constricted with remembering. It passed so quickly, childhood. Birth to graduation to marriage, a blur. Now, in the presence of this beautiful, accomplished woman, I felt the weight and the privilege of motherhood. All of my fumbling best intentions that fell so far short hadn’t ruined her.

“Can you bring my shoes, Mom?” Her request shook me out of the past and I hurried to do her bidding. The final result was ravishing and I caught her essence as she turned from the window and flashed one of her heart-stopping smiles.


The afternoon took us from the bridge, to Notre Dame, to obscure Parisian alleyways. Thousands of photos were taken, but these are some of mine:

We were lucky with the weather. Paris can be nasty in November, snow, sleet, rain. We had a mild day in the high 50’s. Perfect. But there was more to come…so much more…

Four days til Paris and…uh oh

It’s a daunting task to assemble the appropriate attire for a winter wedding in Paris, the height of the fashion world, when you’re living basically barefoot in a small tropical village in Indonesia. But given enough time and a little ingenuity, it’s possible.

One essential item for the trip, however, eluded me. Socks. I no longer own a pair of socks. Socks were not even a remote speck on my radar until I googled temperature in Paris today and read 4 degrees Celsius. That’s a balmy 40 degrees Farenheit. At that moment I knew I was in trouble. I’ve acclimated to hot. Eighty feels chilly to me now. I imagined my feet without socks at 40, a sickly bluish purple color. Not acceptable.

In the mountains in Kintamani I saw people wearing socks. Ketut is from Kintamani so I asked him where I can find a pair.

“At market,” he said. “Many many.”

I confess, I’m not comfortable with the Ubud market. First of all there isn’t a breeze ruffling the tight packed stalls and repugnant odors waft through like incense. The air sits hot and still and sweat pours off me in torrents. There are hundreds of cubicles selling everything from penis bottle openers to raw chicken feet and they all have hawkers offering “good price,” some more aggressive than others. But it can’t be helped. I must have covers for my poor feet.

The Ubud market spills out into the street

Outside the Ubud market

It was probably just shy of 95 degrees as I entered the first building. “Buy sarong?” the woman asked as I approached.

“I’m looking for socks,” I said in my most confident Indonesian. “Can you tell me where to find them?” The woman jumped up gesturing and waving her arms uttering a string of sentences so fast it sounded like one, long word.

I watched the direction she was indicating and I pointed, in a comradely sort of way, in that same direction nodding my head up and down, eyebrows raised as if to say, “That way? Yes? Is that what you mean?”

“Ya, ya,” she said and gave my shoulder a little twist and shove in the right direction.

I took off the way that she’d indicated until I rounded a corner and a new vendor vied for my attention. “I’m looking for socks. Can you tell me where to find them?” It worked before and this time the response was similar. Her directions brought me to the old part of the market where everything negative about the place is intensified about 200%. But another shopkeeper was offering “morning price,” so I rolled out my question a third time. This woman didn’t waste words. She grabbed my arm and hauled me up the broad concrete steps to the second level. Then pointing down a cluttered alley she sent me off. At the end of the aisle was a pillar covered with socks.

I paged through the ankle socks, the Hungry Bird socks, the Nike sweat socks, my hope dwindling. But then, right there behind all the others was a pair of black knee-highs. A brown arm reached over me and plucked them off the rack. “These you want?” she said.

“Are they my size?”

She eyed me, “Ya, good for you.” I asked the cost and she told me.

“Local price?” The price for foreigners can be significantly more than what the Balinese pay for the same goods.

“For Bali people same,” she said.

I fished out the bills, handed them to her, and stuffed the socks into my purse. A sense of well-being drifted over me. I’ve braved the market, tracked my prey, found it, killed it, and dragged it home. It’s taken months to assemble all the pieces, but the Paris look is complete and I’m so ready to BE THERE!

Do You Dare to Dream?

It’s getting better. I resisted my middle-of-the-day nap today. Went instead to Costco for a few groceries. BIG mistake! I was quickly overwhelmed by the abundance of people, products, everything. But I did manage to walk out with the vegetables and rice I needed to make Indonesian food, and that was the goal.

So this afternoon I boiled the rice, chopped the veggies, opened one of the precious packets of Gado-Gado sauce I brought home with me, and sat down to pure delight. The flavor was exactly as I remembered it and I savored every delicious mouthful. Then I pulled up my e-mail and found a note from Brigitte, my German friend. She told me how much she misses Bali, how she had started crying and hugged the guide who had taken her all over the island when he dropped her at the airport. She said she is planning to return in October. Her confession made me feel more normal.  I am not the only one experiencing separation anxiety!

I love the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The fiords of Norway struck a chord deep in my cells. Luxumborg inspired one of the best poems I’ve ever written. At Unmunsa in South Korea I simply wept from a too-full heart. In London, Paris, Lucerne, Budapest, Simrishamn, I embraced the cultures and the people with intensity and joy. There are wondrous places all over the world where I have been inspired and delighted. But Bali feeds something much deeper. Bali is the perfect lover and I have been seduced. Voluptuous and warm, it generously gives with no thought for itself.

Where is it in the world that speaks so eloquently to you, dear friend? Do you dare to wonder? Do you dare to dream?

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