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Matisse, France, Travel, Creativity, Adventure, Expatriates, Dreams, Reinvention


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Matisse, France, Travel, Creativity, Adventure, Expatriates, Dreams, Reinvention

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April 24, 2003

Note: We are back from Arkansas with sad hearts but an even greater appreciation of our adventure. My dear mother's death reminds us that life is fleeting, and every day must be lived with heart and vigor. I am behind in posting our journey but will catch up in chronological order. This time away has somewhat changed our itinerary, but we will hit all the spots-just not in the order we had originally planned. Our days and nights will all be here including this unexpected and tragic turn of events.

Crazy Woman Incoming

We'd been in Auray working for seven weeks, and I was burned out. I couldn't do everything I'd been trying to do-researching, writing, photographing, looking for hotels, scheduling, tending the website, sending letters and emails, updating files, searching for sponsors, and managing what needs to be managed at home. Jim was exhausted from writing.

The answer? A few days in Paris for R & R!

The day had arrived. We'd successfully bought our TGV tickets the day before (another small victory), gotten up early to pack our bags, and excitedly driven to the train station. We were off to Paris and didn't want to miss our first train ride in France. We'd made grand and small plans for the following three days. While Jim parked the car, I ordered us coffees. He walked in the door, and I asked about the tickets. He searched his briefcase and pockets and couldn't find them anywhere. He'd left them at home! He ran back to our Peugeot and zoomed away. I sat there trying to remain calm drinking my coffee, thinking he wouldn't make it. We'd have to buy new tickets or take the next train. I didn't know when. I was trying not to be mad. It could happen to anyone, but I wanted to kill him. We'd been looking forward to every minute that we'd have in the beautiful capitol, and he'd become trés forgetful.

Fortunately, he knew right where they were-on the bed-and returned in time to save himself from my potential murderous capabilities. We arrived in Montmartre at 1:25, took a taxi to our lovely and chic Hotel Saint Germain, and checked in with Daniel. It was wonderful to see him, magnificent to be back in Paris and our gracious hotel home. Our room was charming. We had an enticing view of Paris rooftops and an ivy-covered terrace across the street (a view M. Matisse might've painted). Finding the bags we'd left waiting in our chambre was an intimate and welcoming touch that we relished. Then opening them and discovering what we'd left was Christmas morning on a March afternoon. We were utterly sick of the clothes we'd been wearing. (I accidentally ruined a sweater in the wash. Yippee! I threw away a pair of pants that were bedraggled and baggy. Ha ha!) These old garments of ours looked spanking new. We packed up winter and pulled out spring, at least as springy as we had packed last November.

We greeted the marvelous Saint Germain owners, the elegant Monsieur Malvic and his stylish mother, and we were off to the Marais. First stop was a haircut for Jim-close, short, and Hollywood hip. Next was a late but delicious lunch at the Maison Rouge, where the sliding glass windows were open to the warm, sunny day. The trees sprouting baby leaves were blowing in the wind. It was divine, and we drank champagne to celebrate.

There were errands to run in the city. We walked by a spa I'd checked out before, and I made an appointment for a pedicure. I'd wanted to go the the Carnavalet for years and never made it. When we walked by the handsome gate and garden, we discovered the museum was not only open but free today. A lagniappe had been handed to us, and we strolled in. What a classic and superb exhibit of Paris's colorful history and an homage to the decorative arts in the Carnavalet's architecture and decor of the rooms. This was an unexpected treat that we happened upon, and Paris is full of such enchantments. It is one of her webs that she catches people in.

We were even happy to step through the doors of the BHV, where Jim bought more Moleskin notebooks and new underwear-an infrequent event for him. He despises shopping anyway, hates to go and look for underpants especially. That evening we met our friends Ruben and Patricia at Le Fumoir, but it was too crowded, and we ambled a few blocks to the Café des Invités which was modish with good music and a nice ambience. We laughed, talked, and discussed the war that is closer than we thought. Jim and I have been isolated in our work as the world has been upheaved. Ruben gave us a fabulous invitation to his art opening in September before they had to leave. We will be delighted to attend. It was completely satisfying to be back in Paris, to walk the familiar streets, to stop in at the places we know well. Paris feels more and more like home.

I turned on my computer the next morning, but it brought back the craziness of the past few weeks. It was too much. I made the bold decision of leaving it off the next couple of days.

Having a hair appointment usually thrills me. I enjoy the luxury of someone washing my hair (the best part), of seeing myself revived and perked up. On our second day in Paris, I had my second hair appointment since we've been in France with the same excellent hairdresser. But he is not Toad, who has been my hairdresser for 20 years, and I never had to tell him anything. He's divined my look for so long-dying mousy locks to vibrant copper and cutting each coiffure to be precise and edgy. We know each other well. He understands my personality and attitudes, and any eccentricity of my strands. , I left his shop feeling fresh and revived-looking more like myself-having had a good visit with my old pal.

These are the things you forget-that your new hairdresser probably doesn't remember what you'd told him before, and he doesn't know you. I showed him a picture again, and he "got" the look. He achieves close to the same color, but I don't speak good enough French to gossip with him or tell my secrets. A color and cut is a longer process here, and with my frayed nerves, I thought I was going to have a panic attack. Freak. Flip out. Go running from his salon with the screaming mimis. Getting away from work and taking a rest in Paris has given me the space to feel my nervous weariness. You know how it is when you're in the middle of something that you have to get through, and you keep going on and on. Then after it's over, you collapse or get sick. This was the state of my body and head after working too long and hard.

I left the salon with a copper Modern Monk hairdo, hailed a cab to rush me to the spa where my pedicure was scheduled (which I'd thought I would cancel because of lack of time), and went in and begged for a massage appointment as well. This was not pampering. This was therapy before I lost my mind. They quickly found a slot and tucked me in. They must have a code for this-something like Crazy Woman Incoming. May Day, May Day. After I was rubbed, manicured, and painted, I didn't feel the slightest bit of guilt and walked to a cab barefooted, so I wouldn't ruin my new toes.

Before going out for the evening, we gave presents to M. Malvic, his mére, and the hotel staff for their exceptional care and service. We ambled up the Boulevard Saint Germain for the opening at the Galerie Daniel Besseiche. Our friend Alice had invited us, and it was wonderful! The new show was full of the colors and light that we adore, and it was a glamorous event. We finally had the chance to meet the man whose gallery bears his name and whom we liked very much. His and Alice's "eye" for art inevitably appeals to us. We always want to make a purchase, but these pieces were too large to hang from the windows of our car. We ended the evening at Café La Flore for a dinner of delicious eggs and a salad of haricots vert.

This crazy woman incoming was going out in style.

posted by Beth on April 24, 2003 | View All Diary Entries

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