Editor’s Note: This is one installment of a seven-week series from an ITKT featured writer.
After breakfast I hike into the hills behind town. I pass wildflowers and the occasional burro. The roads are steep and curvy but I get to see another part of this world, large houses tucked behind stone walls and wrought iron gates. Many have expansive patios facing the patchwork of vineyards beyond. I can’t decide which one should be my dream house.
Lionel’s is closed so I try a new cafe. The waitress is a pretty blond and her words are quick and fluid. Again I wish I understood. My friend and I talk about our novels and the challenge of bringing words to life. One thing this trip has taught me is I’m a writer. Back home I wasn’t sure. I wondered what would happen left to my own devices, given the luxury of time and space, with no excuses. Would I squander it or pick up the pen? Thank God, I’ve written for hours every day and love it.
The waitress brings one of their special salads, fresh greens with tiny slivers of peppers, zucchini and Brie. The French love their cheese yet have less heart disease than Americans. They also love their three course meals – first salad, then the main entrée and of course dessert ranging from sensible fruit to mind-blowing pastries or cakes.
I’m starting to put items back in my suitcase and realize I packed too much. All the things I thought I needed from extra shoes to snacks to too many tops have weighed me down. The people in this village have no shopping malls or big box stores. They purchase what they need, as they need it. One more thing I vow to keep with me. Travel light.
Tonight I have dinner in one of the most charming restaurants I’ve seen, red with white shutters, window boxes overflowing with orange nasturtiums. The owner’s a large Turkish man. People from the Netherlands sit across the way. A man from Ireland with a moustache dines at the next table. And of course there’s the party of seven American women. I love our round table and how for the first time I can really talk to and see our group during a meal. Conversation turns to husbands and relationships. This is my first time in decades traveling without Randy and it feels different. I look at things through my own filter, not just as a couple. After being a wife and mother for so long, I like it.
As usual after dinner I walk back to the hotel and though I’ve been here almost a week, the pastoral beauty still dazzles me. I note how the night sky never turns completely black but stays midnight blue like a Van Gogh painting. People stroll around, many with dogs. The French love their animals. The streets are also places for cats, some feral, and we watch a thin gray tabby try and chase a gecko up a wall.
I leave the day after tomorrow but am torn. On one hand, I’m not ready. There’s so much left to explore. On the other, I miss my husband and sons, my family back home. I strike a compromise in my mind. If I could bring all my loved ones here for a month, I’d stay in a heartbeat. But that’s not possible.
For more of Laurie’s stories about Provence France
Laurie Stone is a writer living in Easton, CT who occasionally hears the siren sound of travel and needles her husband and two college-age sons to come explore. If they’re not available she’ll take any unsuspecting friend or colleague. The more she travels, the more she sees how humans are really all alike, despite language, cultural or political differences.