Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hello Again

Two and a half years. Not that bad, considering all the things that have happened since the last time I wrote. What a journey life is. And at almost 55 years of age, I really finally feel like I'm grasping the joy of life in all its shades and textures -- dark, bright, muted, smooth, rough, woven -- knowing that each one has its own beauty and worth.

I won't try to cover all the events of the last couple of years. But she's one of the things that happened.

Ella Faith. I absolutely adore her.

What I am going to try to do is be more consistent with my writing and I'm sure some of what's been going on will come out as I write. But I'm so thankful because I feel so inspired to write again, finally. I am so thankful to God for His faithfulness to me, that He has stuck by me in this journey, that I am experiencing hope again, seems like for the first time in almost a decade. If there's one thing I could pinpoint for this hope it is that God is kind and loving and sweet and completely in control. I know that is a common comment in Christian circles. But I've doubted it to the depth of my being and wrestled with it for no small period of time, and through it all I see it's true. I finally know it through experience. I'm so, so grateful.

So let's talk about where I've just been. Yep, you guessed it -- France! What a shock; right? Actually, I know I've got to start going other places, and I will, but I'm just so smitten with this country. I think it's because I'm getting familiar with her and that's attractive. And, of course, she definitely deserves my devotion. She never fails to deliver on her promise of varied and unparalleled beauty, delicious food, and a good history lesson!

So I was supposed to go with my friend Lorraine and we would meet Natalia in Paris, but she was planning on going standby and we knew that could happen or not, and at the last minute it didn't happen. So I headed out by myself, the first time ever that I've gone alone. I've come home alone but never gone there alone.

So I was a little nervous, but I did it! And only minutes after I found my hotel, my lovely daughter arrived! Boy, do I love her. We are best friends and what could be better than running around Paris together? Not much, I tell you! So we did.

And we also received a text from my friend Lorraine saying that she would be coming after all and would meet us at the hotel the next day! Fun, fun, fun!

Lorraine had never been to Paris to sightsee before, so we saw all the basics -- the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co., Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and a boat ride on the Seine. All in a day and a half. We were movin'!

We also were introduced to Angelina's (by one of Natalia's old college friends who now lives in Paris), a 100-year-old tea house that has the BEST hot chocolate I've ever tasted. It's like drinking a chocolate bar.

The line was out the door and around the building but thankfully Natalia's friend had gotten there before us and had waited in the line. We just popped in with her when we got there and only waited about 20 minutes. It was worth it!

Oh, and Lorraine is a huge fan of Phantom of the Opera, which inspired both Natalia and I to read the book before we got there, and so of course we took a self-guided tour of the Paris Opera Garnier. It was stunning!

Box 5 is The Phantom's box, the second from the left of the stage. It was so fun to have read the book and then see where it all was supposed to have taken place.

We ended our stay in Paris by having a late lunch at Cafe Marco Polo. I had eaten there a few times before with John and remembered how wonderful it was, so we made our way over to it again. We were not disappointed! And Lorraine's mom had sent money with her to buy us lunch with, so we enjoyed our wine and food and toasted to Lolo for her generosity and good will! Then off to catch the train to Challans, which is another story in itself. Let's just say it involves running and no tickets and no connector train. But that will have to be told another time.