Tag Archives: Paris

How to Travel With a Shattered Heart

My friend has set off on a big adventure this week–her first real vacation after her divorce. She needed a teensy boost from the Cool Kids today, so we got on a chat thread. She had made it through all the logistics and teen dramaz and such and had gotten the whole crowd to their destination. Time to START HAVING FUN, right?

That’s when the sad whalloped her. She wrote, “Ashley, I don’t know how you did Paris after Richard. I really, really don’t.”

I told her the truth: “I cried every day of that trip, but that’s not the part I remember now.”


That week in Paris on my own was my first trip to Europe without my darling. I had to take a Valium and a deep red wine for dinner to make it through the flight. I hid in the bathtub as soon as I got to my hotel. I cried when I unpacked my clothes because there were so many extra drawers and hangers.

Richard had always been the one to plan the flights and hotels. I just told him where I wanted to go and he made the logistics happen.

Richard held my hand whenever the plane took off.

Richard did all the metric conversions. I once told a guy at the ski rental place that I was 1.2 meters tall and weighed 700 kilograms because I did the math wrong. Before we left on that ski trip to Austria, I had looked at a map of the Alps and commented, “3000 feet? That’s not that high. North Carolina has mountains almost that high.” He explained that we were going to 3000 meters and that was quite different from North Carolina. Like permafrost and thin oxygen kind of high. Then there was that one time in Luxembourg when I ordered myself some wine with dinner…750ml of wine. So yeah, he handled the metric system.

Richard was in charge of safety when we traveled. There was that time he fought off a pickpocket in Amsterdam. And the time I jumped on the wrong train in Belgium so he jumped with me.

He read the maps and read the time tables and read the street signs.

I wasn’t just dead weight on our adventures. I was in charge of the itinerary, cultural enrichment, translations, communications, and food. Without me, he wouldn’t have known the story of why Athens was named for Athena instead of Poseidon. He wouldn’t have learned that he kind of liked modern art. He wouldn’t have known why people place small smooth stones on graves in a Jewish cemetery. I got him to try Indonesian rijsstafel and pickels on cheddar cheese sandwiches and retsina (don’t try that last one–tastes like Pine Sol). We made a great team.

So yeah, how did I manage that first trip on my own?

I remembered that, as much as Richard had done for me, I could still do it all for myself. I applied the lessons he had taught me. I shopped ticket prices and left on Christmas night to save money. I booked a nicer hotel than he would have, so I would feel safe and have a concierge to answer my questions. I studied the Metro map and learned the major streets. I checked my landmarks, like Sacre Coeur. I learned how to hail a cab and get over the expense. I thought about my own safety and skipped crowds at night. I bought a phone card so I could call home when I got lonely.

I treated myself because he wasn’t there to delight me. I learned to say, “je voudrais une crepe avec chocolate et banana” or something like that and then I ate a chocolate and banana crepe for lunch on the sidewalk. I reserved a ticket to see Swan Lake at the National Opera (and I fell asleep during part of the first act). I bought splits of champagne at Printemps food halls. I took a Segway tour of the sites (and drove the dang thing off a six inch curb into traffic while I was admiring a street sign for a place where Hemingway had lived). I watched “Gone With the Wind” dubbed into French and ordered a giant plate of French french fries for dinner in my room. I gave myself a pound of candied orange peels dipped in dark chocolate–he had always remembered that was my favorite.


I still cried under the fluffy down duvet on my lonely bed at night, but I was crying in Paris, dammit.

So to my friend, when you are off on an adventure and realize that you are alone–here’s what I hope you will remember. That YOU who had all the good times with that other person? That you is still in there. That you still likes chocolate orange peel and Gone With the Wind. That you still enjoys wearing a killer pair of boots and strutting down a cobblestone sidewalk. That you will dawdle on a park bench in the sun. That you will ask a stranger to take your picture. That you will buy a necklace shaped like a star to remind yourself to shine.


It’s true–that you will stand in front of Rodin’s “The Kiss” and you will feel your heart seize with grief for the kiss that will never be again.

Then you will realize that you have another first kiss coming.

And that you that is still in there, that you that has gotten you through every awful thing in your past, that you will think of your future, and smile.

Fartbuster’s Worst Fear

ordinaryAbout a week after Fartbuster and I separated, he came by the house one night so we could talk.  It had been a rough day for me.  I had spent the afternoon at a funeral for the husband of a coworker.  He had died too young after a grueling dose of stomach cancer.  During the service, I stared at my wedding ring (I hadn’t told anyone that we were living apart yet) and wondered what would become of my life, who would cry for me.  That evening, I was overwrought and wrung out and completely used up–so what BETTER time to hash things out with my wayward husband?  

So there we met, leaning against the counters in our kitchen.  My kitchen.  The kitchen.  Whatever.  And Fartbuster was telling me all about the book he was reading–Hermann Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game.”  In great detail.  Greeeeeeaaaat detail.  Exhaustive detail. I’m leaning against the counter and listening to him go on and on about this esoteric novel that he probably read because no one else wanted to and it’s as if I finally SEE him for who he really is–someone who thinks he’ll be OK as long as he’s smart.  Someone who thinks he’s really special because he’s smart.  Someone who desperately needs a pat on the head as he hears, “Gosh, you’re smart!”  That had been my job for ten years.  

The Glass Bead Game is about the life of a young man who has been raised to be a member of the intellectual elite who goes on a quest to understand other forms of living.  So it got Fartbuster thinking about Who He Wanted to Be.  (And as a sidenote:  remember that Who He WAS at this juncture was a barely employed man with a pregnant girlfriend that his patient and confused wife didn’t know about.)  

Finally, he finishes going on about the book.  He looks over at me and asks, “What’s your biggest fear in life?’

I considered it for a few moments and reflected back on how I had spent my emotional afternoon.  “I think my biggest fear is not being loved.  If I woke up in the morning and couldn’t think of anyone who gave a shit about me–that would be my worst nightmare.”  

He nodded without saying anything.  

“What’s yours?” I asked from my side of our kitchen.

He scrunched up his mouth, rubbed his beard and proclaimed, “Being ordinary.  Y’know–wife, kids, house in the suburbs and a job.”  

I stared at the pattern in the linoleum to give him time to elaborate.  He added, “I want to do something bigger than that, something important.”  

Our suburban kitchen ticked with the quiet that hung between us.  In our time together, even though I read books just as fancy as the ones he read, I had always been the more practical of the two of us.  I like a good Nobel Prize winner myself, but I also believe in paying the light bill.  And that part of me had about had enough of making a life with Peter Pan.

“You call that ‘ordinary,’ but I went to a funeral today for one of the most ordinary men you’d ever care to meet.  Husband, father, grandfather.  Truck driver.  House in the country.  Watched Nascar.  Went to church on Sunday.  He was also 15 years sober and helped a lot of other people fight that battle.  He was loved deeply and irreplaceable to his wife and daughter.  He was funny.  He was kind.  A hundred people stood out there in the sunshine this afternoon and mourned the fact that he had passed.  Just an ordinary guy.”  

Fartbuster shrugged and I didn’t push it.  

Well, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you know how the story turned out.  I don’t talk much about how and where Fartbuster is today, but let me assure you…

  1. Wife
  2. Kid
  3. Job
  4. House in the suburbs

Thank my lucky stars that I got out of that marriage with my self intact, if somewhat tattered.  I became a person I loved, then I found someone to love.  Then I did it all again and again and again.  My life keeps getting bigger since that time.  


I found this quote about ordinariness and love.  Reading it makes me feel a bit smug, because not too many years after Fartbuster placed me in the “ordinary” column, I went to Paris on my own and I found Oscar Wilde’s tombstone.  I put on my brightest red lipstick and I kissed the memorial, leaving my mark.  It was one of those moments when I looked back across what my life had become, back to that night in our kitchen.  Ordinary?  Hardly.  Loved?  Certainly.  

In the words of Mr. Wilde:   “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”  


Let’s Go Krug-ering

I blame Jay-Z and my childhood friend Mollie Battenhouse for this story…

This afternoon, I stood in a daze before the fancy champagne case at Kroger.  The wine guy walked past me and asked, “Are you finding what you’re looking for?”  I, pushing a cart filled with sugar cookie mix, green sprinkles, macaroni, ground beef and–gasp–watermelon flavored toothpaste, felt like a total fraud.

“Oh,” I giggled, “I’m just daydreaming.”  He must have been bored because he came over to stand beside me even though I couldn’t have been putting out the “I’m looking for a $300 bottle of champagne” vibe.  He nodded toward the carefully locked case and asked, “Which one are you thinking about?”

I pointed to the bright gold label on the Veuve-Clicquot.  “My sister and I drank several bottles of that in Chicago a few years back.  I didn’t know I was pregnant with my daughter.”  He laughed.  “When she was born, I bought that one–I pointed to the Billecart-Salmon rose with the subtle pink label–to celebrate the day we brought her home from the hospital.”   Next I waved to the elegant dark blue Pommery.  “I drank a bottle of that one year on New Year’s Eve, in Paris–all by myself.”  His eyebrows climbed higher and he laughed, “That sounds like a good night!”  It wasn’t, but that had nothing to do with the champagne.  I didn’t tell him how sad I had been that night, how I had cried at a table for one.  Instead, I asked–

krugomot“Do you carry Krug?”

He started with a little flutter, “A vintage?  I, uh, I can get that for you.”

It was my turn to flutter.  “Oh, I probably won’t do it, but having a bottle of champagne like that is on my bucket list.”  And thanks to Mollie and Jay-Z, I had woken up that Saturday dreaming about fine champagne.  Mollie is a wine expert in New York and her birthday was this week.  She mentioned on Facebook that she enjoyed Krug champagne with her birthday lunch.  Ahhhhhh.  And my friend, Saralyn has tickets to see Jay-Z coming up.  All that–plus the Nyquil and humidifier–cooked in my brain last night and morphed into a dream.

In the dream I was at a small venue Jay-Z concert, like a hotel ballroom.  I was wandering around before the show started when Jay-Z pulled up his gunmetal gray pickup truck right in front of me and parked it by the stage.  Pickup truck, you ask?  Well, OF COURSE–he had amps and stuff in the back.  I helped him tote a couple of cables and told him that I was looking forward to the show.  He said, “Hey, thanks for helping–drink Kansas City Royals v New York Yankeessome of this with me.”  He took out a giant bottle of Krug and poured me a plastic cup full to the rim.  Delightful! I remember looking down at the golden glow and watching the small bubbles dance.  I remember the cool feel of the cup in my hand, just the right temperature.  I took a sip and it was the best thing I had ever tasted.  I thanked Jay and made my way back to my seat.  I remember thinking in the dream how lucky I was to have something so rare, right there in my hand.  Just another Friday night in my head.

So….what WAS I doing looking for Krug in Kroger?

I really do want to plop down hard-earned money on a world class bottle of champagne one day.  It won’t become a habit, but it’s just something I’d like to experience.  Some people dream of blowing money on a Chanel bag or taking a cruise–I’d rather sit down in a pleasant spot with a pleasant friend and treat ourselves to a bottle of something magical.  Like a 1928 Krug.

In the year between Richard’s passing and when I started to date again, I discovered the mystery of fine wine.  My sister took me to dinner at Gramercy Tavern in New York about a month after Richard died.  The restaurant and the people in it were all so beautiful that I fought feelings of guilt when we were first seated.  It felt odd to be so carefree, on a lark.  I’ll never forget the first dish–pate de foie gras on toast points with a side of ramps soaked in vinegar, paired with a chilly Sauternes.  I didn’t even know what a ramp was then, and I thought Sauternes was supposed to be for dessert, but I dove in.  The combination proved sublime.  I almost cried at the table because I felt such sudden joy–that some chef decided to make this, that my sister had brought me here, that I was alive to enjoy it.  Goose liver and bread and tiny spring onions, vinegar and sugar twirled together on my palate to remind me just how much fun it is to experience the world through my senses.

Inspired by that meal, I spent a few Tuesday nights at the local wine shop for tastings.  Wine excited me because there was so much to know about it that I could never learn it all and it was a relief to me–at that late sad point in my life–to discover that there was something so new out there to explore.

alvear-pedro-ximenez-1927-e1367699508617I once invested in a half case of Pedro Ximenes Alvear Solera 1927 because I was so intrigued by the vintage.  This dessert wine is created by blending a little bit of each vintage–all the way back to 1927.  The blending gives the wine a richness and depth that you can’t get from just one year.  When the first grapes for that Solera were picked, my grandfather was 25 years old.  No one knew about World War II.

My grandfather died that spring, a year after Richard did.  He lived to be 103.  Richard made it to 38.  When I sipped that sweet wine in 2006, I was tasting the sunlight and the rain from all those years, all swirling together into this moment, this day.  The beauty of wine for me is that every bottle captures a moment and in that moment, a world.

I guess that’s what I was daydreaming about, there in the Kroger wine aisle.  I haven’t had much time or money to explore wine since the kids came along, but I still like the idea of it.  Those days will come again and one day, maybe Gay and I will take Vivi to France.  It’s all one life.  The macaroni days and the champagne days.


Today’s writing prompt was “If you had a time machine and you could return to one point in your life, where would you go and why?”

My first reaction to this game is always, “What’s the POINT?”  It’s silly to think that I could go back and change a major event in my life.  The whole skein unravels if I tug on one thread and I like where I am now.  Even with sadness that I’ve known, how could I push it away without pushing away the gladness?  Would I go back to that day in grad school when I first laid eyes on Fartbuster?  Or to the day I found out he was cheating?  Why?  If I weren’t that broken-hearted person I became because of loving him, I wouldn’t have been on the side of the highway that morning that I met Richard.  And he wouldn’t have had me beside him when he died.  I can’t have one without the other.  It’s all one life.

Maybe I could revisit a time in my life when I had a clean house and nine hours of sleep a night, but I would undo the tired joys of having two people who light up when they say “Mama!”

As I was pondering this, my friend Robin sent me a Wendell Berry poem:

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over the grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)

“Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.”  So where would I go in my time machine?  I don’t want to undo anything, but there is one time I wish I had said Yes instead of No.  When I held myself close instead of being open.  A small sadness but one that has stuck with me.  Here’s when I would go now that I have less reason not to give myself away:

Paris.  December 28, 2005.  A chilly gray morning in a small park by the Eiffel Tower.  It was the third day of my solo trip to Paris and I had my feet under me.  I’d seen the view from the top of the Tour back when I was 21 and in Paris for the first time.  So that morning, as a widow waking up to the world again, I avoided the crowds and barkers near the base of the attraction and walked farther away.  To get some perspective.

My hands were jammed into the pockets of my black cashmere coat, the one I bought just for that trip so I could look more French and less American.  A red and yellow crushed velvet scarf warmed my throat.  Just a woman, walking in Paris.  On her own.

Boule.kugelI stopped to watch a group of elderly men playing petanque.  It’s like bocce or lawn bowling, but French.  There’s one small ball in the middle of the sandy court and each player throws larger metal balls at it in the hopes of tapping the “jack.”

They chided each other after bad throws.  Their laughter billowed in clouds in the frozen air.  Their heads were covered with black wool berets.  They rubbed their hands together to keep them warm and blew hot air into them while they waited turns.  They whooped like little boys and clapped at a masterful toss.  They argued among themselves over the close calls.  

They were busy enjoying each other and didn’t seem to mind that I was watching them.  I watched them for several minutes as my still feet grew colder and colder.  It was time to get back to walking before I froze in place.  I pulled my camera from my messenger bag and took a few snapshots of their game.

Then, in the way of French men who love all kinds of women, even the sad and dark, one of them signaled to me to come over.  I smiled broadly but didn’t come any closer.  Another grandpere turned to me with a friendly wave and invited me to join the game.  I laughed out a “Non, merci!”  

Then I continued my walk.  

That’s the moment I would return to.  I would say “Oui, s’il vous plait!  Merci!”  I would let myself be welcomed.  I would let myself be awkward and silly.  

I would give myself away.  Un petit cadeau.  

Here’s a gift for you to share with someone today.  

wendell berry tree with poem

 If you’d like to read other “time travel” stories, check them out over at My So-Called Glamorous Life.

And In the Other Pocket…

pocket coinsWhile I am thinking about amulets, charms, and talismans this week, let me share the contents of my left coat pocket–22 Euro cents.  I use these coins like worry stones; as I walk along, I rub them between my fingers, passing them one over the other and back again in a circle.  The feel of them in my hand is relaxing and never fails to make me smile.  If I were Greek, I might carry worry beads to calm myself into a meditative state with rhythmic clicking.  If I were Hindu, I might wear a mala on my wrist to count prayers.  Cultures and religions across the globe use prayer beads in one form or another to mark the rhythm of letting go, turning over or sinking in.  We all need something to fiddle with. 

Twenty two cents.  That’s what I had left at the end of my last trip to Europe, the week in Paris on my own.  Richard and I used to play a game at the end of a trip.  We’d try to spend our cash down to the last penny so we weren’t left with any foreign money to take home as souvenirs or god forbid, exchange at Thomas Cook.  I have a thimble from Munich, a bookmark from Prague, a postcard from Amsterdam.  I once spent my last money on a breakfast banana in Berlin then forgot all about it until I was busted by the USDA beagle sniffer dog once we landed in Atlanta!  I’m standing there minding my own business when I look down and the beagle has gone into a sit on the floor next to me and placed her delicate paw right on top of my trusty backpack!  ACK!!  I guess I’ve seen one too many episodes of “Locked Up Abroad.”  I mean, let’s just say…that backpack had done a good bit of living…not “Midnight Express” or anything but y’know.  A very serious customs agent escorted me to a plexiglass cubicle where I was directed to open my luggage and keep my hands in view.  There sat the contraband banana, cleverly concealed on top of everything.  I breathed a sigh of relief and asked, “Does the dog get to keep the banana?”  (The answer is no.)

I was in Europe the very day the Euro became the official currency of the Eurozone.  Shopkeepers grumbled at having to reprice everything and print new signs and they hated seeing us coming with our super-strong dollars (that was way back when!).  The day the currency switched, we were traveling by train to Bruges in Belgium from Delft in the Netherlands, so I kept guilders in my front left pocket, francs in the right, euros in my jacket.  It was New Years Day, so the restaurants and shops where we could have used a debit card were closed.  It’s pretty frustrating to get crisp new euros out of an ATM only to find that the vending machines all still take the old coin.  That explains why we had to make a meal in Ghent of leftover Christmas Hershey bars and two hot Cokes.  Ugly Americans…bringing Hersheys to Belgium!  It was a last resort.  We had mussels and black beer for dinner to atone for the sin. 

You can tell by the smooth edges of these coins that they’ve taken away many a worry for me.  They’re both from France (the RF mark indicates that) and minted in 2005.  I have one phrase that describes that time in my life and I stole it from a New Year’s shop window display in Paris:  “Love 2006, F*ck 2005.”  

But that’s just my two cents!

A Pocket Full of Luck

It was cold enough to wear a coat today for my short walk from the parking lot to my office.  When I pulled my right hand out of the pocket to press the crossing signal, a scrap of paper fluttered to the ground.  Luckily, I saw it fall.  As I snatched it up from the sidewalk (saying a little thank you that there was no wind), I felt my whole body tighten with panic at the idea that I might have lost my talisman that’s been in that pocket since January 2, 2006.

boarding pass

It’s just a boarding pass stub from an Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle to Atlanta.  Economy class, seat 44G.

I’ve been other places since then and I’ve even shoved other boarding passes into the pocket of that coat.  This one is special because it’s from the trip I took to Paris on my own to cap off the hardest year of my life.  I keep it in my coat pocket to remind myself of who I can be–the woman who will not be defeated by sadness.  The woman who will insist on adventure.

I really do believe that we make our own good luck, so most of my lucky charms are reminders to myself of great days or hard-won victories.  When I decided to spend a week in Paris between Christmas and New Year’s of 2005, I heard a lot of “You’re going to Paris by yourself?”  Yes.  But I made a conscious effort to create the right energy around this trip by saying “I’m going to Paris on my own.”  I hear “abandoned, bereft, left” when I think of “alone.”  I hear “in charge of deciding what to do next” when I say “on my own.”  I had had enough of being alone and was ready to try being on my own. 

Richard and I had a tradition of taking a big adventure trip between Christmas and the New Year.  The first year, we went to Amsterdam and Bruges.  The next year, Salzburg and skiing in Innsbruck then on to Munich.  The next year, the pink sands of Bermuda and snorkeling along coral reefs.  The next year…the hospital.  The next year, I was on my own.  When the fall of 2005 rolled around, I was so full of resentment that I wouldn’t get to go on an adventure that year (or ever again, in the back of my mind).  But eventually it dawned on me that I could go–I would just need to go in a different way so that I would feel safe and could enjoy myself.  I wanted to reclaim ADVENTURE.

I chose Paris because I had been there before right after college and I spoke enough French to get by.  It was also one of the few places in the world that Richard had NOT wanted to go, so I didn’t feel guilty that I was getting to do something and he was missing out.  Instead of staying in the budget hotels that we usually chose, I reserved a room in a nicer hotel, with a concierge who spoke English and a Metro stop a block away.  I thought my way through every point of the planning and I got a little bit excited.  Even if I panicked once I got there and stayed in my hotel room, by god, it was a Parisian hotel!

My daddy drove me to the airport on Christmas night.  Now that I have children of my own, I have some empathy for how he must have felt, dropping his widowed baby girl off at the airport to fly off  by herself.  On her own.  He didn’t say a negative word.  I got to my seat, took the last Valium I had been saving up, set my iPod to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (the version by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) and went to sleep.

I woke up in Paris.  On my own.  Holy shit.  My heart was pounding and that place behind my eyes was very twinkly.  Under my breath, I chanted the mantra my college professor, Dr. Darlene Mettler had told me about travel:  Be Deliberate.  “Just get your bag.  Get your bag.    OK, now find a cab.  Find a cab.  Find a cab.  Write out the address so you don’t have to pronounce all those vowels….Boulevard Hausmann.”  I got a cab, settled into the backseat.  The driver typed the address into his GPS (which spoke with a very sexy French accent) then turned on the radio.  Guess what was playing?  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Yep.  Where bluebirds fly.

I’ll tell the other stories some other day.  I can’t say enough about how important it is for women to travel on their own.  It was a great week.  It wasn’t always a happy week, but it was a great week.

One day, I went to the Rue des Rosiers in the old Jewish Quarter to buy my friend a menorah as a gift.  I had heard about a little Judaica shop called Diasporama.  The name was too clever to pass up, so I ducked inside…hoping that I wouldn’t make a shiksa blunder.  I tried out my French–“Je voudrais un ‘menorah’ pour un cadeux…”  The bustling maternal shopkeeper tutted at me while looking over her reading glasses.  Her daughter came to my aid.  She helped me select an elegant, modernist  menorah in stainless steel and took it to the counter to wrap it up.  While I was waiting, the grandmother seated behind the counter gave me a smile.  I said (in French!) that something she was cooking smelled delicious.  And in the way of grandmothers across the globe, she offered me a bowl of cabbage soup!  I declined and explained that I had just had Moroccan food around the corner.  She waved away the very idea but patted me on the hand.  That simple touch–the first time I had been touched in a week–made my breath stop and I felt myself beginning to cry.  The three of them, there together, being kind to me when I had been so worried about doing or saying something wrong.  I looked for something to distract myself.  A small straw basket of talismans sat by the cash register.  I picked one up and turned it over in my palm.  The Hand of Miriam.

"Hand of Miriam" or Hamsa (Arabic) used to ward off the evil eye.

“Hand of Miriam” or Hamsa used to ward off the evil eye.

It’s a good luck charm.  I learned that if the fingers are spread apart, it is to deflect the evil eye.  If the fingers are depicted together, they catch good luck.  At three euros, I added it to the purchase and bought myself a little extra traveling luck.

When I’m traveling on my own and people ask me if I am alone, I say that my husband is meeting me just around the corner at the hotel or a restaurant or a shop.  During that week, I had said it a couple of times and the lie had left me feeling sometimes bereft and sometimes gleeful because in Paris I didn’t have to stick with my sad story.  But I told these women that I was on my own in Paris.  They welcomed me and congratulated me.  I left that place feeling safer than I had all week.  I had been offered food, a touch, help in choosing a gift and a little good luck.

I love the Hamsa, but it feels like a prop, something I am putting on.  I can’t read the Hebrew inscription and I don’t really worry about the evil eye on your average Monday.  It ended up in my suitcase and I only see it when I am packing for trips. It reminds me of Paris and the woman I let myself be that afternoon in the Rue des Rosiers.

The boarding pass became my everyday good luck charm.  I run it through my fingers as I walk from the parking lot to work to remind myself of the woman who went to Paris on her own.  It’s growing silky and soft with age.  It’s corners are worn smooth.