Back in the states that fall of '97, my head was spinning. A huge gift and opportunity were staring me in the face. The mind swirl continued to be: but I have a career, a home, pets, and responsibilities. So, I talked with friends and family and decided to see if two months away was possible.
The first step, I asked my boss if I could have two months of leave without pay to which I received a resounding NO! The second step or question, could I afford to leave my job? By July I was 5 years vested in my retirement. So, I decided to begin taking the money I put into retirement each month and put it into the Credit Union since I could then touch that extra money. Et voila...
...when I quit my job in July, I'd be fully vested in my retirement AND have extra money in savings to help fund the adventure and a stateside return to no employment.
I was off to five weeks on my own at Wendy's in Tour de Faure and three weeks in Paris.
I'd jumped train.
I figured that Paris was going to be easy peasy for me, but five weeks in the Lot...what was I going to do with myself for all that time?
Even though I chose these five weeks, I had put myself in a place where I was on my own, didn't speak the language, there were few people, and I knew only a few people. I had no routine to buoy me up and no structure to my minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and time in general. I had to sit with myself.
This is when I think about the blank writer's page and the blank painter's canvass. There they are, staring you in the face. They are yours to do with as you wish and there is no one around telling you what to do and how it should be. What freedom! I was scared shitless, but I loved it.
I learned a lot in the Lot on my own that summer.
I enjoyed my coffee every morning while I wrote in my journal and waited for the mail man. I'd often write letters home, and you can be sure that all my friends had my addresses in Tour de Faure and Paris. Routine however, stopped there.
The butterflies and the snails became my friends. I learned to dance the ballet to Mozart on butterfly wings while I ran through the automatic sprinklers (with the help of a lot of Cahors wine) and became and expert on artistic snails who drew with their trail on terre cotta flower pots. I read. I cried. I had moments of crazy that rose to the surface after having been stuffed so low for so long during all those years I was imprisoned on the train.
I learned to find joy on my own. I learned that the surprises that come your way when you just STOP, can be more wonderful that anything you struggle to plan. I'm not sure I ever STOPPED!
I was not alone on this visit. I had a few friends from previous trips and made new ones. I learned to let them come to me.
I loved sitting and writing on my wine glass ledge and see who might be coming up around the bend to see me. I laughed when someone looked at this shot of my wine glass ledge and said: "I can tell from your photography that you are someone who enjoys your own company." And by that time, I did.
I got to me.
I found myself.
I could write a book about those five weeks at Wendy's.
Finding myself and falling in love with the Lot, I discovered that I longed for the Lot. Those three weeks in Paris turned out to be the difficult ones for me. It was impossible not to think about what my stateside return was going to mean for me.
There were to be new discoveries at every turn!