PARIS NOTES #1: to butter or not to butter

croissantTo butter or not to butter, that is the question. The croissant on Air France may be small compared to what will come but they are buttery enough that my childhood farmland belief that everything is “better with butter” is in conflict with my waistline and my belief that the French know best when it comes to food.

I will be in the heart of Paris in two hours, most likely having tea at Laduree on the corner of rue Jacob and rue Bonaparte in the 6th arrondissement, a block from where I once owned a duplex apartment. Said apartment was a casualty of my divorce. Non non non, said apartment was a gift from the cosmos I had for ten years until the man to whom I was once married got beyond his guilt for having a secret second life complete with apartments in Beijing and San Francisco and a woman twenty years younger and he found an arcane Virginia law where he could claim the entire apartment because his money paid for it, despite my name being on the deed for half. Zut alors!

(Ladies, when your husband cheats, massively, do not expect remorse to last, though it will most likely return with old age, as though it mattered then. Remorse in old men is as common as corn in Iowa. If an old man doesn’t have remorse, he is a rare and precious being, or too stupid to know his mistakes, or too scared to acknowledge them.)

Is it my imagination or are the heterosexual stewards on this plane flirting with me? God, I adore European men. Their radar hones right into the energy of your being rather than a wrinkle here or there.

The plane is descending, my ears are starting to plug. Paris, I am coming home. The kicker is I will be staying at my old apartment. The new owners (yes, after a couple years he sold it) needed the combination to the safe and my former soul mate, or whatever, was forced to connect us. Praise email!

Last month the new owners stayed in my apartment in New York. This month, after years of loss, I’m in theirs/”mine” on rue Jacob. The furniture and art is still there, the silver, the linens, the plates, and the espresso machine. Oui oui oui, I understand I no longer own it, but the goods, the beauties, are there on their own to be savored.

The real question is: to forgive or not forgive. Except it was always irrelevant to me, beside the point, even if it wraps this up before I turn off electronic devices.

Forgiveness is less a virtue than a tool. A handy one that raises you, use it as a crowbar, a lever, a rope ladder, and most importantly as an eraser. And eat croissant as though it were the heart of the universe.

“All electronic devices need to be turned off and your seat returned to upright position.” Landing.

Traveling Light Becomes a Blog

patricia smith meltonThe hermit side of me is being dragged here kicking and screaming. She wants to sit cross-legged at the entry to a cave, Paleolithic paintings at her back and wildflowers spread across the distance in front.

It would be a warm day and the sun would be gentle where it touched my hermit feet and legs. My head would be just into the shade. The hermit wants never to work, to lay the burdens down like offerings up to that sun, to have them vaporize. She wants to ease into forgiveness and forgetfulness and into the yellow of the little flowers right over there.

But the tough steeled thing of me has dragged her here. Welcome, dear reader, let me talk to your heart and, thus, clear my own. The wheel has long been invented but knowledge is a delicate thing woven of math, time, space, senses, conjectures, bone fragments, DNA. Sixty-five billion neutrinos stream from the sun and go through every cubic centimeter of your body every second.

When I first took yoga in the YWCA nearly 50 years ago, my consciousness would rise out of my prone body during meditation and float above it and above the bodies next to me. When I asked the instructor privately if there was anything I should do with this, he went wide-eyed and said, “Don’t tell anyone. They’ll get scared.” It never happened again, and I never told anyone. Until now, but this is the least of it. And I will speak of the more of it and post it here under “Slouching Toward Enlightenment.”

So I drag my hermit self here because she and I live in this world, and I’ve grown to love it here. It took a long time. At seventy, I want to smash my face into the pomegranates of life, I want juice sluicing into me, I want young lovers and wild gardens of beautiful things. And I will write of these things and post them on “Woman of a Certain Age.”

The tough steeled thing of me is being re-shaped, tendered back down inside like a prong to nudge up the poet and meanderer and say “dare with me.” The hermit shivers, “What are you doing now? Again? More? Really? Necessary?”

The past 12 years were years of being an activist for women power, witnessing the savaging in the Middle East, getting emails in the night from desperate sisters in Afghanistan and Palestine, and having unending astonishment at people’s courage as they were being violated. The steeled me, well-tempered by now, will continue to write of rights and needs and wonders, and will interview women around the world and post their words here under “Peace By Peace.”

And when I was violated – a country we will visit, but less than we will savor travels to Paris, my geographical heart home, in October and the Galapagos with its blue-footed boobies in January. To be posted with photographs under “Road Show.”

At seventy I often feel grief and ecstasy at the same time. It resembles fine wines. Reds.

Come travel with me. My hermit self is. We will travel light.