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Reverie

For a while now I’ve been wanting to share a secret. Just wanted a few more ducks in a row, before I spilled the beans. And now, amazingly, there they are, all waddling beak-to-tail down to the river. So here goes:

We’re going to Paris.

Yes, really. And by “we”, I mean ROB AND ME, not anyone else, regardless of age, gender or biological relationship. We leave at the end of May, for 10, whole, beautiful days, and come back  first week of June. Plane tickets are bought, lovely little hotel booked, grandparents (I’ve started calling them Team Paris in my head) signed up to look after the boys, and yes, pretty-yet-comfy shoes purchased and ready.

All less than a month before my 40th birthday, which is, in my loveliest dreams, when I’d wanted to go.

And without putting too fine a point on it, this all is a remarkable, truly miraculous thing. We are the couple who went to Picton, Ontario for our honeymoon. 17 years ago. In the winter. Since the boys were born, Rob and I have been away longer than overnight exactly once, to the Dominican Republic when Liam and Finn were 19 months old. By the time we leave for France, they’ll be 12. So we’re, um, ready.

I dream about traveling all the time. It’s how I manage to survive not doing it: I just think about it a lot. I read the other day that if you just imagine eating the thing you’re craving, that satisfies the craving. For a long while, it was kinda working, but honestly, after a point, you pretty much realize that imagining hazelnut gelato sucks compared to eating it.

At the same time, we’ve done as much as we could do, and that just hasn’t allowed things like airplane travel and hotels. Tent trailers, yes. Cottage whoring, you bet. But going abroad? Even as I faithfully dropped my coins into my little Paris jar over the last year or so, I’ve known that it wouldn’t so much buy us passage as a couple of cafés and a croissant to share. But doing it got me through.

A month or two ago, Rob came home from work and sat down on the couch beside me. Out of nowhere, he started to speak, looking at the muted television, rather than at me.

“I don’t think we can go to Paris for your birthday this year.”

“I know.” And I did. As much as I joked over the last year about it, there was no question. It was absolutely impossible.

“I’m sorry,” he said, turning to look at me. “I tried – I looked into it… it’s just too much.”

“Oh Sweetie, I know,” I said. “It’s ok. We’ll get there someday. We’ll just stick to the grand boulevards ’cause we’ll be in wheelchairs.” I smiled.

And that, as they say, was that. It was ok, because it simply could be no other way.

And then, three days later, everything changed.

I was talking to a dear friend, who has been going through an excruciating time in the last few months, along with her partner. Just over a year ago, her partner’s estranged father had passed away, and quite shockingly, left a not-insignificant inheritance, albeit one bound up in a convoluted tangle of red tape.

These friends have been part of our lives for years and years, ours and our kids’. We’ve seen each other’s children arrive, grow, thrive, struggle, and we’ve shared the beautiful and the sometimes messy sides of our two families. No one is closer to really knowing our boys, and I think of their girls as at least nieces, if not more. And like us, they have always struggled with money: together we are a musician, a writer, a theatre director and a special effects designer. We used to joke that at least one of us should have been an investment banker, but c’est la vie. Our vie, anyway. Our households have been compatible on so many levels, and we’ve always understood each other’s situations empathetically.

Last year, they blew us away by announcing they’d like to take a trip once the inheritance was finalized, and they wanted to take us – all crazy 5 of us – along. Unfortunately, by the time the long and arduous process was finished, nearly a year had passed, and things for them were in a place they’d not imagined they’d be. The least of their concerns was a trip; we never gave it another thought.

Then, not long ago, I was making dinner when my friend called. I asked to call her back when things were quieter, maybe tomorrow.

“Sure, but hang on,” she said. “Let me leave you with one thing before you go; something to think about.”

” Ok,” I said.

“We were talking yesterday. About us, about you guys, about the boys, just stuff. And we completely agreed on something: Just because we can’t go away right now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. We’d like to help you do that. You can use the money for wherever you like, but we’d love you to use it for travel. To get away.”

It is the most generous, touching, poignant gift anyone’s ever given us. Naturally, I objected profusely at first. But after a few days of talking – to them, to Rob, to the voice inside my head – I relented, and gratefully accepted. And within two weeks, we realized that with a little of our own money, we could make Paris work.

Everything fell into place in a way we’re just not used to. For a family that can hardly find time to return a pair of pants to the Gap, things just lined themselves up like… well, like ducklings.

It’s unreasonable how much I’m looking forward to it. Quite possibly unhealthy. On the last day of March, we were in the kitchen, and I yelped that I was SO HAPPY TOMORROW WAS APRIL! Rob frowned at me. “You know why, right?” I said grinning. “Mmhmm.” Still frowning. “‘Cause tomorrow I can say WE’RE GOING NEXT MONTH!!”

I told Rob I hoped he didn’t mind but it was a little like having a lover on the side… I daydream about how the streets will feel under my feet, how the markets will smell. What the frites will taste like; how much wine I’ll drink! I pass shop windows and I’ll catch sight of a scarf and think, “Ooooh… I could need that in Paris…” It’s delicious and enchanting already.

If it never happened, if tomorrow something happened that made it fall through, the last 6 weeks would have been worth it. They haven’t been the easiest weeks around here; actually, the opposite in some ways. But what’s different from other weeks is that I’ve had an escape, one I’ve used freely and with so much joy.

Months ago, our friend Matthew asked me if, having dreamed of Paris for so many years, I was afraid it might not live up to my expectations. I laughed. “Sweetie, it couldn’t help but live up to them. I don’t have any. I just want it to be what it is, whatever it is. I just want to discover it for myself.”

Besides, it’s Paris. How could it not?

11 comments to Reverie

  • Nancy Crozier

    Great, also, is the joy that we, your friends, feel when we think of you in Paris. xo

  • Liza

    Oh la la! Soooo excited for you. I was in tears just reading this…I can really feel your excitement and how much you totally deserve this break!! Bon Voyage!

  • Nancy

    We are delighted for you..Paris is enchanting..and a little wild, and sweet and dreamy and busy and a little messy,silly,artistic,musical….. Couldn’t have happened to a more worthy couple. God will bless the friends who made it possible!

  • Mom

    Now you’ve set me up for a vicarious thrill: will you blog from Paris?!

  • Ginette

    You must blog. Just think of David’s photos and blogs from Istanbul.

    Actually, perhaps No. You only have ten days. Be selfish. Don’t even turn on a computer. Going sans technology would be part of your vacation.

    We will all be here when you get back, and you can relive all the moments with a slide show on the first Friday of your return.

  • Ola

    I’m so excited for you. Another wonderful story Regan.

  • sharron

    THRILLED to read about your impending voyage a Paris…proof that dreams can and do come true. Bon Voyage comme on dit !!!

  • Dee

    Oh Regan! I am so happy for you guys. Enjoy every little bit of it…you are going to have the time of your lives <3

  • Sioux

    Hi Regan
    Sooooooooooo happy for you. You both deserve a break. Can’t wait to see pictures and hear all the stories.

  • Finn

    Oh how wonderful! :)

  • Ellen Barry

    Regan: Your father keeps me updated on you, as you know, and Paul & I were so happy to see him & Patty Ann last month…. I am a terrible correspondent, but I had to let you know how moved I was by this story. Not only the story, but your splendid heart and style and substance in the telling of it.
    Surely people must tell you how gifted you are as a writer, as well as chef!
    Enjoy Paris – I know you will. I was only there once, years ago, and on a pauper’s budget, but it was magical. All I wanted to do was walk around and look at the city….
    Love
    Ellen

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