Believe it or not, I’m not looking for sympathy here. In some parallel universe, the one where I was able to figure out a week’s worth of child care, I am in Paris right now, taking a bazillion photos and drooling all over the dress shops. And, the kicker: it was a free trip to Paris.
I’m in this universe, though. The one where I just spent fifteen minutes with Willow in my lap, her barely-still-chunky hand patting and stroking my cheek. The one where I went to yoga this morning and cried twice: once when a woman passed out (I am a sympathetic crier), and once during savasana, when the teacher played Imagine, by John Lennon. Last night I went to yoga for the first time since my surgery (thirteen days since the surgery, eighteen days since my last yoga session) and when I started to sweat, the overpowering stench of general anesthesia nearly knocked me over. I was unbelievably grossed out that two weeks later I still had all that crap in my body.
But, back to Paris. I’ve never been there. My trip to Barcelona in February was only the second time I’ve ever left the US. The first time was when I went to Toronto, which doesn’t really count entirely. (I loved Toronto, but it wasn’t so different than home.) I know it’s cliche, but I fell in love with Spain. Hard.
My good fortune to be invited there still amazes me: I’ve always said that if I could go to one place in Europe, it would be Spain. I know that part of the appeal of Barcelona was that I was there on my own. That would have been a good thing for me in any city, really. There was more to it, though. I guess one way to describe it is that all the cities I’d ever been to before are sophomores in high school and Barcelona got its PhD ages ago and is a tenured professor. I loved all the walking, the mix of shops and houses and cafes. The narrow streets and tall buildings. People were kind, you could feel and see history all around, and everyone rests on Sundays. I can’t really explain it at all. When I got there, I felt like I fit. Except for the whole language thing, that is.
So, as much as I was thrilled to be getting to go to Paris, I’m trying to not dwell on the fact that I’m here. Here is good, too. I’m enjoying small moments with the kids a little more, knowing that The Plan was for me to be away and for those moments to never even exist. There’s a lovely cool front moving in right now — it’s windy out and chilly. I’m by an open window right now; I hear the wind and the kids playing outside. I love this weather. Good news came in the mail today. Here is not so terrible.
Most of the moms from Sophie’s class knew that I went to Barcelona, and we were talking about traveling. I said something like, You know, if I didn’t have all these kids, I could go to Europe again this year. It was meant to be tongue in cheek, like when I worked in a coffee bar and my friend Jane deadpanned You know, this job would be GREAT if it weren’t for all those pesky customers! But, I think the statement was taken at face value by one of the moms who told me that being a mother means making sacrifices. I don’t even remember who said it, but I do remember thinking, DUDE. You have NO IDEA.
It may happen that I’ll get to Paris this year. Or not. I hope to go there someday. Other places, too. I know I’ll get back to Spain without having to lose myself in the photos I took. Eventually.