Have you guys been to Paris?
I only went once.
I wish it was seven times. I’m gonna make it at least three times before I’m dead.
(we are all gonna be dead and it's been blowing my mind these days, so let's talk about that next time.)
I grew up traveling because my parents had migratory careers and dispositions. But we never hit France.
When I went to France, I was running away.
We get only a few chances at that, the running away.
Oh my god, I ran.
It’s hard to run away from home when you are an adult because you have a job and things and people and a cobweb of tethers.
But, It’s also the easiest thing in the world when you don’t have children.
all you do is: just, go.
I was living in a remote northern village when my sister Sarah asked to come to visit me three months after my exodus.
I only have one sister. I have one sister. We were never especially close. we were the opposite. getting older started dissolving that dissonance. but to be clear, I would've expected that call from anyone but her. so, it was all the sweeter. I met her at the airport and butchered my french by trying to conjugate “accuelier" like an idiot. promptly, I got us lost on the way home.
she follows through. i do too, but in the messiest of ways.
one day we were having coffee in one of those perfect french cafes and I told her how weird it is that I was living in the place i wanted to live while painting. here I was, living in france and painting for a living. that was pretty surreal because it’s rare that our fantasies manifest. we toasted, and i figured this was my life from then on. i mean, why not?
champagne and complicated cheese conversations later, we got to know our neighborhood.
At the top of Centre Pompidou we looked down to the courtyard. All brick and splayed out a bit smaller than a football field, the whole space had been chalk outlined into a calendar only seen from above.
inside we were surrounded by the greatest artists known. outside were all the rest of us. i'm always interested in that, the rest of us.
Sarah and I, up there, we made a promise: If either of us runs away from our life, for any reason, at any time, we will know where the other has gone.
We will send each other a postcard, just a month and a date.
we’ll meet there, life-sized, in the chalk outline. maybe I will see her from above, and that will be a relief. But what if she sees me, and I was trying to get there as fast as I can but I also feel self conscious that she is gonna know that I started smoking again.
we’ll have coffee. we will probably cry a lot, trying to figure out how we ended up here.
It’s only/has already been, ten years since that day and I’m trying to buy a house in the suburbs with my husband and two year old.
I can taste that coffee with sarah and see those worn cafe floor tiles like it was yesterday.
i can hear my marriage vows and feel a newborn finding her way to us like it was yesterday.
yesterday, Sarah and I went to the beach. She drove because she knows how much I hate to drive.
we shuttled three children, two of which we hadn’t yet met in that in that coffee shop ten years ago.
we ate ruffled chips and drank lukewarm coffee on a drop cloth I had pulled from my studio. the babies kicked sand in our direction regardless of our instructions.
The beach was really beautiful and the weather was surreal.
It was only a tiny runaway, and we had brought along three stowaways.
But, she had named a date and time and I was there.
It wasn’t France, but the ocean goes both ways, which is the closest we can get for now.