The Magnificent And The Ordinary
Just returned from my yearly travels to the mountains of Italy and southern France (with a stopover in Paris this time). We do this every summer. It’s our chance to air out our minds, re-connect with ourselves and each other, and catch up with family –French-Italian relatives, on my husband’s side, are so much fun!
Every year, the voyage is magnificent. It is breathtaking mountain views, and walks that make your muscles scream with pain and pleasure. It is mountain river water that doesn’t even feel that shockingly cold anymore.
It is my awesome mother-in-law’s soup au pistou, and third helpings of her pizza, and making tough choices in restaurants, and wine every day – ah, so much wine.
It is desserts, too. Can’t ever skip those.
It is seeing the younger generation of the family — the nieces and nephew I’ve known since they were toddlers/preschoolers, come into their own as young adults. Every year I see them, I find each one of them a little different in some new way — and yet, they are the same people I have known for most of their lives.
Every year, the trip is an adventure. This year it was doubly pleasurable. For the last ten years or so, my family had been asking me how my book was coming along. How the writing was going. This year, we shared a champagne bottle (okay, two — we’re a big family ) in honor of My Big News, and I had to say a speech in French and English, thanking those who supported me, who had offered a shoulder to cry on — one of them almost literally — over the years. It felt so good to tell them — hey, things have changed. I am a professional now, at last — this is what I do — I am a writer, I am an author (still getting used to thinking of myself this way).
But at the same time, the crazy — and slightly surprising thing is – nothing has changed. I did not sprout wings (well, not literally, anyhow). Other than the speech and the champagne, and a question or two about the book, it was pretty much still the same me in the mountains, eating, drinking, now laughing with everyone, now staring off into space, journeying along with everybody else under the shifting clouds.
I think getting a book deal is like birthdays that way. Yesterday, I turned 35. It was a special day, sure — phone calls, presents, touching words, cranberry cake of my childhood my mom baked for me (yum!). But also, in many ways it was just another day. The dog had to be walked. I had to go shop for groceries.
What I am trying to say is, I love my life. I love its normal, its everyday, its ordinary, its dirty dishes and distracting kiddie voices when I am trying to write, the working early mornings, the plain pasta with cheese meals. I love those things the same as I love the trips to Paris, the dizzying views, the “Big News,” life’s marvelous, extravagant BAM! parts.
Now, your turn? Have you taken a few weeks off to refresh and unwind lately? At the risk of sounding like a teacher with an old-fashioned school assignment, what did you do this summer? What did you learn?
P.S. This was my first ever working vacation! I wrote every single day — some days more than others, and I loved it. Averaging from fifteen minutes some days to one hour or more other days, I wrote on the plane, on a train, at a dining table, in an armchair, at a desk, in the mountains, in Provence, in Paris…and still had plenty of time to enjoy the vacation part of vacation. I think that might have made it even better, in fact! (Thinking of doing a separate post about this soon.)
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