Bird On A Wire


Even though I’ve been frenetically planning my return to France I haven’t been committing to it. An enormous IF has preceded every thought, all plans have been noted in the hypothetical tense, rather than the future.  I’ve made endless lists: confirm reservation before transferring money, book tour before confirming hotel, decide whether and when to rent a car, and all the mundane but necessary decisions that go into making a well-orchestrated trip. But until today I didn’t pay for anything, refused to stop waffling: this flight or that, will there be anywhere to eat near that hotel, can I handle a carry on and a suitcase plus a briefcase all by myself when walking on the ferry and riding the TGV?

Because even though I’ve always been the travel agent in the family, in the end, I’ve always asked Shel to give his seal of approval to the final itinerary, not to mention being the person who carried the passports, held my hand at takeoff and landing, hauled luggage onto trains, opted for comfort whenever possible, walked down dark streets with me, and generally increased my bravery and confidence a thousandfold, since it meant that I wasn’t alone in the world, and that if worse came to worst, we’d be in it together.

But today I pulled the trigger, as it were. I booked everything possible, faxed notes to banks in two countries, and had to actually close my eyes in order to click Submit on the button that will send me to Europe on Business Class, an expense I’ve never before contemplated. But somehow, Shel made me do it. I arrayed before me all the things that would be so much harder about this trip without him, and decided to give myself the one thing I could think of to make it a bit easier. I couldn’t bring myself to do it with my eyes open, but I managed to get it done.

I’ve decided to start my trip in England, and that too is fraught. Shel loved England, and spent quite a bit of time there. But I’ve barely been, and I want to be away longer that the 90 days I’m allowed by a tourist visa in France. So to England I will go, where it will probably be grey and rainy, just like it will be at home.

From there I’ll go spend a month of French immersion at a language institute on the Riviera, perfecting my language skills and being in a place where Shel and I never were together.

And then I’ll go back to our home town of Uzès, where I’ll hold a memorial for Shel, weep with all of our dear friends,  and see what of our old life still holds its arms out to me. I’ve timed it so that I’ll be away for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Shel’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day. It’s been quite a day, getting to the point where I can tell you that. Soon it will be six months since Shel died.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America

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16 Comments on “Bird On A Wire”

  1. cigalechanta Says:

    the post’s title means different things to us in America. It was the name of serie s but we had no idea what the title meant

    I try to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 03:22:36 +0000 To:

  2. Abra Bennett Says:

    The title comes from a Leonard Cohen song:

    Like a bird on a wire

    Like a drunk in a midnight choir

    I have tried in my way to be free

  3. Barbara Jacquin Says:

    I know the song well. This will be a wonderful, positive experience I’m sure. I’ve always wanted to do an intensive at that school if it’s the one in Antibes.

  4. Henk and Greta Says:

    Well done, well done my dear. We knew you were going to do it, it was just a matter of when. We really look forward seeing you and will follow your blog during travelling. It always feels that we travel together, reading it.
    I love Jennifer Warnes’ interpretation of this song on her album Famous Blue Raincoat. Great song.
    Big hug.

  5. aromacucina Says:

    Let me know if Italy beckons. Not sure about the timing, but you are always welcome.

  6. roostamama Says:

    cheers…..glad you are going back to France….look forward to your posts…..I know what you mean about lifting the suitcases onto the trains…its tough because sometimes people who are getting off, block the way & you have to elbow your way up the steps….its hard with 2 bags and a giant pocketbook or laptop case….

  7. Marigene Says:

    I happy to read you will be going back to where you love and feel at home…

  8. Agnès Says:

    are you going to the french school in Villefranche sur Mer ?

  9. Abra Bennett Says:

    Yes, Agnès, do you know it?

  10. Good to hear you are doing something adventurous and meaningful. Where are you going in England?

  11. Agnès Says:

    I have never been in Villefranche, but as a teacher (I teach french as a foreign language here in the Institut d’Agronomie in Montpellier) I had students in my classes who stayed there a while. It seems a very good school, I believe you have to speak french the whole day ! Quite exhausting though…I sometimes dreamed to teach there.
    You will tell us how it went. Bon courage pour tout : la traversée, l’Europe, Uzès, les vieux amis à retrouver, l’automne et peut-être l’hiver ?

  12. Abra Bennett Says:

    Merci, Agnès, pour les bonnes pensées, j’en aurai besoin, certes. Et oui, j’y resterai pour l’hiver, jusqu’au mi-fevrier.

  13. Agnès Says:

    where in England are you going ? London ?

  14. Abra Bennett Says:

    Yes, London, and touring around also. I’m crossing my fingers for decent weather.

  15. Agnès Says:

    one of my daughters lives (and works) in London. She would love to meet you. How can she contact you through email ?

  16. Abra Bennett Says:

    Is she on Facebook? She can find me there.

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