I’ve met some go-getters…and big chance takers
I’ve met some young hearts with something to prove…
There’s a lot of wonder left inside of me and you
Thank God even crazy dreams come true.
Carrie Underwood, “Crazy Dreams”
Back when I first began this blog, I created a list of things I wanted to do in my life as an attempt to gain some bit of control in the chaos and uncertainty that I found myself wading through. I had recently quit my full time job and was working with a temporary placement agency, and I was denied acceptance into the publishing program for a graduate program. What did I want to do with my life? What was my next step? For all of the factors that seemed out of my control, I thought that I would put what I wanted into writing and work towards what I could: learn martial arts, host more dinner parties, volunteer again at the Humane League, and, most importantly to me, this:
Long-Term Goals: Spend a month in S. France and/or touring Europe.
That was the biggie…something I’ve always dreamed of doing, never believing that I would be able to return anytime soon. That is, until I was sitting in the Barnes and Noble café with a friend, flipping through the pages of a writing magazine. An ad in the back of the magazine caught my eye — a tiny box advertising an artists’ retreat in the South of France — and my breath caught in my throat for a split second. I could have kept going, could have turned the page, but running purely on instinct, I interrupted my friend and sent the web address to myself as a text. That night, I researched it. A week later, I submitted my application.
On Sunday, nearly six months later, I’ll be boarding a plane by myself to spend the month of November in a little town tucked into the mountains in the South of France. And, like all of my adventures, I won’t believe it’s really happening until I get back.
My mom had said that my trip to France nearly ten years ago was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and for all that I had experienced, all that it had done for me, it absolutely was one that I will never forget. But still, I vowed that one day I would return to the place where I’ve always felt a connection; to the place that has always, in some way, called me home.
Studying literature in college, I’ve always felt envious of those writers who spent months or even years in Paris — drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at cafés as they connected with other literary geniuses who were also working on their latest works. I don’t drink coffee and I don’t smoke, but I would do both if it meant I could spend my time writing in France like Ernest Hemingway or Carson McCullers. I reminded myself that those were different times then (and I have obviously romanticized it) — back in the 20s and 40s, you could pick up and move to France for awhile just to write. Back then, it was a different life.
But maybe not so different…
Soon I’ll be realizing this dream for myself, connecting with other artists and immersing myself in a world I’ve created, reuniting with familiar characters and telling a story that has long lingered in my soul. For the first time in a very long time, I intend to take off my editor hat and delve back into the creative mindset, to block out the rest of the world, to ignore time and transport myself to a place where only my words and I exist.
The idea seems so fantastic, so surreal, that I almost want to ask what the catch is. Only I already know — the catch is the challenge to myself, the first step in becoming truly independent as I navigate a foreign land completely on my own. And I couldn’t be more excited, or more nervous, to do just that.
When I first broached the idea, I questioned whether it was really possible. One year ago, I know it wouldn’t have been, as I had been working a full time job and thus had other responsibilities. But life has a funny way of rearranging itself to make things happen, of connecting the dots in ways that are only recognizable in hindsight.
Events, situations, moments add up, I’ve realized, to create a picture. Sometimes there are big, gaping holes that leave you wandering, wondering, but there will always be that one piece that fits just right, that will lead all of the others to fall perfectly into place.
My picture is far from complete. But finding where I fit is the best part of this puzzle.