Thinking about how Rainflower Ivy passed and Frank and Annie have become old makes me feel the pressure of time. I’m not getting younger, either, and there’s still a lot I want to do.
When I mention this to Dante, he encourages me to do whatever I’ve got on my wish-list.
“You never know,” he says. “That’s what we discovered, didn’t we?”
I tell him I always thought I wanted to travel. I’m not sure if I still do, since he can’t come with me, but it’s just something I always thought would be important to me, as an artist, a musician, and a writer.
“Do it!” he says. “If you want to travel, travel! Before you know it, you’ll adopt a cat, like you were thinking of doing, and that will just make it that much more difficult to travel. And what if you adopt a kid?”
So I take off for France. And as soon as I get there, I wonder why. I miss Dante already.
But then I see the way the light glances off the stone walls. We don’t have light like this back at home! I pull out my sketchbook and spend the morning drawing. Oh, I’m so glad I came!
I still miss Dante. The courtyard garden at the hostel, which is in an old stone manor, is so romantic that I wish I could share it with him. I play my guitar there, playing blues, rather than love songs.
In the afternoon, I decide to take in the sights. I ride the guest moped out to the Nectary.
The man who runs it is really nice. Turns out that his family are nectarists from way back.
“Is it a profitable business?” I ask.
“Oh! We are not in it for the profits,” he says. “Oh, no. But yes. It is very good in that way.”
He teaches me how to make nectar. My first batch is pretty bitter, but my friend assures me I’ll get the hang of it. I order a nectar-press to be shipped home so I can master the skill through time.
I sampled a few bottles of excellent vintage, and if I could make something even a third as good, then Dante will be in for a treat when I share it with him.
By the time my batch of nectar is done, it’s after midnight, and I’m tired.
The proprietor shows me to the guest room.
Back home, even though I’m a painter, a street artist, and now, a novelist, nobody really pays me much attention. I get the occasional discount that businesses like to give semi-famous people. And now and then, some store looking for a promotion will ship me some free furniture. But mostly, I’m ignored.
However, over here, people seem to know who I am. They’ve seen my paintings. They read my first book. And, as a result, I don’t get much privacy. Even while I’m sleeping, somebody sneaks into my bedroom and takes photos of me.
The next morning dawns in bright sunshine. I cannot believe the golden light here. At home, we see the sun for maybe twenty minutes every third day, and even then, half the sky is clouded over. But here, there’s not a single cloud, and I rediscover that I have a shadow!
I love the plane trees that dot the fields, and the gentle hills that surround the valleys. Every field is planted with grapes. And the people are so friendly.
The food is amazing, too. I eat a truffle quiche at a bistro in the town square, and I try to savor every bite so I can make something like this back home.
At the hostel, I meet another traveler. He’s come from Asia, and he tells me about missed flights and poor lodgings and lost luggage.
“What an adventure!” I say. “Do you ever wish you were back in the quiet of home?”
“Never,” he says. “I was born to wander. This is the life!”
Vacation passes so quickly. Before I know it, it’s my last day. I decide to spend it back at the Nectary, where I teach the proprietor how to play frisbee. By the time I head out for my flight, I’ve got another best friend.
I’m so excited to go home. The trip was fantastic, and I’m glad I came.
But coming home is the sweetest part always of going away.