Tuesday, March 18, 2014


As a child, whenever I got frustrated by failure, my mom would repeat the old refrain: the third time's the charm.

My empty suitcase sets in the corner of my writing room. Unopened travel guides cover the dining table. My husband's computer holds flight and hotel confirmations.

We leave for France in three days and I am not ready. Sure, I've leafed through Rick Steves, asked a few friends their Paris favorites, booked rooms recommended by other friends, but detailed reading like Tom is doing - zilch.

And then it hits me. Maybe I really don't believe the third time is the charm.

The first time I didn't go to Paris, I was traveling through Europe alone, visiting friends here and there, when I ended up in a Swiss hospital with internal bleeding from a ruptured ovarian cyst. After two transfusions and a nasty surgery, I learned I was pregnant. I canceled the French leg of my journey and flew home to Seattle as soon as I could travel.

Today that speck of life is almost twenty-five years old, and I'm headed to Paris to celebrate - yes, you guessed it - my 25th wedding anniversary with her daddy.

My second attempt to experience Paris in June 2010 also failed. I met two friends I'd known when we were all ex-pats in Mexico City, married to Mexican nationals. Judi was British, Leandra is Bahamian, and me, Seattleite through and through. For three days, we explored London together, reminiscing about our shared life in Mexico almost thirty years earlier. We called ourselves the ex-Mexican wives club and joked about writing a book of our exploits.

All too soon, Leandra left for Greece and I hoped to be on my way to Paris with Judi. She wasn't up to it. Instead we returned to her home in Cheltenham and then enjoyed a road trip through northern England and Scotland, ending in Birmingham where we stumbled across a Bob Dylan art exhibition. Who would've thought?

Nine months later, Judi succumbed to the cancer that kept us from crossing the channel to France. I will always cherish our last adventure together.

So now I sit and stare at my unpacked suitcase. Doubt lingers. Will I make it to Paris this time?

No comments: