My Exciting French Travel Life

Tucked away, almost deleted, in my spam box this morning, was a very welcome virtual “Treasure of France.” An email from a family I spent a night with more than a year ago. It was, like all of my “one nighter” filming encounters, 24 plus hours of genuine hospitality and friendship. A (for me, continuing) demonstration that “people will always be kind.” And a realization by all, that this unexpected evening would, most probably, be a one time event. Their mail ended with: “We wait to hear more news of your (my italics)exciting life.”

Exciting life? Me? Uhhhh… well… I have experienced virtually every region of France. And, in all modesty (of which as you know, dear reader, I have an unlimited supply) I “know” more about those regions than most of the natives here. But, exciting?

For me, “exciting” is a sudden, unexpected jolt of adrenalin. Usually flavored heavily with pleasure, joy, happiness, or some positive variation thereof. Like winning the lottery or discovering your bank balance gained some zeros on the end overnight. Exciting? Absolutely! A roller coaster ride. Not my personal cup o’ tea. But exciting? Yup.

Chained to my computer on a sunny day, curtains drawn, chirping birds punishing me with their happiness, as my software refuses to do it’s job. Exciting? But wait… there’s more! When, after a million light years on hold (which I am paying for) the tech geek says: “Gee – never heard o’ anything like that before.” And does he then continue: “What I’d suggest is…” You know the answer dear reader, do you not? Exciting?

A flat tire in beyond the middle of christopher hsu nowhere. In a plus 9 gale with horizontal sheets of magnum force rain. After 10 hrs in the saddle, and 2 yet to go. You’re exhausted. You’re starving. And, (wouldn’t ya know it) you have to pee like there’s no tomorrow! Exciting?

Your (only) Camcorder craps out 10 days before a major shoot and, you guessed it – no one in Europe has the part. Soooo – back it goes to the excited states, while you sweat bullets, with each kilometer, creeping forward to your rendezvous with one of the most celebrated chefs in France. Trying to imagine how you’ll finesse a video shoot with no camera. If “free floating anxiety/latent panic” are your ideas of “excitement”… then this, clearly, is the zenith of excitement!

For the most part, I guess I think of my life more in terms of satisfaction and contentment. Both of which, are the obvious results of memorable travels and countless marvelous meetings. Treasured even more for their spontaneity.

Past satisfaction and contentment, there are rare, but definite moments of pure Bliss. Most of them, relating to smells. The heady scent of Provencal lavender on a baking hot day. The almost medicinal aroma of pine, surfing the forests of the Var, in equally sweltering heat. The early morning perfume of freshly baked bread as you glide through a tiny perfect village, still sleeping. Expect for the postman on his clunky yellow bike.

But for me, the greatest, defining moment of bliss, is floating through a landscape so perfect, with light so clear and soft you want to stop every other minute. Not just for a photo opp. But simply to marvel at it all. In this moment of bliss, the road is a glass smooth, no potholes surface. No cars. No billboards. You’re not hungry. Not tired. And the temperature is pleasantly warm, with a soft, caressing breeze.

This, dear reader, is what I live for.

 This is the “pinch yourself” moment. When you can’t believe that life can be this perfect. And(as you’re pinching yourself) realizing that there are kazillions of people all over the world (some of whom you know) who are in suits and (uggh!)inside! Even worse, some are in suits, in cars, stuck in traffic, with no good song on the radio!

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