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Carpentras, France


Our sturdy farmhouse in Carpentras

Garden after the rain


We had been looking forward to Connor and Molly's wedding in Provence for many months, but true to form, Nat and I had left a long list for the last minute, creating a week of strum und drang. Our formal dresses were only ready a few days prior, and then there were the "wine country casual" outfits, shawls and shoes that weren't from the Addidas or Birkenstock families. As if that weren't enough for these non-retail peeps, there were also white sneakers that needed to be purchased for our stopover at the Monte Carlo Tennis Club. With much stress and reprioritizing café life for shopping life, we did it, melting into our seats on the plane but all ready to jump in when we got to France.


Michael, Mason, Wellsie, Julesie, Lisa, Moke and Manda hanging in a square in Carpentras.


Well wouldn't you know it. Ms "I've Never Had COVID and I'm Likely Immuned To It" got a shock after, feeling a little under the weather, testing positive. Which set everything to a screeching halt; the informal socializing, wine soiree, wedding, poolside brunch, trip to Monte Carlo, long, late night chats with Nat's friends. Cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.


Seriously.


Around one of their thirtieth birthdays, I was having a conversation with my two young friends about how there are good things about getting older. They stared back with a mixture of skepticism and curiosity. I inarticulately tried to explain how "the gift of time" makes it easier to deal with difficult things, having more expeirence to shape the way we choose to respond to things. There develops if not a confidence, an understanding that this too shall pass and that eventuaally all would be OK. I told them the story about my bosses boss, the sexual harasser who held so much sway over me for some years, his subsequent fall from grace and then my complete understanding of how miserable I'd allowed him to make me when I saw his old man toe nails hanging out of those cheap Made in China sandals. And that the lesson helped me internalize that while some things in the moment might seem unbearable, we always have a choice about how much credence to give them.


What I learned last week is that some people who are still in their twenties have that ability already. It took a day to mourn implications of missing the festivities, as well as banishing the frustration of all the fruitless running around we'd done, but after that, we began to accept our situation and sort out how to best manage our days. We picked up Nat's friends, who had travelled almost 24 hours straight to get to us, with car windows open and masks on, and stayed that way for the rest of the week. We ate outside with a table that had a COVID and a non-COVID end. We wandered through markets masked, found restaurants with outdoor dining, spent a day at the pool, and who knows what else. It was at times awkward, tiring, dreary and annoying. But Nat and her friends, who were more than somewhat trapped in our house of sickness (Nat eventually succumbed), held us to a higher standard by handling the situation with poise flexibility, compassion.


Outdoor dining

Nice to get back to the lunches we grew up with as kids


Des artichaux at the Pernes-les-Fontaines market. We looked but didn't touch.

Beautiful and delicious local cheese wrapped in beech leaves. We looked, we bought, we ate.

Nat, Maxy and Talia before dinner one evening at Crillon Le Brave


And while we didn't attend the wedding reception, Nat and I did stand at the back of the ceremony, which was beautiful and very special.


Nat and me being sheepish. Photo credit Michael Asphar

Pre-ceremony. Sorry, no pictures of the bride and groom yet. Photo credit Michael Asphar

Chateau Martinay, where the reception was held. Photo credit Michael Asphar


But on our last day, we struck it rich. Arriving in Luberon on what we had been told was going to be an unpleasant mistral day, we took directions from a random website to walk from the hilltown village of Bonnieux to the next one, Lacoste. On what turned out to instead be the most perfectly sunny day with a light breeze, we followed a wildflower laden path through gardens, past olive groves, into cherry trees, where we feasted until our bellies hurt. Then early season grape vines, lavender just about to pop and up the hill through poppies to a spot where we picnicked and admired the view of all we'd traversed. We later climbed to the top of Lacoste, which is as medieval as villages get, and perplexingly mostly occupied by Savannah College of Art and Design.


We looped back a different way, and while we may have walked more than we wanted, we were all, in our own ways, filled to the brim with what the day had laid out for us. While the week had thrown challenges at us, we ended with enough of a feeling of fulfillment and connection to negate any headaches that came before. A big thank you to three intelligent, funny, curious and all around lovely young people for making what could have been a most depressing week memorable.


Beginning of our walk

They have such a different flavor from ours. Better, of course.

Driveway with a view

Lavender waiting to pop with grapevines in the background and Bonnieux further away

Ye Very Olde Lacoste

When was this door was made, by whom and using what?

Inspiration for a Wes Anderson movie, Lacoste

Stone and vibrant green, such a good combination

Worn castle steps at Lourmarin

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