Friday, April 05, 2013

A New Chapter

            A new chapter in my sabbatical began today. Since February 12, Martha and I have lived the sabbatical leave in France together. I mean, really together. We share a small two bedroom apartment. One room was Martha’s studio and the other was our bedroom. I spent my time in the living room reading and writing and Martha in her studio. We ate every meal together, drove together, walked together, shopped together, and talked together. Today we are apart.
            Yesterday we drove 700 km north to Orly Airport in Paris to spend the night. Martha flew successfully to Bergen Norway today to begin her 3 week artist-in-residence at an atelier in Bergen with a former student, who now runs the atelier, Asbjorn Hollerud. It’s a big deal for her and I am excited for her show on April 20 in Bergen.
            I drove back today alone. That was a big deal too. Martha is the best navigator I could ever imagine. She knows directions and has hunches about which highway to take. We have been driving France successfully since 2000 together. I drive, she navigates. Today I drove and navigated alone. It was weird.
            First of all, the radio would not turn off. I left Paris in crazy traffic with a French radio station going at full blast. It would not respond to the volume knob or go off. It just blathered. The desk clerk gave me specific directions how to get out of our construction encircled hotel on to the major auto-route A-6. It worked!
            In heavy and slow traffic, I figured out how to connect my iPhone to the radio and play music (Over The Rhine) continually. But I got out of Paris successfully. The photo above could be anywhere from Paris south 500 km. Grey, foggy and drizzly and cold. The nicest thing about Paris was getting out of it! The next big hurdle was to get through Lyon. The A-6 turns into the A-7 right in the heart of the city. So I used my gps and dialed in a hotel south of the city. It worked just great until it told me to take a turn in 400 meters. A turn showed up, I took it, and found myself downtown Lyon, along the Rhone River, in heavy traffic, away from the A-6 or 7! Where was Martha when I needed her!
            Luckily I saw a sign pointing to A-6 direction of Marseilles (south of Lyon) and headed to it and go out of Lyon after about an hour of wandering around laughing! Yes, I laughed at getting myself into this.
            The trip south got better and better, sunnier and sunnier as I headed into Languedoc. Martha emailed me when I got to a MacDonald’s rest stop (the one restaurant with free wifi) that she had already landed in Bergen. She beat me by two hours!
            Now my next chapter begins of reading and writing in more solitude than I’ve ever had. What a privilege.


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