Bon Voyage, Dear Friends

Sunday–5 days until France.

Friday, 15 of my dear friends joined me for dinner at a great local restaurant to say “bon voyage.” It was terrific! I felt so special to know that these beautiful women are my friends. Some are closer than others, but as I told them, collectively they have been a strong support group for me.

So I had an idea. I didn’t want them to buy me gifts. No room to pack them. So I gave each of them a gift. But rather than buying gift, I gave each of them something special that belongs to me; something that would make them think of me. I carefully chose each item and thoughtfully decided who would get it.

Some examples:

A doily that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Where ever I’ve lived, it always has a pillar candle resting in the center.

A decorative clay vase I bought while traveling in Jordan.

A piece of pottery I made several years ago (during my primitive stage).

A tuscan-style vase and pitcher that I displayed in an alcove in my kitchen.

A hand-tooled leather handbag, antiquish, that always hung on my vanity mirror.

A necklace I bought in Jordan (for my friend who loves chunky jewelry and makes her own).

A print I bought in Paris.

A book, “The Elements of Style,” for my friend who is just starting her writing career. My favorite writing book. It was in my suitcase and ready to go to France. I can get another.

I was so excited to share these treasures with my friends. It makes me feel as though I’ve left a piece of me with them, so I’m not really leaving them. And I wanted each of them to know how special they are to me.

Bon Voyage, dear friends. You all better visit me in the French Riviera!

Generic Works Sometimes

If your are not concerned with politics, you will be if you ever decide to move to a foreign country.

Republic, democracy, social medicine, border control–it matters when you think about crossing the border for any length of time. My mother called this morning to say a U.S. government shutdown could affect getting a VISA (but I think that is for incoming visitors to the U.S.). I won’t comment on Republic vs. democracy, but I will say there is plenty of bureaucracy when trying to get into another country.

Healthcare is the issue that most concerns me; not from a political perspective, but from a practical one: I need it.

France, of course, has socialized medicine. And whether Americans agree or not is irrelevant to me at this juncture. It may work in my favor. I opted not to get international insurance because the deductibles are so high it doesn’t make sense. Especially after I read that healthcare, even without insurance, is less expensive in France than in the States.

So how do you get your prescriptions filled when you are spending 3 months in another country? You thank God for generic drugs and ask for a 90-day supply before you go. And I always ask for an emergency antibiotic to carry with me, just in case.

It’s just another one of those details.

Arles, France

My new home.

My new home for the next 3 months is about 15 minutes south of Arles, France.