Thursday, July 27, 2006

Back in the drink

Yesterday morning was the first time I’ve been in the Bay for over a year. After a year of indoor swimming, I was finally back home, bobbing in the middle of the bay next to a buoy with the fog horns blowing and the fog so thick that Alcatraz Island was the only thing I could see.

The first week has been a whirlwind of necessity and luxury. The necessities included buying cars (a pair of Toyota hybrids), setting up cellphones and whacking the weeds away from my roses. The luxuries included carne asada burritos at La Taqueria, high tea at Lovejoy’s and a shopping expedition to Rainbow Grocery.

We had an extraordinary year in Paris, doing and seeing more than we had hoped. We found Paris to be a magical city and the French people to be charming. But at the end of the year we were ready to go home.

Going away for a year is like putting a comma in a sentence – you pause, but don’t interrupt the flow. Going away for two years is like putting a period in a sentence – when you come back, you have to start all over again.

Besides, nobody even thinks of going swimming in the Seine.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Provence Light

We just returned from a week in Provence followed by a week in Dardogne, the poor-man’s Provence (Provence-lite if you will).

I loved the light in Provence, that clear yellow luminance that held everything in its crystalline precision, daring you to paint it or write poetry to it or at least cook a great meal and eat it outdoors.

All activities in Provence were accompanied by the Cicadas, who I thought were saying “ne t’inquiet pas” (don’t worry) but who my more bloody-minded boys decided were saying ne tue mois (don’t kill me).

In Provence, we stayed near Beaume de Venise and drank their sweet wine (great on glass one, a bit much on glass two, undrinkable on glass three). Austen was enthralled by the local go-kart track. He has decided that his life’s calling for this month is to be a race-car driver. Alexander loved wallowing in the pool with his signature drowning water-rat stroke. Yvonne took advantage of her first week to contract a scary case of strep throat.

We ate out at the local public pool, whose no-name restaurant featured a different and extraordinary local specialty each day. This to me is the essence of France – that you can walk into a public pool, saunter over to the snack bar, and have an exquisite, home-cooked meal. Savoir faire impresses most where you expect it least.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Prunes to plums

After my last game of water polo in Paris, I sat drinking a beer with my friend Chuck, who was sporting a snazzy black and blue eye, courtesy of a wild shot I took during the game.

“When I first saw you last year, you were so burned out you looked like a prune, just sucked dry,” said Chuck. “Now look at you, you’re whatever a prune is before it dries out.”

“A plum?” I offered.

“Yeah, a plum.”

That, at the end of the day, is what a year in Paris did for me. Thirteen roller-coaster years in a startup – not erased, but softened. I didn't make it all the way through my "Things I'm Gonna Do In Paris" ToDo list, but I definitely nailed the first item on the list.