Yesterday was Martine’s birthday. In the mailbox was a card and letter from her half-sister Madeleine in St-Lô in Normandy. In her letter, she wrote that she hoped her sister could come and see her soon, as she is getting on in years. On a day when she should have been celebrating, there were tears in my little girl’s eyes. As it happened, I had the power to change that around. Martine is afraid of going to France alone because she is not good at transportation planning. As it happens, that is my specialty, and my French is better than hers, even though she was born in Paris.
So, I suggested to Martine that I could take a rain check on Peru and join her in France. I don’t think I could have given her a better gift. Martine started dreaming about croissants and how I could have great cheeses for breakfast (yes, I am a devoted cheese-eater). Within minutes, I came up with a plan: Fly to Paris and stay there for a couple of days while visiting her friend Angéla in Montmartre, then take the TGV direct from Gare Montparnasse to St Lô and visit Madeleine and a couple tourist sights, such as the big rock illustrated above. From there, it’s back to Paris to transfer to the TGV from Gare de Lyon to Avignon. A couple days there, then Arles, Nice, and Monte Carlo. Finally, we could take a train to the Cinque Terre in Italy for several days of peace and rest. Then a train to Milan, from which we would fly back to LAX. Martine approved on the spot.
It would have been easy for me to be selfish at this juncture, but I cannot be happy unless Martine is happy. Else my trip to Peru would have been an anxious dirge. Now there is a chance I can get Martine to accompany me to Peru in the future—if our health prevails. I think the trip to France would be a powerful motive for Martine’s back pain to disappear altogether. (So many ailments have a psychosomatic trigger.)