This blog, which celebrates the life I live, and through which I hope to inspire others to live lives worth celebrating, has been neglected. I’d like to tell you why.
As you may remember, I turned 40 in December of last year. There were a lot of things I wanted to do this year that didn’t happen, and a lot of things I did do that didn’t turn out like I had planned, and it was a crushing blow to me. To be blunt, I’ve not been very happy. That combined with a ridiculous amount of work that I can’t seem to get ahead of, the stuff I have done needing to be “saved” for WhyGo France, and the fact that I’m at my wit’s end with technology, have resulted in my absence here.
Now, let me tell you why none of it matters and I need to get over myself: I’ve actually done, seen, eaten, drunk and experienced some of the most incredible things this year. And I’d like to tell you about it by giving thanks for just some of the people who have made my 40th year one that is indeed worth celebrating.
First, I give thanks for my friend Alison. Every Friday this summer she was my date to Montpellier’s Estivales, a locally-sourced food and wine festival held on the Esplanade that was one of the most civilized, charming things I’ve ever seen. Although we were often joined by other friends, many times it was just her and me, sitting under the stars, eating yummy treats, and talking about everything and nothing. They were like mini-vacations, and I’m thankful for the effort she made to come out week after week, even when she was exhausted.
Next, I give thanks for my American peeps: during three separate, remarkably different trips, together we discovered and rediscovered just how amazing France can be. Specifically, to Howie and Lydia, who shared my childlike glee in the tides of the English Channel coastline; to Rich, for being as bowled over by Mont St-Michel as I was; and to MK and Bern for one of my most cherished days of 2011, which we spent doing absolutely nothing in two countries.
I also give thanks for my dear friend Marco, who has always opened his home to me, and this year was no different. I thank him for making me eat my vegetables, for making even the most mundane moments seem like an adventure, and for continuing to make Rome a magical place where all my dreams can come true.
Of course, the rest of my Gay Mafia deserves my heartfelt thanks as well for always, always treating me like a doyenne. Whether it’s Luca and Alfio indulging my fascination with language, Alberico asking for (and patiently listening to) my advice, Giovanni meeting me in Paris on a whim, or Vincenzo and Leo deferring to my preference for badly-lit, down-home Roman restaurants, they always find ways to let this weird foreigner feel like she’s one of the gang.
And I am thankful for my dear, sweet Cal. His love of consistency and habits knows no bounds, but time and again this year he’s juggled his rigid daily schedule so that I could follow through on last-minute, hare-brained travel plans. And whether it’s a crack-of-dawn departure or a much-delayed arrival, he’s always my faithful escort to and from the train station.
There are so many others to thank as well – Paul, for that epic day in Paris; Fi, for dragging me out of the house every week against my will; Jess, Katie and Sean, for their confidence, patience and help in making the France Travel Guide the best it can be; Mel, who let me into her life and makes me feel unstoppable; and my parents, whose unconditional support and youthful curiosity always have me striving to make them proud.
Finally, I’d like to give thanks to My Very Best Friend In The Whole Wide World, Dew, who I get to spend a whole week with, the last day of which is my 41st birthday – the perfect ending to a damn good year. It was the email she sent me with her flight details – and my hysterical, joyous sobbing upon reading it – that made me realize I’m lucky, loved, and thankful to the people in my life more than they can ever know.