Jim and his sister Virginia went to Paris. I know! I know! You were expecting a story of romance and bliss with views of Paris through rose-colored glasses, or at least with rosé in a wine glass. You are possibly thinking: “Just how rich is Mr. Jim since he was in Destin just a few days ago and then off to Paris before you could say kiss my beret?” A few folks may raise timid hands and ask, “Debbie, why did he go with his sister and leave you at home? How could you stand for that?”
Answers tumble forth like a saucy mademoiselle: (a) Mr. Jim spends most of his travel time driving between the IGA Grocery and Discount Food Outlet, hunting for the cheapest bargains. Last time I checked, he only had a bowl of change to roll in wrappers to exchange for about $12.00 in folding money. No, he didn’t turn on a dime from Destin to Paris – he went to Paris with his sister too many years ago. (A+) The answer to why a total Francophile would sit at home while her husband gallivants in Paris with his sister takes a spell to unfold. Settle down with a cushion to your back for this one. Maybe even go to the bathroom first. Jim and Virginia are supportive siblings who stood together solidly, always with a sense of humor, for many years while their elderly parents and step-parents experienced health problems. They met in hospital rooms, doctor’s offices, nursing homes and funeral homes, with no special reports to Trip Advisor or matching tacky, tourist T-shirts. After this saga of their lives was over, the bedraggled pair stood together at the last grave site and vowed they would go someplace together in March each year to find some fun. Virginia specified sun and warmth, but I omitted that part in the sentence above and in most of the travel. Try finding a warm vacation in March on a Caribbean island on a small budget! I was appointed as the travel agent, and I turned the computer upside down hunting for the best for them on their budget. I knew they deserved a wonderful week together with no worries of anything at home. I stayed behind for this reason.
Going for a bonus answer, I will add to (a) and (A+) above. This one is more difficult. I’m dawdling at the keyboard… Travel to Paris, or any special place, is often for more reasons than the annual vacation or romance. Far from those reasons is another that is weighed down with somberness. My fingers fly across the keyboard with ease when I tell about the latest crazy thing that Jim said, but the circumstances that cause friends, family and others to pack and go to a retreat are sad to relate. Images and words in my mind reach my fingers at a slower, more painful pace. I see and hear: a sweet child who has lost his curly hair, surrounded by machines, tubes and needles while his eyes see only a gray window view of dullness; a doctor telling a middle-aged mother of three that the biopsy for breast cancer is positive; a surgeon gently giving news to an elderly wife that her husband didn’t make it; an executive briskly informing a diligent, hard-working employee that the company is down-sizing and he is no longer needed; a police officer calling to say, Ma’am, … was arrested for D.U.I.; and the deepest hurt is the experience of a loved one in a coffin covered with flowers. No, I didn’t personally experience all of this, but some of it happened to me.
The bonus answer, difficult to write, has no special award except more love for those who have traveled down these sad roads with anxiety, fearfulness, grief and heartache. Beauty, peacefulness, a glimmer of hope and a place to find laughter with no traces of hurt are desperately needed after, or even during these trials. Yes, that is why you will find a brother and sister in Paris together, young children at Disney World possibly for the last time, a widow on a cruise and a young man hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Virginia agreed to travel with Jim, probably thinking since he could show her the world with his considerable experience. She may not have weighed in his lack of a sense of direction. They wandered around the streets of Paris and then could not find their hotel. They wandered some more. They caught the attention of a helpful lady who offered assistance. She asked the name of the hotel. Jim said they couldn’t remember, but it was something-something-Eiffel Tower. She looked at them in pity and said she was sorry she couldn’t help them. They were on their own.
You don’t have to be on your own when you go to Paris. Talk to the helpful folks at I Love Paris Apartments. They understand Alabama English and much more. Tell them Jim sent you, and right away they will know to plant a GPS device on your head, or locate a seeing-eye dog for you. Now I’m kidding, but you will be in good hands with a wonderful experience to last a lifetime or until you return again for the umpteenth time.
I asked Jim for his sister’s phone number and called. “Virginia, would you like to go to Paris with me? I know you would prefer a warm island in the Caribbean, but I noticed that Paris is warmer than South Alabama.”
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