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At Home and In Paris

Updated: Sep 26, 2022


 

Birthdays are Precious Whenever …


This promises to be a great week in pandemic plagued Paris. I awoke to an article in BFM, a French TV/News and internet station. I knew it was coming, and I have become used to the slow run-up to more restrictions and total confinement threatened by our health Minister. It seems inevitable that there will be another confinement much like the one in March, as the hospitals in the area of Paris are nearly full, and the vaccination rate is low due to lack of supply. My own American President has refused to share the stores America has, but who can blame him.


Here in the EU, we have sold millions of doses to other countries, including the UK, whose variant has caused a surge in the numbers of the sick and dying here in France. I am heartsick and somewhat afraid, although Ted and I are careful in the extreme. The days have turned grey. So why should I expect a great week? Next week I get a manicure, a facial, and most importantly, a haircut! Over the past year, there have been long stretches of time when such luxuries were quite simply out of reach, and we reentered what felt to me to be the cave-man era. We were limited in time (one hour per day), one kilometer from home (per day), and for months on end personal services were simply shuttered.


And did I also say that Friday is my birthday? Last year, we went into confinement on March 17, ruling out the celebration Ted had planned. I decided it was okay to remain 70 for another year as a consolation prize. This year I was postponing for just a week and had planned to drive to Chantilly overnight for a terrific dinner in the restaurant at a hotel we adore, with our terrace overlooking the Park of the Chateau. The park and its acres of splendid gardens and fountains were to be open for walking, and if our luck held out, we’d have one of our sunnier days. But France put the brakes on, limiting activities outside the home once again.

I had thought that the last genuinely memorable birthday I had was planned as a surprise by Ted for my 60th. I was away for one night in Oklahoma City speaking and supervising, returning home by eleven in the morning on Sunday. I hugged Ted and ran upstairs to change into my caftan. When I looked out the window on the upstairs landing, I was surprised by the stunning scene in our garden below. Ted had planned a birthday luncheon for sixty of my best friends, all women. It was one of the most joyous birthdays ever. Everyone was so good at keeping Ted’s secret that I had begun to feel like no one remembered me; no one cared.


This year I am thankful for the small pleasures. Thanks to Ted’s indulgence of the ‘little girl’ that I am at whatever age, a real American birthday cake appeared! There were colorful balloons strong across the street at the level of our kitchen windows.

My dear friend Mona sent festive and affectionate wishes from Portugal all day long, and Mickey was there purring wherever I went in the house,

What a delight to find that Jeffrey, Michelle, and Jenny sent loving gifts and messages, too.


The biggest surprise was found in my inbox: the cover of my memoir, the unexpected result of being confined at home much of the year.


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