An unexpected project is taking an unexpectedly longer time to wrap up than I could have imagined. Instead of flying out to Turkey, I delay it one week (scramble, scramble to re-arrange things). But the upside, is the extension gives me the weekend, in one place, to work. And a few days to overlap with Martina’s stay.
Nervous I’ll witness another friend-visit-disappointment, I send her all kinds of warnings: I work a lot, at weird hours, I can’t be social, I’ll ignore you, you might start to hate me because I have to do this work, no matter what. I won’t be any fun.
Of course she laughs, she understands, she has work to do as well, and she’s got a pile of books and sunshine to catch up on. She tells me that she wants to make me coffee in the morning and dinner at night, and will otherwise leave me be.
It is the sweetest thing, ever.
She arrives and we spend relaxing south-of-France style days doing our own thing while the sun is out. When the guilt of what I haven’t done or seen or accomplished (my French lessons stalled by the second week) starts to creep in as my trip winds down, Martina is amazing at reminding me to think of all that I was able to do, while here. Of course there weren’t 30 days of tourist-ing or sight-seeing, but I lived in south France, in a tiny village, I walked up through the mountains, beautiful castles, Bastille Day in Villefranche, the Tour with my friends in the Pyrenees…and in true Martina Gruppo form, this trip is not even close to being “over”, even if only 48 hours remain.
My favorite hours are those we share, talking, laughing, trading ideas and thoughts, over wine and panzanella (sp?), the amazing Italian concoction that transforms old baguettes (and with my carb appetite, I supply Martina with a few!) with the most delicious ingredients.
And then her friend Rachael arrives, a lovely mixture of gold-blond hair and laughter. And bacon! To my utter, jaw-dropping surprise, Martina sends a message to Rachael to smuggle in some REAL bacon from the UK as a gift for my new Turkish landlord, Namik (who is craving real bacon). And, when I’d thought all hope was lost, there it is. One beautiful package of frozen bacon (which I’ll take to Paris, freeze in hotel’s shared freezer, then take to Orly airport, fly to Turkey…present to Namik and get profuse thanks and a hug. All because of bacon, yes, bacon. And Rachael, xo!)
We get along famously — though it’s hard not to when Martina takes us to the tiniest hole-in-the-wall restaurant just 15 minutes down the road in Villeneuve les Corbieres. The decor is quaint, the patrons are simple. The food is. Out. Of. This. World. Amazing.
Rachael, Martina and I laugh our way through five courses of amazing-ness. Duck with a cherry sauce, fish with three tapenades…every bite is out of this world. But the creme brulee.
Warm and perfect. They split the last dish into three, one little bowl for each of us to “oohhh” and “ahhh” over. And we do.
It’s late in the night when we return home. Music goes up, wine bottles come out, and my stay in France ends with a dance party. It’s hilarious and lovely and quite perfect. I try not to think about leaving tomorrow. Just focus on the here and now and enjoy every last second.
It starts to rain, and then pour. The hot, humid summer days are washed away in a torrent of water and lightening. We watch from the window. And then we’re standing at the front door, in our south of France best dresses after an amazing dinner, setting down glasses of red wine and laughing…
Who hasn’t wanted to run, barefoot, through the warm summer rain in south of France, with their girlfriends?
So we run. Together.
The flood of rain, gushing down the cobbled road, splashes up with each step.
We run to the first lightpost… and then the next!
Laughing and screaming, as rain pours.
We start to turn back to the safety of the house…but then stop. And actually just stand in the rain.
Rain drips from my saturated hair. White skirt and gray shirt stick to my body. And the rain pours down.
All I can think or say, It’s like a movie, this is like a movie. This is too amazing….not just the rain, but this, south of France, dinner, Martina and Rachael, the chance to be here, the ups and downs it took to make this trip at all.
I run inside and grab my camera. Martina and Rachael swirl each other around, at midnight, in the middle of Rue de Gleon in Villeseque des Corbiers, in the rain.