|June 13, 1995: Arrived at Gatwick...|
I was a chaperone for a group of high school seniors on their graduation trip to London and Paris thanks to the invitation of one of my best friends, Joy Thomas. The roundtrip flight, two weeks of hotels, dinners, shows and sights cost $1,200. You can't even buy the plane ticket for that now. I jumped at the chance to go. I'd been dreaming of visiting London since I was a kid. But it was Paris that gave me something that I didn't know I needed to find.
On June 17, I checked into a little hotel called the Bel Air on rue Rampon in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. I was exhausted, a little hung over and really wanted nothing more than a working air conditioner. There wasn't one. I opened the window. Such a simple little act – letting in some air – changed my life.
The fact that I've been living with that Parisian widow, Irène Laureux, and that young American writer, Martin Paige, for twenty years boggles my mind. Their story continued in Remain In Light and will conclude in Leaving Paris, which I just sent off to Sibling Rivalry Press a few weeks ago. Irène and Martin are as real to me as many of my friends. They talk to me, they choose where they want to go (and that was certainly the case while I was writing Leaving Paris) and what they want to do. Sometimes, I feel like they are writing me – that I'm the fictional character being made up in their heads.
|Irène's balcony on rue Rampon, Paris.|
Later this summer, I will make another trip to London and Paris to bookend the 20 years that changed my life and gave me three novels when I never thought I'd be able to write one. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to meet so many incredible people – real and imagined – while I've been writing these books. I plan to list them when I write the acknowledgements for Leaving Paris while sitting at the window of that same hotel (now called Le General) on rue Rampon in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. A city of both darkness and light. I will be 45 years old.
I will open the window – to let in some air – and I have a feeling (call it synchronicity, fate, destiny, divine intervention) that's where I'll find the roadmap for the next 20 years of my life.