May is motherhood memoir month

Dream Travel

and how connections come about

I’m off to France next week and just realized how much of a dream trip it is, especially as a mom who sometimes didn’t get out much.

“But when she does get out,” the kids used to say, “she goes far.”

Next week I’ll fly to France, cheap. (I know cheap is a word to avoid; I know this because I just took a travel writing workshop and read that “cheap” is a bad word in writing about travel, but I’m using it anyway, at least as a place holder until I can come up with a better word).

I’ll be getting to know Brittany on a DIY writing retreat with a writer-friend I met online at the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic gets bad press, but lots of good things came from this difficult time, as often happens if we’re willing to look close enough and put our rose-colored glasses to work.

I’m used to looking for that rosy underside of less than ideal circumstances as a mom. You don’t have to be a mom to utilize this skill, but I’ve found many circumstance call for it in the raising of six offspring.

This latest trip I’m taking is inspired by the novel I’m writing, about a woman who knew Van Gogh and Gauguin. In Brittany, I’ll stay in Vannes before meeting my writing friend and then we’ll go to Pont Aven where Gauguin painted, taught, and lived for awhile. This sounds like a privileged existence, and I acknowledge that it is. Yet it will cost very little.

To back up, I took an Iowa Writer’s Workshop with Sandra Scofield when the pandemic was newly underway and one of the participants was from France. Intriguing. My family and I had recently been to France to meet cousins who had contacted my husband’s family in the 1980s to say they thought his grandfather was also their grandfather, leaving a child behind in 1918. DNA testing proved their story to be true, and this led to a beautiful journey of connecting families worldwide that continues to unfold.

So my interest in France coincided with both family interests and my novel. Now I also had a French writing buddy, one of the benefits of connecting through online writing workshops during COVID and beyond. We’ve been meeting online since the end of the workshop and last year I went to Paris to meet Anne-Claire who teaches Greek and Latin Literature at La Sorbonne. Over the past year, we’ve been planning a DIY writing retreat in which we will meet up at her family home in the Golfe de Morbihan and work on our novels.

Part of the reason I can do this is because the hub works for an airline which provides the benefit of flying at 90% off when seats are available (hence the flying “cheap”). Next week looks good for flights to Paris, but flying “stand-by” is always an adventure. If nothing else, raising six children has made me flexible, up for just about anything.

This is not always my life, but it is my sometimes life. I think back on long days homeschooling five of the six children, and what my dreams were then. We had never planned for all these children, all but one now raised. Looking back, I know I had different dreams of what my life might be like, but now I wonder if I could’ve dreamed of a better life. I don’t think so. This is as good as it gets– or at least, good enough for me.

Prompt- What are your dreams for the future? Where would you like to go and how can you imagine getting there without breaking the bank?

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