A few years ago my friend Janet said to me “I’m saying yes, yes to everything.”
I thought, wow, Kimberly just said the same thing to me a few months before. She said, “Fredde, I’m saying yes to everything, every single new opportunity, it’s yes.” I didn’t want to be left behind — I prefer no – so I tried to get out of my comfort zone and sometimes, but not all the time, I was going to say “Yes!”
So what did I do? Nothing. Pretty much nothing. But I did say yes when Janet asked if I wanted to join her writing workshop in St. Tropez. That also meant getting to St. Tropez, which was a whole big schlep. My husband and I were planning a trip anyway so we arranged it around this workshop. I headed out alone to Paris, so I could acclimate to the time change. Two days and several croissants later I found my way to the train station. I had been thinking I should buy that ticket ahead of time, but Janet said it would be no problem getting one. Guess what? I was right and was stuck at the station for hours waiting for the next train. Still, I flowed with it, lost a favorite jacket carting my luggage in and out of bathrooms while I waited. But I finally made it, several hours late — and I might finally be over my romantic fantasy about train travel.
Somewhere, about an hour before the train arrived at St. Tropez, my cell phone went haywire. I needed to text or call the person sent to fetch me by the woman hosting the workshop. Nothing. Phone icons got all big and crazy as I would try and try unsuccessfully to type. I decided not to panic. Not yet, anyway. I got off the train, headed down a flight of stairs and crossed the track, still schlepping way too much luggage, only to find out I was on the wrong side. So I trekked back up the flight of stairs, no one helping me, and kept looking for a person who might be looking for me. Only we were supposed to be communicating by phone. And mine was broken. I started to cry.
I found my way to the parking lot, spotted some shady looking dude with a beat up jalopy, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He tossed the butt, stomped on it, and called me over to him. Somewhere, in a long French sentence, I heard my name. I didn’t think this could be the driver that was arranged for me, but he was. He grabbed my extra-large suitcase, stuffing it in the back with a lot of other crap like empty beer cans. I climbed in, moved a bunch of trash off the front seat, and off we went. I tried in vain to explain that my phone wasn’t working, as I tried over and over again to text my husband, who would be worried about me. Little did I know that on the other end, he was getting garbled messages that he thought were clues as to who had kidnapped me, and spent his time trying to decipher the code.
Somehow, after a 45-minute ride from hell — including the twists and turns of the road, and the shady bar where I made a “rest” stop while my driver picked up cold beer for himself — I finally arrived at the hotel and was reunited with my husband. Phew. Saying no would have been a lot easier. But, I would have missed that great meal at Le Comptoir in Paris, and that great croissant from a patisserie. Croissants gave me the only pleasure on that long 5-hour train ride. When we finally called Apple tech support and explained the iPhone problem, the giant letters and the inability to text or call, they told us the solution was just to tap three times on the screen with the tips of our fingers. True. Who made that up? The Wizard of Oz?
Fredrica Duke shares how she discovered her love of food while growing up in Los Angeles on her blog Channeling the Food Critic in Me.