I just had the good fortune to spend a week in France – ALONE! Three days in Lyon and four in Paris. Actually, it wasn’t so much good fortune as it was a birthday gift from Carol, my wife. Some of you may think it terrible to ask your spouse to give you the gift of solitude for your birthday but since I began working on The Grey I can count on one hand the number of days that I have spent on my own in the last four years. That week solo was, quite possibly, the most luxurious thing I have ever done in my life.
I woke each morning for seven days in a row, with an agenda set only by me. I took a cup of espresso each morning and then exercised without rushing through my workout. I caught up on the news – both foreign and domestic. I read an entire book and it was almost four hundred pages long called ‘The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace.’ (On a side note it was an amazing piece of writing. A true and tragic story, as the title would indicate, that was thought provoking and elicited a full range of emotions for this young man who couldn’t find perspective or, ironically, peace). Each day I ate lunch and dinner at proper restaurants, with silverware, multiple courses and delicious breads and wine. Being in the restaurant business, you may not believe that this was rare for me but one of my greatest surprises upon entering the food and hospitality industry is that the food is for your guests and most people who work in restaurants spend the majority of their waking hours famished. I lazed away an hour here and an hour there in a café sipping coffee or wine reading silly things on the Internet. I bought myself a new tie and I went to a friend of a friend’s and had had three frozen Polish vodkas with him while he smoked cigarettes in his Parisian apartment. When was the last time you saw someone smoke a cigarette indoors? It was awesome. I walked miles upon miles each day and genuinely and truly reflected on my life and all that is wonderful in it. I took a bath. A bath for God’s sake. Who does that?
And I was able to do all of this because of this wonderful woman in my life who knew that what I would want more than anything else in celebration of another year lived was to live a week catching up on some of things I have missed the last few years. What a woman!
And what I wish for Carol and all of the women of the world on this International Women’s Day who have either never had such a luxury bestowed upon them or have not seen a free day of their own in a decade or two or three because of their never-ending commitments to jobs, kids, parents, siblings, communities and humanity is that you experience a moment of solitude and peace and contentment the likes of which I saw in that week.
I did not deserve it but all of you do.