my mom and i went and bought books for my trip. i got a culture shock edition for france which i read all of last night. she insisted i get a moveable feast by hemingway since it is like the quintessential expatriate french novel. i also got delta of venus by anais nin since she is a french author, and a close friend claimed i would love her(he thinks he is henry miller). that girl has a dirty mouth! it’s good though, i must admit. as of friday i will know when and where i get into paris, and i am so excited i can’t even sleep. i think all day of red wine and baguettes, cheese and the louvre. we probably won’t spend that much time in paris other than to do the touristy things like see the eiffel tower and jim morrison’s grave. the town i will be living in is in the north, right on the english channel. evidently it is only a three hour train ride from paris to london via the metro that runs under the english channel. i am going to make the most of this trip in case it is my only chance at europe! i have friends in germany we will see, and brugge is on my list after watching the colin farrel movie in brugge which is destined to become a cult classic. and of course the netherlands. i am a florist so the dutch have a special place in my heart. too bad the tulips won’t be in bloom. i learned a lot from the culture book, and i think i am going to fit in well with the french sensibilities. i’m sure my language will improve after a few weeks, but more than anything i am looking at this as a new lease on life. tragedy has been around every corner, and i think this is the universe’s way of telling me it’s ok, everything will be fine now. i know this so far hasn’t been a travelogue but it will be. i just thought a diary while preparing would be interesting to start with. i have my host gifts already packaged, my passport in a safe place, and have washed all my clothes. leaving philadelphia is going to be a great change. i’ve left before(and am not a native)but this time it feels different. i will still be win, but i will be an adult win travelling europe with eager yet experienced eyes. i can see the beach in my mind in the town of berck-sur-mer. walking along the channel, imagining a world i will no longer be a part of. a world where i leave a deceased husband, abusive boyfriends, and streets i cannot walk down without some sort of shell shock. i know i must return, but perhaps i will come back a new person who isn’t as haunted and who’s skeletons don’t feel like dancing any longer. i am alive again for the first time in years. my soul is awakened to what the meaning of life might be. the little prince tattooed on my shoulder is guiding my way. and as he says, “if you love a rose that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night.” well i love a flower who lives on a star, and he is telling me to blossom. the time has come to put away my thorns, and cultivate my dreams.