I travel a lot. Typically, I feel very safe. I find that most people around the world all want the same things: peace, love, freedom. I’ve traveled so much and so far now I’m good at keeping anxieties down, especially irrational ones.
That was until a recent flight back from Sweden.
There were two gentlemen boarding the plane acting very strangely and it struck me… what if they wanted to hurt the people on board. After a mild panic attack and contemplating being that girl who throws a big fuss and wants off the plane, I realized something important. The first thing that came into my head after I thought “Damn it, I’m on a plane with terrorists!” was “…and now I’ll never know what it was like to live in France.” So I made myself a promise. I said, if this is not a terrorist attack, I would live out one of my dream and spend some real time in this country I have been lusting over my entire life. Being that I’m writing this there was no ill-fated plan to bring down my plane.
And here I sit in France.
Now of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Making the decision and then obtaining a French visa were two very different things. I have never in my life gone through a more frustrating, confusing process. I didn’t give up, though there were some tears. I learned the first valuable lesson in French living- French Bureaucracy is difficult.
So what am I doing here? First, I’m living. I’m watching the sunsets. I’m picking grapes and eating them. I’m buying a warm baguette at the patisserie every morning and counting the hours by the sound of the bell tolls in town rather than on my iPhone. I wake up with the sunlight, not an alarm clock. I buy the local wine. I marvel to myself how different a lemon smells here freshly sliced and how did I not know the beautiful perfume of fresh cracked pepper before? I pet every dog in sight. I visit the markets and make notes on the minute details and differences. I’m trying new styles from my black New York uniform. I’m SLOWLY learning French. I’m taking my camera out and pointing her at this stunning place, capturing what mesmerizes me about this organic way of life.
To be honest, I needed a refresh from New York. I needed to do something new and different. Stimulate my brain in a different way. I talk about the fragility of creativity and I needed to give mine a rest. I wanted to give her the opportunity to explore new visions and new forms of idea and expression. I know what living in New York means. I wanted to know that aspect of France as well. As I have been taking the time to be present I’m already beginning to have new vision, still lives I want to create around the Provencal table. A place where things come in and out of your life with the passing seasons. A vision of women I want to capture that celebrates their natural beauty on film, un-retouched in a world of manipulation. I feel that excitement toward photography I had when I first started out at 13. When holding a camera in your hands wasn’t a job. It was an adventure. What can you capture, and what can you create…
I think everyone would assume I would have chosen Paris. I love Paris more than any other city in the world. She is my dream. But I didn’t want to just change from fancy New York parties to fancy French parties, the same kind of people, the same kind of work, and the same kind of pace to life. I wanted to really be in a different place, experience another world. I am in the south, in a very small town in Provence, a part of the Luberon. It’s quaint and it’s quiet and though small, it is somehow opening my heart and mind to a whole other world of endless ideas.
It’s not forever, but it is for now and now is right where I want to be.
Above, working from a hilltop coffee shop in the little charming town of Bonnieux.
More Provence stories here.