I stand at the gate, waiting to check in for my flight Denver to Paris clutching my ticket and passport. I am alone this time. I have come full circle.
How different the scene when I first came to Paris with a one-way ticket in 1972. There was a large crowd at the airport. Tearful parents clinging in one last hug. My best friend Inge and I were flying together, planning to pick up her sister's VW in Germany then touring Europe with no particular itinerary or destination - au pif. I had my life's savings in traveler's checks - maybe $2000? Enough to last for three months if I was careful.
Charlie was there too. He had quit his job, liquidated his assets, and had purchased a ticket on the same flight - despite the fact that we had been divorced a few months before.
I didn't know then that I would end up staying for 6 years - back together with Charlie, giving birth to two sons.
This time I'm alone. Charlie and I divorced a second time, our sons are grown, independent. I need space to heal, to find myself, to start over.
I feel guilty leaving my mother and my siblings with the burden of caring for my invalid father. But I know I have to go . . . and I don't want to come back.
My friend Robin sends me off with a poem by John O'Donohue:
"For a New Beginning"
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, to learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
This post is dedicated to the group of women who gave me the wings to fly . . .