dreamed of Europe and my living there since I was 19 and first saw it, felt it,
loved it—even though I was on a, gasp, tour with lots of “old” people
who were probably my age now. It was the turbulent early ‘70’s with
Vietnam and Watergate, the revolution of Civil Rights for all. With its sidewalk
cafés, tapestry of history and cultures, living life in its moments instead
of rushing through them, somehow I felt at home there. It enlarged my sense of
self and view of the world, and I wanted to be a part of that orb.
Fast-forward 29 years. I’m getting my chance. Our children are in college.
They’ve begun new lives separate from us. We’ve loved our home, our
friends and family, collectively our roots. But over the last few years, something
else was becoming apparent—it was time to make a change, a need for transformation
was slowly seeping in.
We were planning what I believe now was a fated trip to France to research
Jim’s book, Chasing Matisse, which would be a quest for living life with
creativity and valuing the journey itself, Jim becoming a painter and learning
to see as one. Both of us learning to see. We knew it would be a grand adventure,
a dream come true in itself, and thought it would last a few months. It hadn’t
yet occurred that we could sell our house and not buy another one no matter where
it was—until one day in May when this riveting notion struck. If we weren’t
paying for a house here, we could stay longer there. We could go ahead and sell
it, pack up and go. This would be taking the book’s concept to its limit,
untying our boundaries, truly altering our lives with force. The first week after
the thought crossed my mind, and I was saying it out loud, euphoria bubbled through
me like a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Though it took some time to “get it,” this
was a window of opportunity. The chance and the moment had crystallized into
one, and we understood it. We made the leap.
When I tell people what we’re doing, most react like I did. First, there’s
a moment of amazement and then recognition of what it means. To be homeless--oh,
boy! It seems so well, freeing…and I’m claiming it for us. It focuses
their attention on their own liberty or lack of it and their wish to have a great
adventure or simply escape. We all have them, though it feels wrong to even admit
in case we, God forbid, act it out. Or worse, in case we don’t. Then their
eyes become opaque as a far away expression softens the lines in their faces,
and they look into their own dreams and futures. There are usually comments about
how wonderful it is and what courage we have. They’ve always wanted to
do something like that themselves…and still would if they could. I tell
them we’re going to have a website with a journal of our travels and escapades
(and they know we’ll have them), and they want the address so they can
live vicariously through us.
Now this seductive urge, the secret wish we all have is becoming a reality
for us. Chasing Matisse will carry us away to France on a planned but uncharted
voyage. The intimate scenes we see, the charming inns we stay in and food we
enjoy, all of our experiences whether foibles and epiphanies, laughing or crying
will be noted. It’s a new life. In chasing Matisse, we’ll be chasing
ourselves. You’ll be chasing yourselves as well.
Come live vicariously through us, and see what you see.