Chocolat Under the Tuscan Sun

Life is a kaleidoscope of feelings: it is pain and death, birth and life. Because the cosmic implications of these things are way above my head, I would rather contemplate my own daydreams.

When I was young I always daydreamed of living in a big house. Living at home with three brothers, then in a little apartment of my own, I fantasized about living in a house rich in history, complete with sculptured gardens, fountains and shaded verandas. The where of the house never quite crystallized; it always existed in that nebulous place half way down some winding, deserted road, picket fences guiding the way, stone lions at the gate — all that.

Time slipped along, and, seeing as I didn’t become an actress or a rock star, there was no easy way to obtain said  mansion with sculpted gardens, fountains and shaded verandas. It didn’t seem to matter, though, once I got married. Children came into my life; changing diapers and trips to the park were more important than parlors with fireplaces and crystal chandeliers. Practicality seeped into my daydreams. Suddenly having a house with a washer and dryer on the same floor or a fenced-in back yard made much more sense than twenty bedrooms to clean.

Eventually my little children turned into teenagers, and my daydreams evolved into finding ways to keep one step ahead of them. I couldn’t let my personal plans take me too far away — after all, how could I play the slots in Vegas when my kid would be throwing some video game/poker game/who-knows-what-we-can-get-away-with game I’m sure he’d throw given half a chance?

Now that one son is married and the other in college, I have finally let my daydreams take on a more surrealistic tint. Escapism is now more enjoyable than ever before. None of this taking off to the Dells or locally-based casinos — now my fantasies are more like Under the Tuscan Sun or Chocolat.

            Take my first daydream: Tuscany. I want to take a bus trip down Italy’s back roads and just hop off at some wonderfully enchanting town and find a charming place to live and settle down. I want to work from home (writing or editing or something that makes a lot of money from my own living room). I would like to be thin as a rail and meet some exotic Italian and ride off in a Ferrari to his vineyard in the country.

            Or how about a different daydream? I could always be whisked off to some quaint little town in France. I would blow into a town on the spring breeze and make a living doing something creative — say, making chocolate. Or, since that idea has already been used, perhaps I could open a shop that sells oatmeal raisin cookies. I’d wander through this quiet gem off the beaten path, taste the local cuisine and throw simple gourmet parties with skill and grace. I would be thin as a rail and meet some exotic Irish pirate and ride off to his pirate cove off the ocean.

            Both of these video women slipped into their new world carrying only one suitcase. They looked absolutely divine in whatever they wore, laughed and bonded with the locals, and made a difference in their little town. They had no husbands or pets, no costumes to sew or dog poop to scoop. If children were part of their scenario, they were precocious and well mannered and never experimented with drugs or peanut butter on the roof of the dog’s mouth. They had an invisible source of income (enough to either buy a dilapidated house or a run-down building) and turn it into something beautiful and homey, and most likely never had a second mortgage piled atop the first one. These beauties didn’t have to punch a time clock or find clean underwear for everyone or make room in their basement for more hunting and fishing gear.

I know, I know — they also had to make it alone through their world. They didn’t have that magical bond that ripens through the years, nor the love of family, nor friends who knew and cared about them for years.  Their new roots would never have enough time to dig in very far, and they’d never get a chance to go back to ‘the old neighborhood’. Their choices were made from circumstances I will never know, and their futures would be fruit born on the branches of a totally different tree.

The great thing now, though, is that I don’t really have to leave home to escape. Dreams, like movies, can be created at a moment’s notice. I can include family and friends in my escapades, or keep them separate through my writing. There’s no reason why I can’t create Tuscan or Athens or even the Great North Woods right here on my little patch of land. Food, music, good times, all can be a part of any reality I choose. All I have to do is play. I can play Italian music and put a bottle of Lambrusco on the table, or hang Japanese lanterns and put a movie like Ran or Shogun on in the background and use chopsticks for my homemade stir-fry.  I can have everyone dress in togas or play polkas to go with my polish sausage and sauerkraut. I don’t need an occasion — I don’t need an invitation.   

Happily ever after doesn’t only exist in the movies. The possibility exists every time we wake up, every time we turn around.

Don’t let your hang-ups of what others have or do or where they go stop you from planning your own escape, even if it’s for an hour or an evening. My glass from Goodwill can be fine Italian crystal and my basket from last year’s Easter can hold the most fragrant of delights. No one will know, and, if you are creative enough, no one will care. They will play right along side of you.

I’ll tell you, though … I wouldn’t mind going for a ride in that Ferrari now and then …


2 thoughts on “Chocolat Under the Tuscan Sun

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