On July 3, my husband and I will head off for our annual vacation. We will come back (home) at the end of August... I will be Internet incommunicado during that time, since I allow myself a yearly detox session to keep things in perspective.
My husband and I are NOT RICH, although we definitely figure in the upper middle class, and that even though I am not contributing any butter to our spinach. (That's a French expression ; you guess what it means ?) He starts work at 7:45 every morning, and sometimes finishes around 8 :00 PM or so, but the really good deal is that he has his office at home, so that when Monsieur is waiting around for a patient to show up (he is a shrink, but affiliated with the Social Security/medical system here, so people get their consultations reimbursed for psychotherapy, not for psychoanalysis), he can just pop out his violin and play while keeping his ear somewhat tuned for the doorbell. So, long hours, but, as summer rolls around, we BOTH get really exhausted, and look forward to closing the shutters, and heading out towards the festival land of milk and honey. (Like the Avignon theater festival, more than 1000 plays all crammed into that one little town, look it up on the map. People doing theater with almost NO filthy lucre. And enjoying what they're doing.)
I don't know if we'll hit the Côte d'Azur this year (the Riviera for the uninitiated).
Ah, the beaches...
Thirty years ago when I came to France I remember the incredible liberty of TAKING MY TOP OFF, and showing my gorgeous breasts to all who wanted to see them. (They are not so gorgeous now...)
Can you imagine the liberty ? The kind of liberty that shocked and troubled Henry James in his novels. The kind of liberty that Americans don't really understand. (Most don't, at any rate...)
The liberty of not feeling ashamed about one's body.
In some secluded and rare places on the French coast, you can swim with NOTHING on.
I love it. It makes me feel like Eve before the fall...
But in recent years, fewer and fewer French women are taking their tops off.
That makes me sad, although I am an ardent defender of the right of Maghrebin women here to wear their veils.
And it's not as much fun to take your top off when your breasts are sagging, you guys.
This entire country is organized around the school year.
Businesses close during the summer. Things tend to grind to a halt.
Best not have an emergency in the summer in France. Trying to find somebody to do repairs in August is a little bit like trying to find polar bears in Antartica. You can get very frustrated.
When summer is in the air, a lot of the incredible, unbelievable stress that is eating away at French society for most of the year seems to evaporate.
For those who have filthy lucre, of course.
For the others, it can be a deadly time.