My good friend Claire Oldman chronicles a couple of our evenings in her new diary at British Harper's Bazaar about swapping locales for a month. It's entitled "The Best Thing About London is Paris," after one of Diana Vreeland's immortal quips.
Late last night I returned from two weeks in Europe, during which I accompanied my publicity client, Stephanie LaCava, on her book tour for An Extraordinary Theory of Objects. It was a special and enchanting trip, in myriad ways, filled with laughter and care. In London, snowbound and cold, I spent hours with friends and curled up in front of a coal fire –– in a meditation on luxury in her memoir, Counting My Chickens, the Duchess of Devonshire observes, "If you've never dressed in front of a coal fire you don't know what luxury is," and I have learned that she's right. A friend booked me a massage at his hotel after we had breakfast upon my arrival, a fine cure for jetlag. Dancing the night away at Loulou's, and reading for hours of pleasure in my cozy bedroom, was another unexpected delight. In Paris, a friend put me on the list for an event in support of gay marriage. The debate, which seemed to feature every one of the country's premier intellectuals (and, in the audience, the first lady), included Juliette Gréco singing a Jacques Brel chanson that ended with her hands folded over her face, fingertips set to flutter like two of Nabokov's butterflies. I worked, and set up meetings, and attended events, and was occupied with the purpose of the trip, as well as keeping up with other projects, and yet, the other time was mine, and spent as it should be. As I wrote in reply to an old flame, Glad you're surfing again. I think of the walk, often, from your backsteps down to the ocean and into the waves as one of life's perfect wholly-contained beauties. Paris is lovely this time. I like myself here. I don't wear make-up, and I sleep in, and my hair is growing out, and I sit around drinking tea, and meeting friends in cafes and walking everywhere. It asks nothing of me that New York does, and it's wonderful. Now I'm back at home, enjoying a lovely Sunday after breakfast and several rounds of coffee with my sister and her beau, as I held court on our long, low, celadon silk-covered couches, clad in cream peignoir and fresh pearls, and the mood of delicate, introspective reverie that has characterized the year thus far remains. I've been engrossed in the copy of Giant I picked up at Shakespeare & Company, a memento of a magical evening, especially the gathering up above the shop, my favorite women, new friends and old, chic, warm. Noted, from the novel, "I love old silver and Maryland crabs and plenty of hot water day and night with bath salts, and one glass of very cold very dry champagne." A month here, and then I'm off to Texas to visit my brother and see some of the state, our first trip since that summer in Stockholm a few years ago. I wrote today, with regard to our plans for Marfa: How adventurous are you feeling?
So then, after the magical evening I expected, I went to a place I often go, enjoyed a bit of bubbly with the owner, was told my tab was on the house, found a box of chocolate mice with ribbon tails in my purse –– a delicious gift, and came home to a care package containing Lord Berners' The Château de Résenlieu (sent by the publisher, with whom I enjoyed ice cream sundaes in the basement grill of his storied club, named in homage to Tennyson, yesterday, while he regaled me with personal tales of the family behind Brideshead Revisited). Who could ask for anything more?
While I didn't take any time off over the holidays, there was a silver lining. I posted something about reading Rosamond Bernier's Some of My Lives as a substitute for joining friends in Mexico, and a mutual friend is taking me to meet her tonight. I have been beside myself for days, although I've settled on a white sheath with a white coat (by Cozbi) and a grey stole, and the rings I had made in homage to Edith Sitwell, by the publisher of New Directions. I had hoped to gin up some suitable adventures by now but the only notable thing is that I ate escargots for the first time the other night at Balthazar. The man who persuaded me will likely win the Pulitzer for his next novel, but it's not out yet. A small tale, for now, but one I suspect will get better with age.