My photos are faded now. But my memories are fresh. I am not single. Nor have I been married. I have a ring but it is not a wedding band. Let me explain.
Two wild things, two wanderers recognized something in the other and fell head over heels in love. They enmeshed their disparate lives by creating a team as a travel writer and photographer. And discovered the world and each other...together. Wherever they were, that was where home was.
And so my companion Remi Benali and I found ourselves on Bora Bora in February 2005. It was our most glamorous assignment so far, covering Bora Bora Cruises slow circle of the Leeward Islands for the French travel magazine Hotel & Lodge. We swam amidst the sharks only to find that a floating champagne bar had magically appeared when we came up for air. We were giddy with good fortune, dumb-founded by our luck. But it is also harder work than one outside of the métier can understand and we took it so. We didn't see the time passing but felt it brushing past our skin.
One evening, just as the sun was tipping its hat in farewell, I could hear Remi's gentle pad behind me as I gazed out onto the swirling sea. I turned and saw he held a jewelry box in his hand. My heart started to pound and I searched his gaze. Was this...? Would he...? No, no, not exactly. Inside the box, was the most beautiful pearl, one that glimmered green like the waves below me on one side and glowed pink like my heart on the other. A feeling, a moment, solidified into a tangible thing. It is a commitment ring. A promise was made with it and it has been kept. It is the most precious object I own.
Five months and much paperwork later, we made that promise legal by making a PACs or a Pacte Civil de Solidarité in the Town Hall, an exceptional option here in France. Solidarity. To stand by each other, to promise to take care of the other. It is so right for our couple, who have been through so much after having previously been so independent. I wore a white Margiela jacket and we stole a quick kiss as the notary wished us congratulations. But that was it. No champagne, no cake smushed in faces. We rushed back to our tiny apartment and started packing our bags for an especially challenging assignment in Tibet. We left before dawn the next morning. There was no time for ruminating high in the Himalayas but what we saw imprinted us strongly, with weight. And fifteen minutes after our return to Paris, Remi found an internet ad for a house that would finally take us to Arles, the city that had called to us. In Provence.
In Tibet. ©Remi Benali
All of this doesn't mean that I don't have my moments of rêverie. I honestly have no idea if we will ever tie the knot as our being together is still an active, not a given choice, but if we do, I know exactly where I would like us to go to do so--back to Bali. We have been twice on assignments and it is magical for both Remi and I. We have roamed the island and been intoxicated by its romance. We could have a simple ceremony on the beach with just our immediate family at our sides. We could be barefoot in the sand with the waves as music. I would charm Remi into wearing his sarong (he is even more masculin in one)...
...and I would don my favorite champagne silk bias gown with matching vintage pearls.
And of course, the pearl of Bora Bora.
And although our lives have taken another turn, our existence is now quite simple and our travelling days are perhaps over, for the past eleven years I have been with an incredible man. Finally, all of our voyages together were our lune de miel. For yes, we did dine by candlelight in the garden and spread the rose petals out with our toes the evening that I took the above photo along with too many memories to mention. Today, I run my finger over the pearls surface and remember that I don't need any more than all I already have.
I never dreamed of being married, not even when I was a young girl. I don't know why, my parents certainly gave me a wonderful, lasting example. But I did hope, for so long, that one day I would meet a man that I would love and respect, who would feel the same for me. Who would appreciate me for who I am and vice versa. That we could build a life together in trust. A wedding then of heart, mind and spirit.
I feel very fortunate.
For those of you that are visiting for the first time, I really want to extend a warm bienvenue. And for my wonderful readers and friends, please take a moment if you can to visit some of the other posts. You will be able to find them all at Splenderosa. How wonderful to explore and dream!