Saturday, August 15, 2020

Beauty is and women do...51

How, for this moment, I am happy.

I recorded something last night, yes, one minute into my birthday. It was supposed to be the post in its entirety. I am really loving doing these spoken word moments. I can choose more how to present myself, my voice, momentum. You can find it here and I hope that you will listen:

Heather, a birthday at 51

As I have said before, this experience reminds me of when I was acting, save for that these words are not make-believe, they are mine. I have nothing to hide behind, nor do I want to. And if I am writing more it is because that I hope to express that so much more was behind those random c's and d's and f's. We are not our own failures. ;) Nor our successes. ;) All around there are forces, so strong if only we pay attention.

This year, I have been searching for an interesting man, one to hold my attention and my body, one with whom I could begin to lay a foundation of trust. Someone who would not care so much about my (important) weight gain. As my dear friend L, lightly chided, "Doesn't this take up so much of your time?" I thought about it. 

Breathing hot air into a vacuum. Yes, it does, and as I have written about largely here this year, my personal isolation during the pandemic has marked me more deeply than I could have ever imagined. In blatant honesty, there have been thoughts of "Oh, I might never move beyond this." But...ah...wait...

A few days ago, one of my most benevolent guardian angels sent me a text. She thought it just might be my birthday and so coaxed me from my bed (where I was laying exhausted as work has been hard like a rock but that is another story) as there was a surprise in front of my door. A big bouquet, spiky and original, something that only someone who has paid attention could have offered. 

As it is her building, I climbed the stairs in my nightgown, bouquet in one hand, the other glissing the wooden railing, racoon-eyed with yesterday's makeup. She welcomed me and we spoke. At one point, she gently coaxed me to repeat, "I am OK, " but I only could do so with tears rolling down. Stupid, great salt tears. 

Skip to the day after and the same guardian angel. She was going to host lunch at one of my favorite houses in the world...quite a few of you would recognize it. And she invited me along to swim and eat and laugh. How could I say no?

Her two other invitées are 88 and 89 respectively. And while turnrd out to be a pre-birthday party for me, they were so kind about the fact that they had lived entire lifetimes beyond my tender age. M and A are completely authentic and my guardian angel remains a pinup. After lunch, I splashed and hid in the corner of the pool under the bougainvillea while they spoke of literature and politics, but lightly, lightly. Afterwards, we all fell into a delicious silence. "A" fell into a light doze and none of us teased her for it upon waking. 

Once home, I thanked my angel profusely, but there were still surprises in store for me. 

(I am tempted to stop here, to split this into two posts but no, that is not the point that I want to achieve, so forgive me that this is long.) 

Because, you see, I actually did have a lovely birthday on the day itself, too. 

I have mentioned previously the delicious accumulation of friends in the virtual world that have led to what I consider "real" friendships. It has taken me years to grasp and I am still unravelling it, this delicate cord, silken so strong, between women who have the courage to say, "I love you, I believe in you," even when we have not met in person. 

You do not yet know of Tanur (I give her full name as I intend to speak of her rather fabulous guest house soon here, Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus) but she is someone with whom I had an immediate connection. I  had told a few people that I was prepared to pass the day alone as I had in previous years. But wonderfully, she was free to join me for lunch at my favorite restaurant Le Violette (which I have written about often, including here). We speak so honestly together, straight to the bone, as if we had known each other for years. The lunch was astonishingly good. It truly was! And to top it off, Corinne, aka Coco (a dear friend) and her lovely assistant Sonia (whom I adore) brought out their perfect dense chocolate cake lit with a candle English...happee birzday to youuu. At the end of the song, they kissed me through their COVID masks on either side of my head. I made a very specific wish, laughed and was in Heaven. 

When I went to see what we owed, Coco seemed angry. She did that Frenchy thing where she waved her hand in the air in a flutter. "I was going to treat you to lunch but someone beat me to it!" "What do you mean, Coco?" "Bah, this woman called during the rush of the service saying she wanted to buy you lunch!" "Coco, no one knows that I am here. Even my family doesn't. I had said a couple of days ago that I was thinking about it to one person but..." Light bulb moment. She showed me the email. Someone who kept it in mind for days and called the restaurant to offer me lunch on my birthday just in case I was there. Someone who has a million things on her mind and to do list every day. Seriously. Just in typing this, those tears return. Save that this time they are not stupid, they are Love.

Tanur and I did the ritual of digging through the brilliant Collection Lambert. Oh my goodness, the Cy Twombly's. They elicit a gasp out of me every time.  It felt comforting to explore with a fellow creative. I sat on the floor of my favorite installation and for the first time...the neon lava spoke of life's vitality, far more than doom. We parted only when I needed to go because friends at work - all of whom could be my children because they are so young - collaborated to offer me a massage at a local spa. The tiny but very strong girl surprised me and I floated through the streets afterwards, a bit drunk on Zen.

Upon arriving home, I was able to connect with the Leo Trifecta, albeit separately. Yana was at dinner on her first night of a well-deserved vacation. She lives in Greece. I want to live in Greece too, although I have never been there. And yet she wanted to Zoom briefly, and her smile like fire so calm, so present told me, "Yes, you are lucky." She is SO strong. But so is Beth in Chicago; the other corner of our three and when we spoke she was absolutely radiant. I can't hide under that kind of light. 

And so I told her about what I was truly thinking. "All of these amazing women have gone out of their way to treat me with kindness and respect. They know my path, my story and yet they talk to me as equals. Why? Why is X surprising me with lunch? Why are you here?"

I still feel like such a fallen woman. An overweight "ratée" working as a receptionist in a problematic hotel - this despite what I have accomplished before. But where I am currently at is far, far from where I once was. In material means. And Beth didn't hesitate in her response. "We see YOU. We see you for who you are."


Her face was beaming as she said so, half a continent away, so how could I take it as nothing other than the truth?

I am accepted. And I feel held. Not by a man. Although I would not mind that too.

But today I light up this tender heart for these beautiful women. Exceptional women, truly. Guardian angels, successful in a way that I can't imagine in the literal sense, let me love you so. I haven't had many women friends since I have lived in France and now I have them all over the world and they are incredible. I am honored to be a part of your family. It is just that simple. Thank you for being the best gift a girl could wish for..

With the gratitude of the lava that turns the Earth, your friend lost and found,



  1. Happy Birthday, dear Heather. It sounds like an amazing and scrumptious celebration. Thank you for the audio recording. Each one of those has felt like a gift. Like you, I have hope that the next year will be less hard, more joyous than this past one for you and for us all. xxoo Judith

  2. A very, very Happy Birthday to you, Heather! I'm so happy you had such a luscious day with your girlfriends!! That's the best!!

  3. Happy Birthday/ Joyeux Anniversaire, ma belle ~ thank you for sharing that special birthday festival with us. You are so right about the truth of online friendships. I treasure ours. <3

  4. Beautiful Heather, Happy Birthday. You and I have “chatted” a bit via Instagram. It seems your birthday was lovely. Please don’t be so hard on yourself.
    I wish I had more female friends—and an intimate relationship as well. I so miss that. This year had better be better for BOTH of us. For ALL of us!

  5. Dear Queen Lioness, embrace your bounty! Love from a strong, plump Mermaid :-)

    1. This is the the most beautiful, kind, fierce offering.

  6. Heather, where do I even begin. It's not like the technology of recording our voices is anything new, in fact on Instagram, we hear a lot of voices. Those voices, many sincere, many joyous, often times don't capture my attention because they are not talking about themselves but rather a promotion in which I'm not interested.

    The app you used and how you used it opened my eyes, my ears, to your voice. Your celebration of you, in the most gentle and profound way, spoke to me. I mean that in the most timely, poignant way; I've been dealing with a hurt caused by a neighbor and I've been beating myself for feeling hurt. Your self-embrace of YOU, of your person, of the soul that you are reminded me that even in my hour of ugly, painful anger at this person, I am still important. I can write a poem to myself (as a friend suggested yesterday!) and I can reconcile with myself first. Thank you. Thank you for introducing this tool to me, for introducing yourself to us. WIshes for a better half of 2020 to you, to us all.

  7. Your women friends sound delightful and I am happy for you that you have found each other and that they love you so much. It is truly a treat to see photos of you in the blog and that you are sharing your thoughts with us once again. Happy birthday, once again. I wish you much joy in this coming near and pray the world will move towards the light even as it is physically moving into the evening of the year.

  8. HAPPY BEALTED BIRTHDAY dear Heather! I hope my Email found you on the day itself!

    Great you have spent such a lovely Birhtday at the Atelier Vîmes. A place that breathes beauty. The right place to be on your Birthday!

    And the description of all those great woman is just what I want to hear. Those octogénaires are my rolemodels!

    It is so nice to hear from you again and I know I haven't written for a long time but alas, what hard words against yourself again! You are not ratée and what is wrong with working as a receptionist at a Hotel? What is wrong with enjoying the great food of Southern France and maybe not corresponding to a problematic beauty ideal of our western society?

    You live in Southern France and earn your living. That alone is already a succesful story. I prefer a thousand times a receptionist who is a lovely person to a successful artist selling his or hers soul. I know so many artist, dancers, actors who have to earn a living in other jobs and sometimes fulltime and often exhausting jobs. Some have started as very talented artists with promising careers. But nothing of this is lost while being a receptionist or while earning your money somewhere else. The flame is still there. Be proud of who you are! I think I already wrote this sentence here and I will repeat it. Enjoy your live, your job, your curves, your beautiful friends. Because in fact you do have such beautiful people you can call your friends there in France!

    And by the way, I think you just look great and courageous and I have always admired your wonderful hair. The colour and the way you wear it is just magnifique! It's high time to tell you this now. I thought already so six years ago when I saw you in persona.

    Dear Heather I wish you "Bon Courage" and keep my fingers crossed for every aspect of your life!
    (And that someone will come along who sees your beauty, the hair, the eyes, the curves, someone who takes you as you are! Though Louise is right don't let this consume to much of your time and soul)
    All my best wishes for you! I will follow in october with 51, can you believe it?

  9. Glad you had a truly Happy Birthday for when it was, Heather! That photo of you (selfie?) looks like a Lucien Freud portrait. Maybe soon, we'll meet each other for lunch at La Violette... Fingers crossed.

  10. Happy Belated birthday Heather. I have been following your posts for a while now but seldom comment. You always write so beautifully that I find myself rereading them for their richness. Darby

  11. Happy Birthday Heather
    I hear you
    I see you
    In the light
    In the dark
    Love Bernadette

  12. My best wishes for your birthday, dont worry about your weight, its the age and the hormones, after a while will go away, if you are a little careful! Greece is awaiting you!

  13. And another thing too: Be happy you are 51! I am 68! Ha!ha!

  14. Let your inner self smile and the glow will reach the outside.


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