|Lucy overlooking le Pont D'Avignon|
LUCY BURDETTE: Okay, last mention of my vacation, and then I promise I'm done. Just about forty years ago (I know, how is that even possible?), I took off for a junior year semester in France. As my college wasn't encouraging study abroad, I tagged on to a program with Macalester College. We reached Paris in time for New Year's eve and I spent that night celebrating with total strangers eating strange things (my first ever raw oysters!) and speaking a foreign language. I was instantly homesick.
After a month in that city, we transferred to Avignon, in the south of France, for four months. Sad to say, these are not happy memories. Along with a buddy, I was placed with an Italian family who had two small girls in a very small apartment well out of the city. As our stay evolved, they became more unhappy with us--we took too many showers, we ate too much breakfast, we used too much toilet paper, we did too much laundry. Fortunately, my roommate had met a lovely French family in church. They began cooking for the two of us every Sunday. After multiple courses, we hurtled around the countryside, the American girls in the backseat and the Cassans in the front, him smoking a stogie and describing the sights. They were utterly lovely and truly saved us from wretchedness.
|Girls take Gourdes, France|
So now, back to the present. As part of our October vacation, I visited Provence with my older sister and our two husbands. We had four strenuous but exhilarating days touring the gorgeous countryside and picture-perfect small towns on bikes. My husband and I took one last night to revisit Avignon. It was a do-over of sorts, and a wonderful trip. But whenever I think of that semester, I think of how shy and homesick I was, and how much more I could have done with the time, had I been able to push myself to embrace the adventure.
There are other points in my life that I wish I could do over, and probably many things I learned along the way. And it makes me smile to think that I've given my character Hayley Snow the gumption to make the most of a difficult situation that I lacked back in college. But I'll stop there and ask: Is there a moment you wish you could do over?
RHYS BOWEN: I see my whole life as an echo of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, Lucy. I don't have any major regrets but I have found myself wondering from time to time what would have happened if.... For example when I was in my teens I was at a professional drama school. (One of my classmates was Jane Asher). I was offered a great part in a BBC drama BUT rehearsals started the same day as my final exams at school. My parents wanted me to go to university. Final exams mattered. So I turned down the part and left drama school soon afterwards. But I've found myself thinking What if I'd taken it and gone on to an acting career. What if I'd stayed with the BBC in London instead of accepting the job in Australia? What if I'd stayed in Australia instead of marrying John?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I have a do-over a bit like yours, Lucy. When I was first married to my Scottish ex-husband, we lived in Edinburgh. I loved the city, and the people. But we had very little money, I had no friends, and it was too bloody cold in our flat to stay inside most days. I couldn't get a work permit, so my days were long and quite empty. I bought cheap bus tickets and just rode around the city to keep warm, or saved up for a cup of tea in the cafe at the Botanical Gardens. I suppose all that time to look at things and think went into the imaginative hopper, but once JK Rowling published the first Harry Potter book and told her story, I couldn't help but think, "What if I'd kept warm in coffee shops instead of buses, and started a novel???" (It would be ten years before I attempted my first book.) I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't have been as successful as JKR, but... what if?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. I was a terrible student in college, but it made me what I am. Two ridiculous marriages-- but I learned about marriage and love and respect and would do it all just the same way. NO regrets, not one. On big stuff.
On little stuff? sure. The other day in a radio interview, the host said--okay, Hank, in 30 seconds, pitch your book. HOW MANY TIMES have I done that? I flubbed, so ridiculously. (Jonathan insists I didn't. But I can think of all the things I should have said, but didn't.) I dearly wish for a do over on that one, and have thought about it WAY too many times. And last night at the library, a woman asked me what to do write her first her book. I regret I told her--find your story and tell it. Sit at your computer--and type chapter one. And go from there. I should have been more--loving.
And Debs and Rhys and Lucy--you are both wonderful. Now. Because of the decisions you made.
LUCY: And we all see you, Hank, as one of the most generous writers around!
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I agree with Hank — everything you go through, the mistakes you make, make you who you are.
I think my only regret is looking back is at the times in my life when I tried to live my life to please other people. There's just no winning at that game. But is that a lesson I needed to bungle until I figured it out? Maybe I just have a thick head and it took a while to sink in!
HALLIE EPHRON: Ah, this is giving me a Peggy Sue moment. High school. Would love to do over (not all of it, maybe just a few days) knowing what I know now.
I also wish I'd asked my mother more questions about what she was thinking, and what it was like growing up the way she did, what it was like when she had her first child.... Wish I'd gotten to my uncle (her brother) before he died to ask him what she was like as a child. But I wasn't curious until it was too late.
LUCY: I so relate to that Hallie, as my mother died too young as well. Okay, your turn, Red readers. Would you do anything over if you had the chance?
And PS, we are doing something different next week, talking about what we're working on--we think you'll enjoy it!