So, we began our life together again in Paris, me, Frances and the kids. Each morning I left for the office in Montrouge, while the kids took a bus to the International School of Paris (an expensive private, bilingual school with mostly embassy kids, a school that the company paid for – no way I could afford the tuition – to give you an idea, the son of the James Bond actress and singer Grace Jones was in Teresa’s class). Each evening I returned to the tiny apartment next to the RER train line, and each night we squeezed into beds too small for us all.
I continued to look forward to trips out of the country as well as to Pau in the south of France where we had a training facility.
Alberto from the writer’s group helped me get my story Surviving on Mexican Shade published in the newly revived Sorbonne-backed Paris Transcontinental literary review. It was a real treat a few months later to hear a colleague at Sedco Forex tell me that his son, attending the American School of Paris (also very expensive), was studying my story in his literature class. I believe the P. T. review made it to The International School of Paris as well, where my own kids were attending.
I sent the My Father’s Lies manuscript to an agent in the states, and he grabbed it up, promising to get it in front of the biggest publishing houses.
Look out Hemingway, here comes Else!
I was on a roll, flying high with my work and travels, with my writing and with my family once again. I decided to take each of them on a trip, to interesting places. Some one-on-one bonding time over long weekends, after our separation.
Frances and I took a trip to Morocco, driving over the Atlas mountains to the Sahara desert with my colleague and friend Noureddine. We visited Marrakesh too, where Frances bought a black leather jacket and I bought small decorated tins (I would return to Marrakesh 20 years later, to visit Noureddine and his family; by luck I also got to visit an amethyst mine).
My oldest Brenda I later took to Zermatt, Switzerland, where we skied next to the Matterhorn. Brenda whistled as we skied the highest mountains in Europe. In the cold evening, in town, we ate raclette in a rustic restaurant, a wonderful melted Gouda cheese dish.
My second oldest, Teresa, I took on a company ski trip to Les Rousses, France, and later I took her to Venice and Rome, Italy (Teresa posed as a Roman statue and we learned to eat where the locals eat. I almost lost her on the Rome metro though, as the doors closed with her inside the metro car and me outside on the quay. I yelled through the glass at her frightened face “Get off at the next stop!” I waited a few minutes for another metro to come, but the Rome metro line was not reliable, so I went outside and ran as fast as I could the mile to where my map showed the next stop to be. Luckily Teresa was waiting for me there.).
My son Oscar I took to Amsterdam (We stayed in a hippie hotel that had Easy Rider playing on the TV in the lobby, and cats climbing the rails of the narrow stairs to our room. “Why are those ladies naked?” he asked as we happened to pass a corner of the red-light district where women posed, like manikins, half-dressed in picture windows. “All their clothes are getting washed,” I told him. I stopped in front of a marijuana bar to read the menu, then we boarded a boat for a canal ride. Little Oscar was fun to travel with, but his penchant to mimic sounds did cause some awkward moments – a police siren sounded while Oscar and I were on the canal ride, a wailing haunted sound over the bridge and away – little Oscar imitated the sound, perfectly, beginning loud then fading fading fading, over and over, much to the annoyance of our fellow travelers.).
My youngest Veronica I took to Nice. (“Why are those ladies naked?” she asked me, pointing out the topless women on the beach. I did not have an answer for her then, but later I would write a story about how women in France go fishing with their breasts. I had Veronica’s hair cut short at a salon in Nice, and later caught hell from Frances for doing so.)