I introduce her as “mi amiga de Francia” (my friend from France), but she is so much more than that. Marie-Laure, who is visiting me here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and I have been friends for forty-four years; and I feel she’s given me the world. Or at least opened doors and windows to it I would not have accessed otherwise.
On a recent walk down the street where I now live, we tried to calculate the many places in the world where we’ve traveled together over the years.
To begin with: We met in the summer of 1972, when I was twenty-seven and she twenty-four, on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, on a tennis court. She and her then-boyfriend had only one racket between them, and I had two. Our lasting friendship grew from that brief loan.
From there, she visited me in NYC many times and once in Taos. I stayed at her small flat in Paris’s 16th Arrondissement nearly a dozen times and then in her house in the Paris suburbs, which she inherited when her mom died. During various summers (she is a retired teacher), we did the wine route down the center of France together, traveled around Scotland together, and visited the South of France, Monaco, and Greece together. She even visited me in Mali, West Africa, when I lived there.
Marie-Laure taught me how to travel: How to pack (lightly), how to keep one’s eyes and mind open to the newness of it all, how to appreciate the world’s diversity and the oneness of the human family.
She is out now, wandering around San Miguel by herself, totally happy to take it all in on her own. So I am free to write this post quietly before she returns. There are a million memories of our travels I could share, but I’ll focus on the NOW now. Here are just a few photos to better acquaint you with mi amiga de Francia:
In a recent blog post I wrote about old and new friendships — gold and silver. This friendship is pure gold, and I’m ineffably grateful for her visit.