I finally got to Europe. Just in time as it turns out. Much can be lost in translation but I was hugely relieved to make it over in time to disabuse a charming young Frenchman of his line of query involving whether I'd been a wife of Salvador Dali's.
"Uh. No," I said, which are the same words or at least sufficiently similar sounds to apparently mean pretty much the exact same thing in all languages. "No," I said. I might have said it three times. What I thought was, thank god I got over here in time to clear that up. I'd made the right decision after all.
The decision was to solo Europe. I should have gone in the 70s with the rest of the boomers whom I'd always supposed had gone, smoked hash, met the Beatles and returned home to lucrative writing careers with Rolling Stone. But I stayed timidly home. Nor did I go in the 80s when, actually, I really should have gone. That was the decade I spent catching up on so many other things I'd missed in the 70s. The Divorced Years, by any other name. It didn't feel right to go alone. Shouldn't Europe be a honeymoon kind of place, or something? By the 90s, well, by then there were so many reasons not to go and having never been no confidence to bundle up a family of Americans into the unknowns of language, custom and passports.
Suddenly it's a good decade into serious middle age, a daughter spurs me into a ticket across the Atlantic, but then I was alone. And finally I come up with the motivating response: If not now, never.
Just Say Yes, is my new motto. And carry extra underwear. Everything else is exactly like you've always been told: half the clothes and twice the money. Remarkably, at the advanced age of a wife of Salvador Dali, the axiom works perfectly.