The best thing about France was that sometimes, you could almost forget you were in France (almost). You could be driving for miles down a road and one turn, around the bend, there is something out of nowhere that leaves you breathless, reminding you that you are, indeed, in France.
I pulled off the main highway to find something to eat in Crozes Hermitage. The town was completely vacant so I kept driving. I stumbled upon this little village, Gervans, up in the hills. Everyone was closed for lunch, because, well, I guess they were home eating lunch. The air smelled of salt water, olives, and an afternoon ocean breeze. There wasn't a soul around. I drove up through the winding hills between the Spanish roof-tiled houses. The vines were everywhere and much further along than they were at home, flourished with huge, bright green leaves. There were no green lawns here, no pastures, no field untouched by grape vines or olive trees. Each house had their own lot of them.
The vines and olive trees intermingled with the village and the houses. They were all entwined as they danced up around the hills together. Everything was built into the landscape, becoming part of it. Nothing here was wiped out to make room for more houses, more construction. It all sang together in perfect harmony, as if the land was made this way, with this little village here, since the dawn of time.
Further down the highway, I stopped again trying to find a Chateau that I wanted to visit. I never did find the Chateau, but out of nowhere, around a bend, I stumbled upon a city made entirely out of stone, singing above the valley below. It was unlike anything I had ever come across. I had to stop.
Sitting there, atop the mountainous stone city that is Gordes with the wind whipping my hair around violently, the birds singing above the valley below, with a bottle of Domaine de Fondreche, Nadal. And none of this was in the plans. I am late to meet my next host and I don't care. Life at home isn't this way. We drive on autopilot, racing to our next destination, and we don't allow time for exploring, for getting lost, for discovering and having our breath taken away. Here, in this small random moment, in this small turn down side streets, I have found a beautiful peace and awe. One that could not be found on the highway, the fast track. One that would have been missed entirely, if I had not allowed myself to get lost. And it's for moments like these, that I had to come alone.
It was as if I were transported into a different time period, a different world. Walking these stone pathways around the city and up the mountain, I was someone else. I realized that I could be anyone. And I wondered who I would have been had I lived life here before the tourists. When the city was just a home like any other. Would I have wondered about the rest of the world and still longed to go explore it? Would I have skipped along these stone ways and raced friends down the hill as a child? Would I have fallen in love here and never left, raised a family?
But none of that really mattered, although I always tended to play into the dream. What mattered was that I was here now. And in this moment, this very one, everything was the way it ought to be.