Five copies, all stashed in a box at the back of my closet, waiting to be mailed. They've moved at least six times; that I have found them, yet again, is a true wonder. I made the copies around 15 years, ago, in the supply room at UMB Bank on the Plaza, in Kansas City. Over lunch at my desk, likely steamed vegetable dumplings from Bo Lings, I read an article in Town and Country about five friends who took a hotel barge river cruise through France. Floating down the Burgundy Canal on the Fluer De Lys seemed idyllic, and completely possible; I was unmarried, without children, and working hard to be able to do things like float around in France. And so I made the copies, to send to my friends, thinking that maybe someday, possibly soon, we could take such a wonderful trip.
The articles never made it to the mail, the trip never happened. Our lives grew, jobs became careers; we became wives and mothers, architects and milliners, but not sailors. We live in three different states, the last time I was in the same room with all these women was when I got married. The idea of four days together, without agenda or distraction, is mesmerizing.
Certainly the Canal du Midi is lovely but I'd be content with a few days at the beach, or in a hotel room in Akron, Ohio. This might be the best birthday present in the world; check your mailbox ladies, it's not too late.