Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Oh 2018, What a Year you Were.

Morocco 2018
Well well well.  2018 is finally over.  It's been a while since we've talked, and a lot has happened in that time. Some people might even refer to what happened to me this year as "their whole life falling apart," but I prefer not to look at it that way.  Although I did find out that my husband of sixteen years had been carrying on an expensive and elaborate affair for the last two of those years, I was also presented with the opportunity to embark on an independent life of my own, forming and strengthening other relationships in the process.  I learned that I had a good life regardless of  my marriage, and will continue to have a good life without it.  Sure, it's  never fun to learn that your most trusted friend and confidante has betrayed you to the extent of destroying the family unit you once shared, but life is an adventure and you never know what is around the next corner.  The silver lining is freedom, which I now have in spades, and - at least for now - we all have all of our fingers and toes.  It sucks, but I'll take it.
Ladycation Mallorca
It all started in April when I went on a spectacular "ladycation" to Spain and Morocco.  The first week was spent in Mallorca at Son Rullan - a finca (farm) on the olive grove laden slopes of the island with a group of close girlfriends.  At the time I was blissfully unaware that my husband had flown his girlfriend out to San Diego from New Orleans for an elaborate ten day trip to Mexico and Joshua Tree, which included numerous culinary hot spots in the Valle and a concert I would have very much liked to see.  The point of the ladies' trip was to reconnect and have some leisure time, and we certainly achieved that goal - sitting around the table pictured below every evening with wine while our private chef prepared dinners for us.  The occasion of the trip was a friend's 40th birthday, and it was a wonderful, relaxed way to celebrate.  I also did a few days in Barcelona on the front side, which was marred by the fact that it rained throughout my visit - something I'm told is a little unusual there. I didn't have a chance to do a lot of eating there - my only truly good meal was a lunch at the Mercato Santa Caterina.  I did go on a tour of Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia, which were spectacular.  I'm sure when the city is at it's best it's a lovely place to visit, but the constant drizzle was a bit of a downer.
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After a week in Mallorca, I went back to Barcelona and met up with another friend to fly to Morocco for a week long tour through G Adventures.   The tour was a whirlwind at only a week, but we managed to see the spectacular Roman ruins at Volubilis, the city of Fes and its chaotic and fascinating Medina and ride camels into the Sahara desert for a night in the dunes (pictured up top).  We did a night in the Todra Gorge, a night at Ait Ben Haddou - a famous village which is in a zillion movies, and one night in Marrakech before our own two night stay there for some fantastic shopping. G Adventures was easy to deal with. The places we stayed were not great, but for the price it's hard to complain. We had an outstanding guide who also has his own tour company called Moroccan Gates. If you are looking to put a trip together they can customize one to do anything you want, while G is of course much more limited.
Morocco & Spain 2018
In Marrakech we stayed at the beautiful Riad Jardin Secret located in the medina, and wandered around the souks bargaining & shopping for straw bags, babouche slippers and spices. We also visited a few reputable and expensive shops with beautiful things for fixed prices. Not surprisingly and like anywhere else, you get what you pay for.  Much is made of the "bargaining culture" of Morocco, but with few exceptions, if you are a tourist, you will pay a tourist price.  Some people were very upset to find out they "overpaid" for an item, but I came to look at it as a tax I was willing to pay. The most important thing to know about bargaining is that once you start negotiating, you're likely going to buy the item, and you're going to pay the last price you offer.  If you ask how much something is and make an offer, the game is on. As soon as you walk away, they'll sell it to you for the last price you offered or close to it.  If you don't want to deal with it, don't make an offer.  We made friends with our guide and he had some free time in Marrakech after the tour - so he generously offered to help us find some places on a list of shops and sources I had compiled.  We visited a women's collective that hand-embroiders linen goods, some interior shops selling poufs, rugs and housewares, a lovely minimalist boutique selling high quality pillows, babouches and dishware, a beautiful leather goods and bedding/linen designer and had tunics custom made to measure in only 24 hours.  I'll share a list of sources soon.
Morocco 2018
Now this, dear reader, is the point in the story where I admit to you that I am little more than a walking cliche. As we made our way through the weeklong tour, I found myself developing a curious little crush on our guide.  This happens all the time of course.  On a trip like this, the guide is your hero. He speaks the languages you don't speak, he knows the things you don't know, he takes you to  the places you've never been.  It's like a week long date without the romance.  Try not to judge me for what I say next, but happily married as I (thought I) was, for the first time in sixteen years I found myself hopping out of my comfort zone and onto the back of his Vespa, which whisked me off for an adventure of another kind. The novel-length version of this story would include details like the fact that my husband and I had discussed the possibility of opening our relationship, that I was aware of his affair to a minimal extent and had his express permission to indulge in something like this if the opportunity presented itself - but I would never have believed you if you told me that it would.  We'll stick to the short version here, which is that as crazy as it sounds, after I returned home and told him about it, my husband gave me permission to see him again.
Iceland 2018
We met up in Iceland, land of waterfalls, geysers, seafood and weird little birds called puffins, and lots of rain the week we were there.  After we made our plan but before the trip, my husband dropped - as casually as he could muster - that he wanted to make travel plans of his own to meet up with his girlfriend later in the summer.  I knew this person existed, I had even teased him about the fact that she was his girlfriend, but he had never admitted it until now.  It was quite an exciting moment.  Then I had some time to think, and realized that he had been lying to me.  A lot and for a very long time.  Over the course of the next few weeks it unfolded, slowly and painfully, that he had been seeing this person for two years - the last year and a half of which were a frenzy of romantic getaways, expensive dinners, gifts and visits to - you guessed it, New Orleans. He flew her out here and took her to Joshua Tree and the Valle, Santa Barbara, and Catalina (on a helicopter, no less).  He bought her an Hermes scarf for her birthday - knowing I have a thing for them. He bought her $400 worth of my favorite brand of chocolates - sometimes ordering for us at the same time.  There was more.  Much, much more.  It was shocking - but nothing topped the realization, based on the way the charges to his business credit cards and the dates lined up, that he had brought his girlfriend to our home and slept with her in our bed for three nights while I had been gone just a few weeks before.
Death Valley Roadtrip 11/18
Before Iceland I rented an apartment.  After Iceland, I moved into it.  To his credit, my Moroccan friend did not simply side-step the mess and leave me to deal with the baggage accumulating right before his eyes. Instead, he was kind enough to call me every day and listen to my anguished complaints - once offering the sweet advice, however unrealistic, to try not to think about it very much.  He's still around, actually.  He visited me for a few weeks last month, when we took a road trip to Death Valley & Joshua Tree, and we have plans to meet again in March. He may even come and spend more time here in the summer.  In the meantime, I have plenty of space to hack my way through the unfinished business of my separation and looming divorce, which is exactly as it should be.
Death Valley Roadtrip 11/18
Anyone who has been through a crisis like this knows it's not a simple matter. There is no linear recovery from losing your family unit and most significant relationship in one fell swoop.  In some ways, moving on has been surprisingly easy, and other ways just as difficult as you would expect.  One silver lining is that my friends have really shown up for me, and my relationships with several of them have deepened as a result.  I was also lucky enough to have the resources to find and rent a lovely apartment of my own, which has been a wonderful sanctuary in the past five months.
apartment
I'd like to say that I plan to use some of my new found free time to start blogging again.  I really wish I could.  If there is one thing I miss it's this - sharing where I've been and what I've been up to with this community.  I still post on Instagram quite a bit and there are still a few blog posts I've been meaning to put up (including a New Orleans digest - can't let one bad apple spoil the whole city after all!) so  I'll try to get those up at least.

May 2019 bring you peace and happiness, or failing that, more time for Netflix, travel, good chocolate and legal weed.  Cheers to more adventures, love and laughter in the year to come and beyond.



4 comments:

  1. Oh Alice, you've weathered this transition with grace and I'm so proud of you. I hope putting pen to paper was cathartic. These photos are a balm for my snow-laden eyes! Son Rullan take me away....can't wait for our next adventure and cheers to your 2019. xx

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  2. I found this blog through a mutual friend who knows that I’m going through a similar circumstance. Your story is inspirational and it’s great that you’ve found a way to turn the heartbreak into something more positive and hopeful. Sadly, im not there yet. Kudos to you for your strength and courage to forge ahead independently instead of wallowing in your sorrow - my daily ritual thus far. I can only hope that someday I will have the clarity to make the right decisions going forward.

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  3. Brave, honest and beautifully written as always. Sorry it happened this way, happy for the things that are looking up and in respect of the positive attitude. What doesn't kill you - only makes you stronger! Good luck in your persistence.

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  4. Elizabeth more or less said what I was going to say! You have been on quite a ride and have really dealt with everything so impressively. I'm happy that we got to spend more time together in 2018 and look forward to our next ladycation. xx

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