50 Stories, Week 26: The Conjurer

Over the course of my career, I would occasionally have to spend a week in the south of France for a conference. ‘Having’ to spend your days overlooking the Mediterranean and socializing with colleagues from around the world could be seen as a sacrifice, I imagine. Working around the clock for a solid week – sometimes even catching the sunrise – is not for the faint of heart, but it is certainly manageable when considering the views. And the wine. And the entertainment. 

But I digress. 

(This is not a story about my time in the advertising industry. Be patient, though… it’s coming. This is just a story about how I conjured a conjurer.)

One year early on in my career, I decided to spend a few days exploring Paris before taking the train down to Cannes for work. So, I left on a flight from San Francisco on June 14th, 2007, and wrote down what transpired in my journal…

“About to take off from SFO. Nervous stomach. Who puts themselves in a metal box with hundreds of other people and trusts a stranger to keep us in the air for ten hours?! Terrifying.

But I did what Peggy (my therapist) said. I wrote down all of my worries and put them into my ‘A Box’ – A for Anxiety. They are tangible things and can be put in a box. And then she said I had to leave the box at home. Which I did. Reluctantly. And so when I have a pang, an anxiety, a fear creeping up, I tell myself “Oh well, they’re in my anxiety box at home and I can’t do anything about it right now.” Which I hate. I need a distraction, something else to think about.

Oh shit. I forgot to leave a worry in the box at home. What if I get a blood clot during the flight? That’s a good one. I’ll just have to imagine that now, for many, many, many hours. 

Totally off subject – the definitely married man sitting two seats over from me is sexy. Weirdly euro sexy, like he definitely has a bit of a gut, and is wearing a baby blue sweater, with another very similar but slightly darker blue sweater wrapped around his neck. He still has a baby face. I want to talk to him. Why? I dunno. He looks NICE. Ok, cute. And harmless. Oh and he must be French, with that sweater situation happening. 

I think my cute row-mate and I scored the jackpot. We are both in the aisle seats and there are two empty seats between us. Ok, may start a conversation w/Baby Blue. Maybe he is going to be awesome, who knows?!

June 15, 2007

Baby Blue’s name is Jean-Luc Bertrand. Il est un magicien. A conjurer. He’d just come from working on his recent show. He is married with a two-year old boy and a boy who was born six days ago. Six! I couldn’t believe he was traveling so soon after the birth. We ended up talking and laughing the whole flight. He introduced me to an artist named Mika and we shared earphones to listen to his entire fun, amazing album. I’m obsessed.

Jean-Luc was funny and clumsy – at one point, we’d been sharing a few little bottles of wine and he knocked over his second glass all over one of his sweaters (thank god he had another, right?) The other passengers on either side of us were shooting us dirty looks because we were possibly being loud. He called himself a ‘normal guy.’ It is true that he lacked a chiseled body and was starting to lose his hair and was, as mentioned, crazy clumsy (one time, he thought he spilled his drink and gave a startled yelp and then realized he hadn’t) but there is nothing else ‘normal’ about him. He was open and emotional when speaking of his connection to his son. And his fear of how he was going to be able to love TWO children. How he wants to help the relationship his boys have together when he, in fact, doesn’t see or speak to his own brother. I said I thought parents can’t force sibling relationships. I shared my own family history in brief and said it’s easy to blame your parents and feel sorry for yourself – that’s a comfortable habit – but it’s not healthy. I had begun to see my siblings for who they were and who they weren’t, which was only disappointing if I wanted more from our relationships. Families! 

When we landed, he offered me a ride to my hotel in the Marais where we parted ways.

Jean-Luc was authentic and funny and happy. The only bummer was that the whole time we spent together, he never performed any magic tricks. I kind of loved hanging out with him – I guess that was cool enough. And I completely forgot to be anxious about the flight or travel in general!”

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