Wednesday, October 24, 2012

on the road to monaco.

via here. he was like 50 years younger than this guy.

mission chinese is a dark restaurant, lit up with red neon lights and music blaring, it feels like new york in the 80's. granted, when i visited new york in the 80's i was always in diapers, but still, i think it felt something like that place. we were nearing the end of our meal - not quite yet done, nibbling here and there - when a lone straggler came and sat at the bar next to us. we struck up a conversation, as one does when they sit at the bar, and in the first exchange of pleasantries came out,
"where do you live?"
"you from here?"
"what do ya do?"
we found out our new dining companion was a yacht broker in monaco, where he lived.
no biggie.
but his american accent hinted there was a good story behind this (although, for anyone, once you say you live in monaco you must have a story to tell).
we learned how he came to love sailing through his first girlfriend, whose family had a boat out on long island. how he left school far behind to learn how to sail, working his way up to captain. that the roughest waters are those between tasmania and australia. and how he left it all one day to work for an internet start-up in seattle.
he met a girl, as one often does, his ex-wife he called her.
which was when i noticed his wedding ring.
he told us about living in seattle, moving to nyc, making it big with an internet company, moving to london for his job and his wife leaving him.
sidenote: on her way out,
she got a boob job in america with their hard-earned money.
recovered at his mother's house.
at the time, her mother-in-law.
and never came back.
classy lady.
as the conversation died down, i couldn't help but pry - but what, exactly, had brought him to monaco? and how did he meet his second wife?
i was roundly called our for being observant - perhaps too observant - but marathons of criminal minds does that to a person.
he obliged, and told us of moving to the south of france, nice, actually, to study french with the one goal of becoming a yacht broker. he was told he wouldn't work - he was too brash for the types of europeans who want to buy yachts - yet after almost a decade in the business it turns out they were wrong. and when he bought a house that needed to be spruced up, a young italian girl at the architecture firm he hired caught his eye. shy, and reserved, he never said anything. about five or six years later he saw her walking down the street as he drove past, so he slowed down, and yelled...
even when repeating the story to us he seemed flustered and embarrassed - love seems to have the same effect on people everywhere, no? ("how was that the only thing i could think of?!")
he went home and wrote an e-mail to the architecture firm asking for the girl's information and who responds? the girl - who is now the head architect at the firm.
they had been married for five weeks when he sat next to us.
for all the intrigue, and romance, and travel in the story - i kept coming back to one central theme. that this man's life took so many different paths and journeys and was sidetracked so many times. i have felt in my 20's that i haven't accomplished enough at times - i didn't set out to do all the things i wanted to do, perhaps. i didn't spend enough nights at the office and i didn't dance on enough tables. i didn't get that title in front of my name at work...and i haven't gotten that title in front of my name at home either. as if it's all supposed to happen in our 20's. as if becoming a CEO and wife and mother and fashionista and girl about town is all reserved for one decade. we cross things off our to-do list, think of where our future plans will take us and - what a joke this all is! had you told that teenage boy in long island he'd be selling yachts in monaco and married to a nice italian girl one day, i feel confident he would have laughed in your face.
i'm not saying this to boohoo plans.
plans are good.
ideas are good.
desires are good.
but at the times when i feel lost, or like i'm not doing enough to further my career, or no good can ever come from the not so nice things that will befall me - i'm going to think of this captain living in monaco. we can't always see the path, and we can't predict when we get sidetracked and how many days, years or decades it will last, but there's more out there waiting for us. there always is. even in our darkest hours, new adventures are around the corner and new chapters are waiting to begin. and, if we're really lucky, they just might take place in monaco.


  1. Hands down, your best post ever. I have chills. I laughed. I got teary. I wanted to run down to your office & hug you. Excellent story from a prying, beautiful mind :)

    So much love to you. Next Week!!!

    1. oh Molly thank you. if only I could meet a sea captain every weekend!

      I really can't wait to see you - I miss you a lot and I expect to get that hug!

  2. This is beautiful, as always.

    I think we can all relate to that pressure of getting it done in our 20s. Maybe because we then make time for a family? Or start to lose our looks? But those things don't make us incomplete people. At any age, we are still 100% whole, and full of things to offer and things to desire. So, so important to remember...hope I can.

    Thanks for such a lovely story.

  3. Wonderful story! It's nice to hear about extraordinary, albeit circuitous, and happy lives. Your path doesn't have to follow everyone else's and you can stroll along at your own pace. It's a good thing to remember that I often forget.

  4. This is so perfect and something I needed to hear/read today. I often feel like "oh god I'm 30 years old and what have I done with my life?" There's so much pressure to succeed early that it's easy to forget we really do have our whole lives ahead of us. What a great reminder - life is about the journey, not the destination.

    1. i feel that same pressure - mostly from myself - and there are so many lives within our life we have yet to live. and even if we don't get to the peak that we strive for, if you play it right everything along the way should make your story a rich and very full one.

  5. You have such a gift for telling stories - I was totally caught up in this story, imaging this man in the different stages of his life, traveling around the world - and finding a second wife in Italy! I swear you meet some of the most fascinating people - and can recount their stories so impeccably. Besides an amazing story about this man that you randomly met in a Chinese restaurant, this post was good for me to read. I've been thinking this week about the things that I didn't get to do in life, and the things I'm doing but not doing well enough, etc. But you're right - it doesn't all need to come together right now, today, or two years from now. Thanks for that reminder, friend!

    1. i know - i feel so fortunate i run into so many people willing to talk to me! i beat myself up so many times for not doing enough - forgetting that i have so much left in front of me. and that the adventures that side tracked me along the way were worth the stories and richness they brought to my life, too.

  6. This is a wonderful story and thank you for sharing it with us. There's a certain amount of planning required, mainly to make us feel in control, but there's a tad bit of lovely in how everything inevitable goes to complete sh*t. Everything ends up 'ending up' though, c'est la vie

  7. As usual, I love this post. You make me want to move to NYC, just for all of the life lessons.


  8. As ever, I love these thought-provoking stories you tell and I love the fact that you are the type of person that starts up conversations with strangers and get them to share so much! I'm definitely guilty of over-planning my life and then despair when they don't go to plan, I needed this reminder that life happens while you are making other plans!

  9. I love this story! I can't believe that guy randomly saw that girl again walking along the street after months! That's crazy! It's like a modern-day fairytale! I also love how astute you were and that you asked the questions that really made the story! Thanks for sharing this as a reminder to us!


    Erin @

  10. Oh.

    What a story. And my how you tell it so well! I love your perspective on it. It so important to remember that we have a whole life time to LIVE. We can take our time and enjoy the ride and do some things we plan and lots of other things we don't. And all of it, ALL OF IT, is normal and okay.

    Thanks for reminding me, Colleen.

    You have such a great outlook on life. I always love your blog posts like this one-- they are so reassuring and humbling. I'm so glad I've met you and I'm so glad you are my friend. :)


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