There were so many paths I could have taken but had no clue they were open to me. That applies to my personal life and also to what could have been my career, though it would have been a precursor to finally becoming a writer. Before I reached that point I would have liked to be an interpreter of Italian, Spanish, and/or French languages. Perhaps I would have worked in the UN building or translated films for closed captioning. I would have liked living in Europe and worked on document and letter translations. Alas, I settled for the delight in listening to foreign languages being spoken all around me when I went up to New York City wholesale district to buy jewelry for my gift shop.
I would have enjoyed owning and running an Inn, a B & B or a wee hotel with a wishing well in the mountains or a small, picturesque village. It would be a hands-on performance with personal interaction with the guests. In later years traveling through the Rocky Mountains with my second husband, we stayed in a snug motel nestled in a mountainside. It had less than 10 units, with an intimate restaurant attached that was charming. The husband and wife lived there. He was a former cross-country truck driver who now opened and cooked in the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights. We were lucky to have stopped on a Saturday. I noted to keep it in mind and return when my kids were fully grown and on their own. Life and love got in the way again. I never returned.
After I reached the mid 50s, I traveled to western North Carolina to Blowing Rock, suggested by a friend who felt I would love the town. I did. It too, had a snug motel, less than 10 units, but in the center of town, a half block off Main Street. I felt like I was staying at my aunt’s house. That’s how cozy and personal the feminine touches presented my room. The owner also lived in one of the units. These were the Blue Ridge Mountains. Real Estate in town was affordable. When I next returned a couple years later properties were sky high in price. The town was even prettier but I waited too long.
I learned some Spanish as a teen, loved the melodic sound of the words. The culture came easily when I visited my brother Albert a dozen times over the years in Puerto Rico. Visiting my son Ken in Cadiz, Spain where he was stationed in the Navy reinforced my passion for all things Spanish. I read a lot of books with a Spanish backstory and history early in my fervor for reading. My loosely-laid plan was to retire in Puerto Rico. Instead my brother Albert came to live with me in Macon, North Carolina for his last couple of years before he passed.
Learning Italian came fairly easily. I had been exposed to the culture growing up since all of my girlfriends were of Italian descent. Angelo, my fiancé was born and raised in Italy before coming to America as a 14 year old. I took classes but he refused to speak Italian at home. It would have made the language a bit smoother in my speech. Yet when we were in Italy, he left it up to me to make arrangements. Go figure. When I returned to Italy after he passed over, the language stumbled with a conversation or two. An invisible pat on my back was definite when I held a conversation at a gas station with a kindly older gentleman without struggle or difficulty. Whoo hoo! I did it!
Art always held a special place in my heart. I tried a few times to make room to develop techniques. My first husband fought any attempt I made to improve myself or expand knowledge of any kind. My mother followed the same pattern after I left him. She would not stay in the house with my kids who were by then 14, 12, 10, and 8 so I could attend classes. Again I was forced to stay home and read about artists and the art they created. When I was able to pursue art, nearing my 60s, my writing had already taken all my efforts and challenges. I wondered what my life would have been like if I had never married.
All roads led to writing. It was an early desire that never faded, but kept popping up here and there to keep the fire smoldering until I was able to pursue it, to learn the craft, then to finally share what I learned with others.
There were many times in my life when I was thankful for the stroke of luck that I made on a particular choice, turn in the road, or chose a horse to put my hard earned $2 on to win. As I got older and wiser and became aware of angels that looked after me and guides that made me aware of choices, and ancestors who whispered in my ear, I realized those times were not luck at all. They were synchronicity moments. Following my intuition had new meaning. The books that educated me were treasures.
Seeing a double, double rainbow filling the entire blue sky in International Falls on the Minnesota side of the Canadian border, was a vision to remember not for the pot of gold at the end of it but for the moment of what it was, a thing of breathtaking beauty. Seeing it was pure luck.
Early one afternoon on our return trip home, Angelo and I stopped at a K-Mart with only three cars in the large macadam parking lot. I was annoyed at him over some little thing that I don’t remember. We parted inside to look on our own. I didn’t buy anything, didn’t really look, and headed back to wait in the car when I looked up at the sky, stunned! I turned to go inside to find Angelo. He must see this, I thought. I didn’t see him anywhere. “Never can find I him when I want him,” I grumbled as I went outside to fill my eyes again where the entire sky was filled with a double, double rainbow! I had never seen such a sight and knew I would not see it again in my lifetime.
There he was! He had been inside looking for me to see this glorious sight, gave up and came out again. We marveled together, marking the moment in time to always be treasured. Surely this entire incident was a stroke of luck. The annoying slight was instantly forgotten along with the camera tucked into the luggage somewhere. Good luck only goes so far.
I’m thrilled to share this glowing review with you:
The wide-ranging destinations — and atmospheres — of this latest literary journey of Arlene Bice’s were already inviting to me as I embarked on this book. I knew from previous experience that her memoir journeys always include what attracts and fascinates me: history, culture, human nature, discovery, synchronicity and, most especially, the mysterious and mystical.
The varied experience that has shaped her life, which she has approached with an open heart, gives her the gift of observing and listening with a kind and respectful wonder. This delighted curiosity helps immerse me in scenes and imparts a wonderful sense of place that feels both real and timeless.
I savored the vicarious travel here on several continents — destinations like Ireland and Australia, the Canadian wilderness, along with the down-to-earth perspective from bus rides with the locals to the ruins of Tulum, Mexico, or the landscapes of Tahiti.