Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Passion for Adventure

Have you ever been a distant admirer of someone; a kind of secret fan? Have you ever been given a chance to know them; even just a little? If you have, you'll know how I feel about my guest today. Delighted and slightly giddy. Please welcome Tara Bradford of Paris Parfait. ~ Relyn

"All my life, I've tried to avoid becoming a bird in a golden cage."

When Relyn graciously asked me to participate in her fireside chats, she said, "I know you have many passions; please just choose one." Since then, I've thought hard about what passions have really informed my life. Collecting is an obvious one; in the last nine years, I have acquired many beautiful, rare, valuable antiques and collectibles. But that's probably to compensate for the years I was constantly in motion; for all the things lost along the way.

My favorite, lifelong can't-live-without passion is collecting friends and adventures. And except for the costs of travel, they're free. I have been fortunate to have many intriguing adventures and fateful encounters. Some adventures were joyful and wonderful; others heartbreaking and angst-ridden.

I could tell you about being with a friend and my then two-year-old daughter, enjoying a picnic in a lemon grove on a mountain in Jordan, when some rather menacing-looking men with daggers at their belts helped themselves to our food. Or having tea in the desert in a Bedouin encampment, where the hosts were determined to kill a goat in my honor. Or informal lunches at the Royal Palace.

I could tell you about visits to the Dead Sea, where Muslim women wearing long dresses were floating on the salty surface. And huge areas of the countryside were marked with danger signs, because maps to landmines planted in previous wars are lost.

"Freedom is the most important part of adventure."

I could tell you about Palestinian refugee camps, where children innocently played alongside streams of raw sewage. Or the schools with no heating and hard wooden benches for desks, but eager-to-learn children could speak two or three languages. They knew education was the only way out of their situation.

I could tell you about the famous leaders and politicians that I came to know personally; about the ones who "disappeared" or were assassinated. I could tell you about the compassionate future
Nobel Prize winner who took care of me when I was sick. I could tell you about being questioned by the Muhabarrat (secret police) for hours. I could tell you about my once-fianceƩ, who was murdered.

I could tell you about the times I was harassed at
Middle East airports, because I was a single woman traveling on her own. Or the time in Kuwait, when I couldn't read Arabic and wearing a dress and heels, almost entered a small mosque, by mistake. Thankfully, a woman wearing a veil shouted at me and waved her hands, motioning not to enter.

I could tell you about the times I got on a plane headed West and sighed with relief, thanking my lucky stars I could leave a region rife with conflict. I could tell you about flying to
London for rest and recuperation, only to be evacuated in a bomb scare at the hotel. Or the crooked magazine editor, who blatantly lied to the publisher, making my article too dangerous to publish and my position untenable.

Birds and golden cages photos at Selfridge's, London.

I could describe the magical moonlight on a balcony overlooking the Nile, wondering if I'd ever find lasting love. And returning to Amman, only to be summoned to the US Embassy, for a slap on the wrist over an article I'd written criticizing the administration's failure to address the root causes of terrorism.

I could tell you about long, sleepless nights at the
United Nations, waiting for important decisions. I could tell you about interviews and friendships with people from all walks of life, from kings and presidents to paupers and a reformed jewel thief. Or complimentary stays at luxury hotels and restaurant meals with $300 bottles of wine, while worrying how I'd pay my rent. I could tell you about the kindness of strangers. Or about hours stuck in a darkroom with a creepy Texas publisher, while trying to salvage a front-page photo.

"All that glitters is not gold."

I could regale you with stories about dancing in New York clubs with Tommy Tomasi from Brooklyn, the best dancer I've ever met. Or dancing on the table at the Copacabana. Or being invited by a Yugoslavian hockey player for the New York Rangers to go to a "disco," which turned out to be a polka parlor in Queens filled with grey-haired immigrants. Or the invitation to go dancing with a Long Island middle-management guy to a "hot new club," which was - surprise, SURPRISE - Plato's Retreat. Or the beautiful peach stone villa in Kuwait that a man I once loved built for me. To this day, it remains empty, because I couldn't be a bird in a golden cage.

I could tell you about le coup de foudre when meeting a Dutchman on the
Ides of March in Bahrain and how it changed everything. I could tell you about the New York clairvoyant or the Arab numerologist who foretold my future with uncanny accuracy. I could tell you about the tears and fears and joys and thrills I have experienced living abroad, but that the worst heartbreaks were in the United States.

All these things and more I could tell you - but I'll save these stories for upcoming books. Meanwhile, I'm still collecting adventures. Hope you are too!

Thank you, Relyn. Such a pleasure to visit here!

All words and images by Tara Bradford of Paris Parfait.


Yoli said...

Oh Tara I am buying your book as soon as it comes out! I have always admired you not knowing but suspecting you were a woman of so much substance. Now I am just blown away by the beauty and heartache of your life. You are my hero. Or how they say it now,Shero!

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

Ms Bradford is something of a tease - but she's a darn good storyteller!

Now, we'll have to wait for the sequel!

Stephanie said...

Well, I agree with one of your readers here...tell me more.

I'll buy the book.

Christina said...

*Happy tears* I read this and my heart began beating faster. Faster with love, faster with curiosity...

I remember the day I fell in love with Tara. I always tell people, When God closed a door for me, Tara was the window He opened in my life. She encouraged me to lift my lens to what I saw in my life, lift my voice to tell my story. She rides with me in my thoughts on the train and she lives in my heart when I get tired.

I look forward to the day we sit across from one another drinking tea and telling our stories. Catching one another's tears, letting our laughter echo for miles.

A book? Just say when. : )

It's all love.

Thank you Relyn. xo

Jeanne said...

How lovely to have this special lady as your guest.
Bravo to you both.
Blessings and much love

I am enjoying reading all the postings

Di Mackey said...

I'm glad I followed you over, I was at work when your email arrived but here I am, smiling over your words.

Cheryl said...

What a life! sigh....to have seen and experienced so much. It was no accident I was drawn to her blog because my friends and I have been talking about adventure and risk a lot lately. And Tara's amazing life life is filled with examples of what is out there to experience when we dare to step out of our comfort zone.

tangobaby said...

What a wonderful preview of the book... and the movie?! So many adventures and I can't wait to read more. This is almost too much to bear, the wait.

But I am sure it will have been worth it when we can finally read for ourselves these amazing stories.

Gillian said...

Dearest Relyn~

A brilliant choice for guest blogger, if I do say so myself. :)
Like attracts like, so having already met Tara I now look forward to the day I get to meet you. I think we are all drawn to each other for a specific purpose...aren't we?

Tara the floodgates have opened and now I just feel like I must know MORE. You must get this book into print soon, I don't know how long I can wait. :) You're such a generous, intelligent, fun woman to be around, and you have lived a thousand lives...reading more about your life will be an absolute treat. As was this post. Thank you both ladies, for a wonderul intriguing read today. I'm boasting sweaty palms just thinking about some of those situations. Isn't life grand?
Thank goodness the house in Kuwait sits abandoned; no one should cage a bird like Tara.
Love to you both!!!

Patti said...

Wow! What a post- I am totally hooked and can NOT wait to read more of Tara's adventures. What a great storyteller- thanks Relyn!

Susan Tuttle said...

What a wonderful story for this evening. Thank you so much Relyn.

Come check out my latest book giveaway.


A Cuban In London said...

Yes, I was late. Anyway, many thanks for giving us a peek into your life and your new book. And thanks to Relyn for giving you the space.

Greetings from London.

My Castle in Spain said...

Amazing...tantalizing ! I knew Tara was UNIQUE but gosh..i'm utterly blown away! and i can't wait to read her book !!
thank you Relyn for inviting such a great lady...it was a real pleasure to read her post
much love to you both...

Karen Cole said...

I'm camping out at the bookstore until this book comes out.

Thanks Relyn and Tara!

jae said...

Wow Relyn...thanks for leading me to an amazing woman. Like everyone else, I will be anxiously waiting the novel.

paris parfait said...

Dear Relyn - Thanks for letting me talk about adventure by your lovely fireside. And thanks to all your thoughtful readers for their encouraging comments. Much appreciated! xo

Rosa said...

Wonderful post by Tara. Sigh. I was there in each sentence. Yes, by all means, I need more! Can't wait for a book!! What an amazing life and an extraordinary woman!

robin bird said...

i always knew you had a few stories to tell tara however i didn't know they were the kind that belong on the big screen! what a wonderful prologue you have offered up.

and i see the part about not wanting to be caged and that, that is the essential message here.

dutchbaby said...

You have lived one hundred lifetimes of adventure! Please write the book/screenplay soon.

William Horberg (producer of "Milk" and "Kite Runner") may be very interested. He just started his own independent production company.

Rebekah said...

What a lovely, welcoming place to visit you have created, Relyn. I'm so happy I found you through other blog friends who led me here. Tara, you are such a treasure. So willing to share the adventures of your bountiful life; so willing to share yourself. This incredible outline is the skeleton of a life you will flesh out beautifully in your book, and we will all be richer for the adventures you share.

Anonymous said...

Tara, I'm waiting patiently for those books......

Jaime said...

I was absolutely spellbound by this post.
All of a sudden my life feels so very small and in need of some good quality adventure!

I must go visit Paris Parfait. This was incredible.

Oldies, but Goodies