I turned 30 in May. I wanted to write about it at the time, but I just didn’t have a chance to sit down and write. This year has been both a curse and a blessing: I’m having some major career/direction anxiety (specifically around writing YA), but I’ve also gotten so many school and event bookings. It’s ironic: the passion that stops me from writing is the same passion that you hear when I speak.
I used to say that I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in France – maybe Paris, maybe Provence. Somewhere wonderful and pretty and heavy on scenery, pastry and cheese. But as the time approached, and my husband started asking questions about flight bookings and dates off work, I realised that I didn’t want to be away from those I loved, and sadly, that I was a little afraid to go somewhere that was going through such turmoil.
So my loved ones brought Paris home for me. My best friend Danielle hired a huge Eiffel Tower for the backyard and my cousin Jo put all the things she’d hoarded to good use and set up a lovely little Patisserie in my back pergola. There, people could fill miniature baskets with pastries, cheese, baguettes and picnic-y foods, and then join me for a Picnic under the Eiffel Tower.
I didn’t look my best – I had moved into an unfinished house two days prior and was overwhelmed with a zillion writing deadlines, writing workshop preparation and university assignments that needed marking. My shirt didn’t match my skirt, I didn’t have time to do my hair or nails, and I was incredibly tired.
But I had ordered so many French pastries from La Banette in Glebe, pulled a few recipes out of Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen, and stocked up on French wines, champagne and imported cheese at Dan Murphy’s and the David Jones Food Hall. So I let myself get excited by the prospect of bringing my wanderlust home.
I hung French bunting in the yard, displayed my collection of French memoirs and coffee table books, and put a flower crown in my hair. That day, we ate salad nicoise, fresh oysters, quiche and baguettes. French fries and brie and croissants. Fresh berries, baskets of pain au chocolat and delicious tarts and eclairs.
And just like that, I was a French girl in my own little Paris, heralding in a new chapter with my loved ones at my side, and a glass of champagne in my hand.