The Story of Beefy Parisian Pig - Prologue
My introduction to Beefy Parisian Pig was unexpected. When Wanda Petunia's story first came to me, it arrived as a download from Heaven, maybe Hog Heaven :) The words just streamed into my head, and I wrote them down.
Wanda had been betrayed. She was betrayed by her boyfriend, who she'd seen kissing a sow... And, Wanda had just heard the saying, "Do not let the sun set on your anger." Being a pig with principles, and also wanting to honor her sad and mad feelings, she could not let the sun set on her anger. So Wanda decided to outrace the sun by heading West.
Who knew where she would end up? She was "root'in mad and snortin' mad." Her journey ended up with a lot of miles heading West - through the Mid-West where a crop dusting pilot flew her to LA. From there, she travelled to Japan and then India - where she still felt a hot, spicy anger.
After almost circling the planet, Wanda landed in France... the worst place in the world for a pig with a broken heart. She ended up in Paris. She was tired, she was hungry.
But unlike pigs who would look for truffles in the woods, Wanda went to the truffle shop. It was there where she first saw Beefy Parisian Pig. Her heart melted, her anger melted ~ and just as the sun set! Perfect, right?
Well maybe not!
Lest you think this was meant to be a romantic conclusion to Wanda's betrayal, you would be wrong. I wasn't sure I even understood that until I went to France. But more on that in the future!
This story "Love Catches Up with Wanda Petunia," came as a gift to me. Yet as I reflected on it, I didn't particularly like the idea that she would need to meet someone else to get over her ex and the betrayal. That scenario didn't quite fit right in my therapist mind. And yet, that's how the story had arrived firmly in my mind.
Some time later, a second Wanda story arrived in my imagination. "Wanda Petunia Hearts Love" is her second story. It's an adventure where Valentine's Day is approaching. Everyone seems to have a true love, and Wanda wants a true love for Valentine's Day too. Wait, I wondered?? What had happened to Beefy Parsian Pig? Had that romance already ended and she was now looking for someone else again?
It wasn't until I got to meet Beefy Parisian Pig more closely, that the puzzle pieces of this mystery began to come together. By writing his story in the area he was born ~ the south of France, it all made more sense. But again, that will be revealed in 2022 as you keep reading this posts (I hope).
The importance of Beefy Parisian Pig first surfaced in my first in-person Artist's Way class in 2015-2016. One of the chapters explores "big hairy audacious goals" or at least that's how I remember it. What are the ridiculous and seemingly impossible creative goals you would have if you could? I made a list, and one of the goals truly had energy:
"I would like to write Beefy Parisian Pig's story in France in French."
I had wanted to go to France before, but it had not worked out. Those doubts seeped back in. What if it didn't work out? How would this even be possible? But this time was different. First, I was in a group. And when a group holds a vision for you, it's very powerful.
Second, it was time. Timing is very important in life.
Third, I took action. Inspired action. I hired my first French tutor. I googled "French artist residencies" and applied to one. I asked a few friends for references, they promptly agreed. And the following week I was accepted.
Surely this was a scam! Could something this fantastic be so easy? My French teacher who had travelled France reviewed it. Yes, she said, it was real!
This was all in early 2016. I spent the next few months practicing French more, I even got another tutor. I explored how I could take off work, how I could afford this. Things just kept falling into place.
By October, I would be on my way > for a month in the south of France. I had been having anxiety attacks (not related to France) and the idea of traveling so far by myself definitely didn't help.
In that period of time, I did have fears. What if there were a terrorist and I didn't know what to do? A wise friend suggested I just follow what others were doing. What if I got lost? Another wise friend promised that help would arrive from somewhere.
Because I had never travelled so far and on my own, I asked friends to write cards or letters I could take with me. In my plan, I would open them along the way when I felt a need or emotional emergency. Here's the Facebook post I sent at the time.
By my departure, I had around 30 pieces of mail.
Each piece of mail was perfect and could be a whole other story in itself! I did turn the cards and notes into a book, and still treasure each one to this day!
On the day in early October 2016, when I left Charleston, WV there was a hurricane pushing up the East coast. The pilot taxied the plane onto the runway, paused it and then came out to tell us in person it would be a rough ride possibly, but it would be okay. In Charlotte, there was already a great downpour. I looked out the terminal windows to see Charlotte's skyline and imagined my youngest son that direction. Adlai lived in Charlotte and had reopened his FB account so he could keep up with my travels.
I left on the plane heading further north to avoid the extreme storm system. I sat alone, no one on either side of me. Somewhere over the Atlantic, I read a card from my friend Laurie. This was my first card to randomly (intuitively) open and (not surprisingly) it was a lovely writing about her experience with airplane food. My vegetarian airplane meal on that portion of the trip was possibly the best meal I'd ever tasted.
In France, we disembarked the plane out on the runway - like in an old movie and I still don't know why. There was a delay to get to my train - as the airport had a bomb threat. Finally, I boarded my train ride to the heart of Paris. There were French buskers on the train and outside I could see so many stunning vivid black and white birds that I immediately adored - only later to be told there were annoying pains :) Back underground with the metro again, military men with long rifles moved in unison, like a stingray sailing through water.
My second French teacher had told me only tourists take taxis, and I had to only take trains! Mission accomplished so far. It felt odd to be so close to the Eiffel Tower and not go see it. I had to trust that at the end of my trip I would get there.
Somehow, I reemerged from the train station somewhere in Paris, and miraculously found another train to take me to the south of France, to Tonnerre.
At this train station, I got a snack. It was exciting to use the European currency - which was so beautiful. Then, I saw a couple kissing. The woman (of the kissing couple) got onto the train alone. I just stared at her. Eventually, when I was confused about my stops she adopted me. We could not speak each other's language, but she would take me (as if a child) to the next train when a transfer was required. She helped me get situated, then she would get off the train to smoke and hop on before it left. Finally, she told me when my stop was up!
Tonnerre definitely looked like a village out of WWII movie. Keep in mind, I arrived in this place later in the day after the day after I had left in the morning. I was tired, very. I didn't really know French. No one was there waiting for me. Hmm.
I was okay for awhile, then began to panic. Maybe not panic, but I definitely did feel uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. I eventually decided to open a card from my friend Megan. It was a Hafiz quote, "This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you." The perfect reminder brought my mind relief. I had been afraid to use my phone - since I didn't really understand international calling. But with the Hafiz encouragement, finally I did.
The residency had gotten my pickup time confused with the arrival of (who would be my new friend) Cobra. She was coming from Mexico and needed picked up later. Before I knew it, someone from the residency (Elizabeth) pulled up in her car to pick me up. I was almost there!
Photo below: Me at the entrance to Noyers, the medieval village where I would be for a month.
I hope that as I share the story of Beefy Parisian Pig, you will keep reading to learn about my challenges, obstacles, blessings and the beauty of his story. Let me know what you connect with, what inspires you. I want to know!