$100,000, One Year, Your Dream

Posted March 22nd, 2010 by Candice

I spent this weekend so sick from allergies, I am now dehydrated.  My husband has gone to the store for some Sprite, cranberry juice, a small container of Hagan Daaz vanilla bean ice cream, and a neti pot.  I’m not looking forward to using the neti pot but I’m tired of the side effects of Benadryl and other allergy pills that don’t work.  My sister once got knocked over by a wave at Rehoboth Beach and sucked in half the Atlantic.  She claimed her sinuses were clear as a dinner bell for six months.  So I’m hoping the neti pot will have the same effect.

One thing I enjoyed this weekend was finishing Adriana Trigiani’s Rococo, a novel about a New Jersey interior decorator who wants more than anything in his life to renovate his parish church.  Trigiani’s descriptions of food and interior design are reason enough to read the book, but her offbeat characters make the story come alive. 

Bartolomeo discovers a small Modigliani statue hidden in a resin statue of one of the Fatima children (from the miracle).  Suddenly he has more money than he’s ever dreamed.  He considers spending "a year in Hong Kong watching the local artisans make silk.  Or design school in London, where I would learn how to design wall treatments to the trade."

When I read this I thought, Here’s a man who would dedicate his windfall to his craft, not run out and buy a Porche with a Rolex dangling from the gearshift.  I read the part about spending a year in Hong Kong watching artisans make silk over and over.  It Later in the story, Bartolomeo argues with the parish benefactor, a woman rich as cream who has pulled the renovation funding for personal reasons.

He tells her, "If you do your work, money follows.  It shows up.  But it doesn’t have anything do with the magnificence of a person . . . What matters is what you make.  Whether it’s a cake for bingo night or a costume for a saintn or a wall of water–whatever you pour yourself into int his life is what makes you rich."

What you make.

Last night while I lay awake, too sick to sleep, I pretended I had been given $100,000 and one year of time do to as I please.  Where would I go? What would I do?  I considered a year in Paris, sitting at cafes, writing in my notebook like one of the Lost Generation.  But Paris seemed a bit gray and I don’t know the language.  Then I considered Italy–take one of Linda Lappin’s workshops on Soul of Place, soak up the special light that inspired so many artists and artisans.

But I’m an Anglophile.  I’d go to England.  But not London.  I chose Cherwell, because it’s close to Oxford, a magical place, the city of "dreaming spires."  I’d bicycle around the village, picnic on the banks of the River Cherwell, take day trips to Oxford, take longer trips to the Lake District, Cornwall, Wales . . . I’d take notes and write and study and read.  What would I make?  I’d make myself smarter, broaden my often-narrow Virginia horizons.  I would come home with a sketchbook filled with inept drawings and my not-very-good photographs.  And I would come home with a new novel, about something I never knew was inside me until I spent the time there.

What would you do with $100,000 and one free year?  Where would you go?  What would you make?