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Back in Birmingham now, and although I still feel a little fuzzy-brained, jet lag hasn’t been too bad. A long time ago I read something saying that jet lag was largely about dehydration, and I started chugging water before, after, and during flights. And–whether the dehydration thing is true or it’s all in my head–I always feel pretty good after overseas flights.

I keep thinking about Oscar Wilde’s grave in the Pere Lachaise cemetary in Paris. It’s the most amazing grave I’ve ever seen. And the most interactive. It’s a blockish, angular structure with angels, but the design isn’t what you’ll remember. Fans come here to leave a personal remembrance to Wilde.  It’s covered in kisses–lipstick mouths are everywhere within kissing distance. And hundreds of notes in ink and lipstick–I love yous and Thanks yous and sometimes something more distinctive like, “Dorian Gray made me love literature!” or “You made me feel less alone.”  It’s incredibly moving to see such a concrete–no pun intended–sign of how a writer has touched people, has touched them in such a personal way that they want to press their mouths to the stone that covers his body. And, fitting for Wilde, visitors have found a way to express their love and respect in such a quirky, bizarre, charming way. It’s not some deep, pedantic exercise to write on his grave–they read more like text messages, complete with smiley faces and hearts and multiple exclamation marks. It’s the casualness of it, the lack of pretense, that makes the whole thing so powerful. These people from all over the world, writing in many languages, feel like they know Oscar Wilde. They talk to him like a friend. Or like someone they met on Facebook. That’s a testament to writing that’s lasted through the ages. 🙂 

Unending Love for Oscar Wilde

One last comment on arriving back to the States. For all the benefits of globalization, it’s almost eradicated the joy of the hard-to-find treat. A decade ago, if I went to Ireland or London, I had a list of what to eat immediately..and what to cram into my bag to bring home. Toblerones and Hobnobs and Cadbury Honeycomb bars (my favorite). I wanted fish and chips and Orangina and great Indian food (speaking of London there, not Ireland). Now I can find pretty much any candy or cookies or soft drinks I want at World Market or even Publix. I like Taj India here in Birmingham as much as I’ve liked any Indian restaurant in London. And more than once eating in France, whether it was moules frites or a croque monsieur or beef carpaccio, I’d think that while the food was good, I’d had better at Highlands or Chez Fonfon (again, right here in Birmingham.)

Overall, it’s a beautiful thing that you can find excellent food without crossing an ocean. But I left Europe without stuffing a single chocolate bar in  my bag.  And I never even eat Toblerone anymore because I can find it everywhere. It doesn’t taste quite as good now.

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