There were two pivotal meetings scheduled for Renee that could shape the perception of the success or failure of the trip. One was her talk to the Department of Physiology, and the second was a one-on-one meeting with Ron Myer. Dr. Myer was a known opponent of the compartmentation theory and Dr. Ventura-Clapier was a supporter. They had never, to my knowledge, talked face-to face about their theories. This would be an opportunity to do that. I, of course, could not compel them to chat, but I would provide them with the opportunity to do so. Just getting them together for a friendly conversation would be a huge meeting of the minds and I was in a position to make that happen.

Renee was an experienced scientist and accomplished public speaker, so I was not concerned with her ability to give a good presentation. My concern was that the attendance might be disappointing, or that the questions from an audience populated by anti-compartmentation people might be antagonistic. To address this, I made it clear well in advance that my future post-doc was at stake and that a lively discussion was always welcome, but that it would be assumed that everyone would be friendly. The promise of a “lively” discussion helped generate even more interest in Renee’s talk.

For Renee’s visit I organized a minute-by-minute schedule with all the different faculty members, some social time and work time with me. She was meeting with the Department Chairs, and scientists, from many different departments, post docs, the French club, and a group of cardiologists, plus a lunch session with undergraduates. I also built into her schedule some time to go shopping for some local souvenirs. Renee had two young sons and this would probably be an important part of any trip abroad. I intentionally scheduled multiple meetings with Renee for me because I thought I might need to do some work off line between meetings with her. While I was taking her from appointment to appointment, I was going to use the time she was in meetings to work on my research project in France.

The day of Renee’s arrival was fast approaching and the plans were going well. We had the funds we needed to cover Renee’s costs; she would be reimbursed for her out-of pocket expenses and her airfare paid upon arrival. Unfortunately an interesting wrinkle came to light. She would be reimbursed for half her airfare while in Michigan and the other half when she returned. This despite the fact that she could prove that she had already paid the full fare. The administration apparently felt that she would have only incurred half the cost of the fare until she made the return trip. She wouldn’t get full reimbursement until she returned to France. It would be up to me to explain that to her. I hoped she had a sense of humor.

Renee arrived at Lansing Airport from Paris on a Sunday evening. I met her there and gave her the schedule for the week, a list of emergency contact phone numbers and a map of the university with key locations highlighted and explained, including where she was staying, and the Department of Physiology building. She was jetlagged and tired, and the week was going to be a long one, so I brought her right to her accommodations. I also explained to her that we would be able to get her a reimbursement check during the week, but that her biggest expense; the airfare, could only be partially reimbursed now. I told her the administration rule about this and she thought it was silly and quite funny. She was a good sport about it. I briefed her on the week explained all the stuff I gave her, and promised to pick her up the next day bright and early.

I went home to Ann and shared my excitement about the upcoming week. She was excited too, but I knew she was also dreading the week because it reinforced the likelihood of our impending separation. She was also concerned that the week might not go well, but most of that was beyond the control of either of us. For the next few days providence would be controlling our destiny with regard to Renee’s visit, and maybe even our trip to Paris.

I arrived to pick up Renee right on time. I dressed in a suit and tie for the occasion and had called her first appointment in advance to ensure that they would be there. She was meeting with the Chair of Physiology as kind of a welcoming talk. I dropped her off and left to prepare some things for when Renee and I would be talking later that day.