Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Each time I come to Paris, I experience a rush of feelings. I've been told so many times in my life that I am too sensitive but I have come to learn that there is no such thing as too sensitive. I think that it is precisely this sensitivity that allows me to experience my time here at a heightened level of appreciation. Beauty here is beauty x 10 and I am one of the lucky ones that gets to absorb it. This is not to say that there aren't moments of feeling off-balance....
This trip started that way. Maybe it was the 45 minutes of heavy turbulance somewhere over Iceland that made me shaky. My seatmate was sleeping and it woke her-- she reached for my hand. It is really something to hold hands with a complete stranger and work through a fear. We of course, survived it all and hugged each other tight to say our goodbyes. On arrival, the heat wave we were having set an unbearable tone and then Alain was barely here with me before he left again.... Things were starting differently this time....
With jet-lag in general, I feel off -balance-- sometimes the adjustment is quicker than others. Our 18th century apartment building is off-kilter in and of itself. The floors slant down toward the street which makes hanging a painting on the wall or setting a table straight tricky. It also makes me feel wobbly in the night when I get up on sleepless occasions. You might laugh, but if I drink just a bit too much wine, I have to work at walking a straight line! That's when it's convenient to blame it on that beautiful parquet de Versaille floor!
Toward the end of my stay, I like to think about my Paris story. Days here are full of short stories and like any good novel, there is a captivating beginning, a middle and an strong ending. The start to my stay always begins with a trip to the Vanves or Cligancourt flea market. I don't know what it is with my flea market obsession, but those weekend mornings are always some of the highlights of my stay. I am fascinated with all the history of course but I am fascinated with the market culture in general. There are so many colorful people who sell and buy... it makes me wish I could draw. I would sit and sketch for hours-- instead I sketch with words. There is one of my favorite vendors at the Vanves who deals only in silver objects. He always wears plaid patterned shirts and a big smile for everyone. He never stops polishing his silver even when discussing prices with a customer. He is a positive soul among a group of somtimes frustrated, gruff vendors. The Cligancourt vendors are more polished and the array of antiques, astonishing. Over the years it has become more commercial but I understand that it is difficult to survive in such an old trade.
I am beginning to see that I have a history here... 30 plus years is a long enough time to see many changes and I feel fortunate to watch the evolution. What never changes, is the café society. Paris is perfectly designed for walking and then resting. A pause, a coffee or tea, and people watching never gets old. On this trip, I have lunched with complete strangers-- literally put our tables together to eat-- and have had many chats over tea with Parisians who are interested to know where my "little accent" is from and then what I think about the upcoming election once they know I am American. I find myself at the Deux Magots often at the end of the afternoon. I used to avoid the big cafés on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, but I find the Deux Magots to be more charming than most and without a lot of pretense.
I have made a few new friends recently and I am actually greeted on our street from time-to-time by people I am beginning to know. This helps a lot when I am feeling lonely. I do feel really comfortable here-- rarely homesick for the States, but what I do miss is my family, my friends, my dog (so much!), and the open and positive spirit of the American people. The anything is possible attitude is missing here and it goes a long way to make life bearable in times of difficulty. A few of my new friends are dogs... don't laugh! The dogs here walk along unleashed and are completely disciplined. They walk the streets with that Parisian pride-- they know they are beautiful and they know they own the neighborhood and their master's heart! My heart too for that matter!
I've added the photograph of our living room to this post so that you can enjoy along with me, the comfort and joy that I experience every time I set foot in our home here. I liken it to a jewel box because of the sheer delight that I feel when I "lift the lid" on this precious gem. I entered the apartment slowly this time on arrival...nervous that I might not feel as in love as I did the first few times coming here. I need not have worried-- believe me, the magic is still alive and well! In fact, I am always amazed by the fact that my love for Paris never diminishes. I still feel like that wide-eyed young girl who visited Paris for the first time at age 19. When I cross the Seine river for the first time on each trip, my eyes sparkle, my heart beats a bit faster, and I swear my feet lift up a bit off the ground.... I feel light as air! Paris has a firm grip on my heart! No matter how a visit starts off, it always finishes with my feeling in complete balance. Two sides of me come together which results in a very satisfied soul...
I understand the goodbye now better.... Goodbye leads to hello and then hello leads to goodbye. There should be this constant ebb and flow to life and if we are lucky, we will know many hellos and goodbyes in this lifetime. I can't wait to see my loved ones and then, soon thereafter, I can't wait to say hello again to Paris.