Monday, April 21, 2008


The table by the window hasn't been cleared so I hover a bit, je prefere le fenetre, s'il vous plait.  they clear it what seems reluctantly.  I ask for cafe creme, not American coffee please.... And the waiter in his beautiful grey suit hesitates for a moment as if searching in his data banks for the meaning of the words, and says "of course" that some how ends up sounding like, "you pain in the cou!"

Omlettes are prepared to order, the buffet is loaded with   breakfast selections familiar to the Engliah, German, American, and Italian guests. The window looks out on a grey day, threatening rain.  I see a white van, now a canvas for a graffitti artist- parked under a bridge.  Couples surround me, from all over the world, I see them all with the new eyes of a woman on her own.  What drives us all to union? What drives some of us to solitude? 

The waiters here are all rude in that uniquely professional and French way.

They bump into you without apology, bang down your drink, leave you the bill abruptly.  But they act like this to everyone and so... And so its ok.  I am not singled out for rude service today, I am in fact just like everyone else.  Even the French find Parisians obnoxious. 

The catacombs under the city are filled with neatly stacked femurs and skulls, all once warm, complicated people.  I wander in the dimly lit caves and corridors near the groups of silly tourists and serious artist, alone and conscious of my experience.  Too close and I am subsumed into their banter, too far and I am anxious, small, female, vulnerable.  The placards in Latin and French, quotes from Ovid to Rousseau, are easy enough for me to read.  I thank my mother silently for my education.

Above ground the rain spits a bit.  No one has yet donned their spring clothing, the boots and leather jackets are still in full view.  Another month I guess before the sparkle of color hits the streets. Still, the trees are in bloom and the birds sing sweetly; spring is on its way.

At the top of every Metro station there is a couple kissing.  Kissing is so acceptable here it is almost unacceptable not to kiss. Sweet goodbyes are said by couples parted by their routines, or obligations.  Prolonged goodbyes decorate the streets.

At night I listen to a German lady sing Spanish jazzy loves songs in a club called Havanna Jazz - out side Chicanos posture and grub cigarettes from their friends.  It feels funny to see the tough Chicano clothing and accent here, intermingled with French instead of English.   The club is dark and warm, the music well performed, the cello adding the classy softness to the sound.  I drink red vermouth on ice. 

My friends know a fine place to eat in the Marais district.  We sit and talk of culture and politics, corporate social responsibility, lingerie and of course the amazing food.  The tough looking waiter has a high pitched voice and misinterprets us many times.  He is impatient in a double whammy of gay and Parisienne.  We have a fine laugh, none of us French, yet comfortable enough being dissed by this fussy man.

The rain hurries us to the Metro where it feels safe enough, and wonderfully efficient at getting you anywhere.  My stop comes and I give them all "la bize" the cheek to cheek double kiss the French greet and depart with.    I rush of the car and make my way to my next train.  A short walk with not too much anxiety and I'm back at the hotel.  I text my friends to let them know I'm fine.

Tomorrow I leave for Boston, back to work, back to America again, back to the worries I put on hold.  I leave here feeling refreshed and conscious of that place in me that is at home anywhere and everywhere.  I pray my silent prayer of hope that dreams do come true, that we create our lives and loves and that here, in Paris, I picked up the right ingredients. 

Au revoir-

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