She is strong, elegant, enduring, beautiful with a classic elegance and a palate for all new foods and adventures. In the past I have sent her to Paris, with her French class in High School. And she on her own has studied abroad in London, visiting Scotland, Ireland and who knows where else in the 4 months she was there. Paris Gray, that's my girl. Life is not made of things. Life is made of experiences.
Paris (the city) has always been an escape for me. Once, a daring freedom, insisted upon, bought for a big price, and sacrifice (defiance even!). A treasured adventure with 5 of the most amazing women I've ever encountered. Chickie, Janey, Sandy, Corrine andCatherine (Dr. Mac!). Those wonderful days, trading roommates each day, dinners of steak pommes frites, a sip of Calvados, a tiny paper umbrella tucked behind an ear after a saucy night out, always diligent journal entries each night.
We rented a car and drove around France, clockwise of course, Paris being 12 and Lyon 1:30, Roussilon being 6, Limoges being as close to 9 as we could afford this trip (parking was quel horreur and it was pouring rain), Ending at Mont St. Michelle and Versailles before Charles De Gaulle heading to San Francisco International. We had our ups and downs, (who could think 6 independent, determined, strong minded women would travel two weeks in a foreign country without a difference of opinion now and then?) oh my, did it end up being the trip of a lifetime.....
My dearest friend Karen and her new husband Jon are on their honeymoon (18 months delayed) in Paris as we speak and they are posting diligently their daily adventures. I am so thrilled to say to myself as I read those posts, "Lara! (my other me says to myself in my head) We've been there! We know exactly what they are talking about! We have SAT UPON COLETTE'S grave at Pere Lachaise, JUST LIKE KAREN is now!" I am revisiting an old friend (Paris) with an old friend (Karen, since we were 11), right now as we struggle with this life and these challenges...I suddenly am 32 (and 38) visiting Paris again. I am there. It's almost enough that I have been and that I know and can live it again now.
Again when I was 38, I returned to Paris for my birthday. Paris in May is lovely! However, my birthday (May 1) was Fête du Travail (everything is closed) and I could not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and throw my wedding ring over the edge as I had longed to do (2006- 18 years= divorce for me). *trying to find image on Google of this sign is actually futile!* The only sign I could come up with is this:
I assure you , I had no desire to climb the Eiffel Tower. Well, I did climb it, there are some stairs to the top. But please believe me when I tell you that there is a sign that says something close to "you will go to jail if you throw things off the Eiffel Tower". As a law abiding citizen, I of course could not continue my plan. Tant pis. But I only had 4 days in Paris and I was not keen on spending ANY of them in the hoosgow- French or otherwise....
Sadly and undramatically, I left my wedding ring in my little red coin purse with my Euros. But every now and then I do think "what if I had thrown it?" (A poor starving artist may have found it and hocked it and was able to buy a few more pages of Arches Watercolor paper that would have allowed him/her to paint the picture that he/she sold to the honeymooning tourists -not unlike Karen and Jon-, that paid his/her rent and allowed him/her a few more months in Paris").
This trip I rode the train through the "Chunnel" from England to Paris. A first class ticket to Paris, with lunch and wine. I was so happy, so excited and feeling so very spoiled, a birthday gift from a very special person who had lived in France and been to Paris and had places to introduce me to, but who also paid attention and made reservations to stay at my favorite little hotel in the 5th arrondissement, the Hotel Europe St. Severin. Oh not fancy or 5 star, but in my neighborhood. ( My mother always told me- the least expensive place in the best neighborhood!). Yes, the 5th arrondissement is the best neighborhood. St. Michelle Metro station....the life on the street is my favorite.
The perfect birthday gift.
The sad thing is how different technology is now. Well, it's not sad that it is the way it is now, but then. My first trip to Paris (and France) was with a little camera who's greatest claim to fame was that it could print panoramic photos. They are beautiful photos, I still have them. They must be scanned and uploaded and inserted and added to the cloud etc.
This second trip to Paris (38), was with a photographer. He is so talented. Unfortunately all photos of that 4 day trip had crashed shortly thereafter with his hard drive (it was 2006). And all we have are memories.
Which brings me to my conclusion. It's not the things you have. It's the memories you make. Those are the real treasures.
So. A post with no pictures. A first? For me? yes. Use your imagination. If you cannot. Go to Paris. Wander Pere Lachaise. Have an espresso at a little cafe. Some raclette at the place across from the Hotel St. Severin. Ride the Bateaubus down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Climb the stairs. View the view. Buy a book at Shakespeare and Co., A Pernod at Cafe Flore. Aside from the births of my three children, these are some of my fondest memories.
It would be so sad if you couldn't see what I have seen.
It is truly a beautiful life. I'm ready for more.