Monday, February 17, 2014
April in Paris
For at least the last couple of years, an ongoing, ceaseless yearning to visit Paris again has been buzzing in my heart. It was like background music - or tinnitus - because any time the idea came into my consciousness, I rejected it immediately. I can't afford to go to Paris! Relegated to the back burner, this yearning did not go away as I thought it would, but buzzed along, softly but insistently.
Last year when I turned sixty, the buzzing cranked up a notch or three. For a few days I seriously considered just buying a ticket and going. I was right on the verge. I'm grateful for the guidance, whether it was divine, cosmic or simply the voice of sanity, that helped me remember - before I pressed the BUY TICKET button on the Air France site - that being in Paris in February, alone, when everyone I love was somewhere else, was a Very Bad idea.
It took so much will power not to press that button even though Paris in February is gray, cold and gloomy, and I would have been alone, surrounded by Parisians who are formal and polite, but in general could live a long and happy life without encountering another American. That would not have been a great way to become sixty. No.
I didn't go, but since then, the calling to go has refused to be relegated to the back burner again. At New Year's this year my only resolution was to go to Paris. An almost single minded determination came to me, to figure out a way to go this year. The Voice in the Shower said only one thing on the subject: What are you waiting for?
I hear that a lot in the shower, now that I'm in my sixties.
Yesterday I bought my ticket. My hand shook as I at last touched the BUY TICKET button, but there was a smile on my face.
I've never been there in nice weather. It will likely rain but will be much nicer than in winter or in August. The biggest bonus is that very good friends from DC will be there. Hanging out with friends in Paris at the end of April? Yes, yes and YES. I have friends in London who could come over for a day as well. I think it's going to be pretty jolly.
But you know, I'm not going for fun. I don't want to stay "close to everything" as they say, or in a groovy neighborhood like the Marais. I want to be in a normal neighborhood that has one or two cafes and a Metro stop, maybe a food shop. I want to put my feet on the ground, walk around, sit and listen to people speak French. I want to visit L'Arc du Triomphe and take pictures of the Eiffel Tower. I need to gaze at Notre Dame and talk to the river. I have a deep need to reconnect with the land and the history.
I'm completely uninterested in the Death March of Culture through the Louvre, etc. That part of the city will be crawling with tourists. I wish to steer a clear path around all that, as much as possible, considering my desire to shamanically dance with some of the famous sites.
What is the source of this tremendous longing? That I can't say, but I feel in my heart of hearts that there is something waiting for me in Paris. I have to go pick it up in person.
I am so excited!