Right now, this very minute, I am sitting on my terrace – the sound of local kids running on the streets, a dog barking in the distance just past the overwhelming sound of urgent cars. An emergency vehicle goes by as usual and it sounds like maybe the dog barks at its bumper. I hear the air being let out of the tires of a bus stopping to pick up commuters. The sky is overcast, as it has been the last 3 weeks and the air a perfect combination of warm and cold as if there may not be any air at all. Only a hint of a breeze comes my way.
I have just returned from St. Germain en Laye, a suburban town about 45 minutes outside of the city. My best friend here in Paris, Alison, has the pleasure of being employed here in France which means that she and every other employed Parisian will be taking the month of August off. No, you did not read wrong - this is the absolute, beautiful, truth. The end of the French year is July. Most folks don’t even make it through July to be honest. But by late July every family has found their au pair for the following year (of course that means Septembre through Mai), their children have finished up their brief summer activities, bags have been packed, white window shutters securely latched up tight or (more than likely) flats rented out.
The abundance of available apartments in Paris during July and August is immense. While the intelligent Parisians leave the city behind they rent out their flats to the unassuming tourists who will come to the city and find that is has closed down for the month. No matter to the landlord, they have their overpriced rent in pocket and have taken it with them, along with their family, to a beach in the south of France or to Spain or Greece. Anywhere that is not here.
I wonder what we are doing wrong in America? We may be a “free” country but the grand majority of American’s are under a dictatorship – forced under a regime that dictates mealtimes, bathroom breaks, telephone calls, even doctors appointments – the workplace. I can’t help but think we have it all wrong in the US. Where is the “life” in our lives?