31 August, 2011

Breakfast in Paris: Tomorrow is now Yesterday

Breakfast in Paris: Tomorrow is now Yesterday: I have just left my first home in Paris for the last time. With Monsieur Goutagny on the practically mandatory Parisian August holiday he ...

Tomorrow is now Yesterday

I have just left my first home in Paris for the last time.  With Monsieur Goutagny on the practically mandatory Parisian August holiday he had a friend come by to check me out of the flat.  Of course being it was already halfway through August she, too, would be leaving for her trip after our meeting.

I spent the last two days packing up 6 months of memories.  I recall the first time I entered that apartment alone, falling exhausted and lonely on the couch.  This time it was going through to the other side of the doors that proved difficult.  The place “belongs” to me and I to it.  Am I the only one that gets this possessive about a residence?  I hope I am not because it is a wonderful feeling to feel connected to the home you go to every night.  Where you learn, you change, you grow, you…LIVE! 

Lauren, the agent, shut “my” door for me the last time I walked out.  The door of the perfect little studio I so love closed with the loud click I have become accustomed to, signifying that one part of my European life has come to a close. She helped me, holding my fan and my computer and a little bag of memories that I had plugged up on the wallboard during my stay.  We walked the twelve feet across the hall to the place where I would be staying for a few days.  Elvira, my always gracious neighbor, had offered to allow me to stay at hers whilst I await my holiday to Spain. I unlocked the hard wooden door that resembles my own, or the one that was mine rather.  There I turned and Lauren saw what I had feared she would: huge tears falling silently, involuntarily from my eyes.  
I shut the door behind Laura, a kind woman, I thought, even though she was the grim reaper of my apartment.  I sat in the silent wide-open rooms of the flat.  Much, much larger than mine and empty since Elvira is on her vacation.  Empty except, of course, for the little (albeit growing) chat that I love.  She comes running down the long hard wood corridor along with the sunlight that bounces off of it making it look like gold.  She circles my legs and purrs.  Chat is happy I am here and slowly the tears start to subside.
I walk around looking at the walls that aren't mine, realize I need a tissue. As I go to grab a paper towel I get the instinctual feeling when your legs take you were you need to go without asking you.  Mine took me towards the front door to my old place.  Then I realized, no, no I don't live there anymore.  It hurt, that gut hurt where you cave in for just a second with the realization that the past is now, in fact, the past.

Luckily the view from Elvira's, is soothing.  With one quick turn of the head I gasp as the Sacre Coeur comes into view, up on the hill looking majestic with its white marble dome.  It is overwhelming.  On “my” side of the building (as you know) I had looked down onto my half naked neighbor or schizophrenic, bad guitar playing teenager.  Quite the change.
I take a deep breath gazing out at the view.  Wiping the final tear from my eyes it occurs to me.  I have never lived anywhere I didn’t shed a tear upon leaving.  This fact tells me that I am doing something right.  The fact is I am sensitive and I feel EVERYTHING –heaven help me. 
As I pack up and leave a part of my life behind, if there are no tears, what does that mean?  Was I not truly fulfilled there?  Should I not only be excited for the next horizon but spend a brief moment mourning the loss of another successful adventure?  So it is with tears, at the end of an old beginning, that I left my CafĂ© de la Lune to create another series of beautiful memories in my life!
Espana here I come!  Or like my landlord said when he called today, “Vive l’espagne”.
Mais j’aime Paris tout mon vie!

17 August, 2011

Six Moins...

Paris from Montmarte

Just over 6 months ago, I followed a slightly frail looking gray haired French man through a thick wooden door and into the slightly pungent air of the apartment I would be calling home.  6 months that feels like both a decade and a week.  Today I sit here and look around: my clothes all carrying that musty smell I had once thought of as unpleasant.  They occupy the drawers of the black and brown dresser where my old school TV sits.  My airline ticket stub and a “Welcome to your new home” card from my parents, which were hung on the closet partition, are now covered with 6 months of Parisians memories.  The kitchen holds a few less glasses I may or may not have broken and the terrace blooms green sprouts that I had planted.  Then in my closet, in the very back sits my suitcases, which today I pull out with a heavy heart.  
You see my contract for my apartment expires on Monday signaling the beginning of the end of my time here.  I won’t be heading back to the states right away.  Instead I am becoming a nomad once again heading off for a couple of weeks in Spain before returning to my Paris where I will stay with friends. 
Le Louvre from the sky

I try to push back the images of taking the flight back to the states.  I try to avoid thinking about rejoining my life there.  But the thing is nothing will ever be the same again anyhow.  My life there, nor anywhere, will ever be the same because I am not the same.  I have chased a dream but lived a reality.  The experiences I have had and continue to have will forever be emblazoned on my heart. 

 I love it here, you may have guessed.  I love way the French are so open to life and laughter.  I love the flowers in the window boxes and the random parks that seem to call to you to take a load off.  I love the fast pace of the streets, the slow pace of the market, and the way the city has no problem closing down for a month so everyone can vacation.  I love that there are 2 months out of the year everything is on sale.  I love that the city doesn’t really wake up until 11 and if you are out before that it is like having it all to yourself.  I love that I can go and see a movie in an outdoor park and enjoy a bottle of wine with my friends.  I love that they ship in sand to make a beach along the Seine every summer.  I love that a proper meal takes three hours and that the service staff are rarely in a big rush.  I love the way the French language sounds when coming from little kids.  I love that you can be in the country in 30 minutes for a calm day outside the city.  
Paris Plage
I love that clothes don’t have to match to be fashionable and that you can get a 5euro dress at a farmers market that is good quality.  I love the open-air markets that are sprinkled over the city every Sunday offering varieties of fish and ample selections of cheese.  I love seeing people walking down the street carrying a baguette in long white bags.  I love that pique-niques are common and that there are lines of bicycles for rent across the city where you can pick up and drop them off.  I love that it is hard to find an open grocer on Sunday’s. 

I could care on and on.  But I will leave you with this simple sentence. 
Mon coeur est si vivant!