Monday, June 25, 2007

from Paris: breaks

A Sunday in Paris. A break from routine. And a broken camera.

We picnic at the Jardin Luxembourg. It’s cool still, but a Sunday in the park is beyond beautiful.

Food stores and markets stay open all morning, even as the rest of Paris shuts down for le week-end. So we shop. Cheese, baguette, tomatoes, berries, tarts. Spread on a bench with care.


A Frenchman pauses and tells us bon app├ętit! In travel, there is no pairing that is more approachable, more inviting of friendliness than the mother--grown-daughter combination. It’s as if it conjures up every good mother-child imagine out there. Good love. Strong bonds. Happy thoughts. It’s okay that my lover fails me. I, too, have a little one back home. Let me think about the summer ahead, building sandcastles and eating baguette sandwiches in the open air. My child is waiting for me. Life is good.

There are many small groups doing just this: pulling chairs close together to eat baguettes and salads.


It is a Sunday of roller blading again, as the skaters take over the city's boulevards. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I am, as before, enormously moved by this communal torrent of speeding humanity. My camera, however, decides right at this moment to mangle its insides. I don’t know this yet, but the speeding skater will be the last photo that will survive this day.


And it is unfortunate, because we spend a considerable amount of time studying (with me photographing) the wonders of the new Orangerie, the Right Bank parks and the Louvre buildings.

At the hotel, the transfer of photos to the computer fails after the first dozen or so. Corrupt images. What does that even mean? True, I have my second small camera, but suddenly I am distrustful of them all.

It has taken me years to learn to let go of frustration when technology stops functioning. When all emails get permanently erased. When the Internet sends weird error messages. When the computer does funny things that I do not understand. When precious photos get wiped off the camera and do not survive the transfer.

Things. Even cyberspace words and images are just things. It's a theft of sorts. Stored memories, wiped out. Eh! Just things.

Obviously I am writing hours later. Anger? What anger? I am in Paris.

In the evening, we pick a place that I found in a magazine here. It is one of the few that attempts a French rendition of Molecular Gastronomy. We visit the website and contemplate the various dishes and flavors and aromas.

And here’s the further strangeness to this day: we find the restaurant (easy enough), we sit down and we are handed menus. Conventional to the core! What happened to molecular gastronomy???


I dare not ask. It will be forever one of those unresolved mysteries. Something that should have been there and was not.

Broken images, missing flavors. Forget it, it's Paris. Enduring Paris. The love that lasts.