Friday, June 20, 2008

from somewhere in Paris, by the river Marne, and Paris, and finally, Madison

So what will I remember most, now that I am heading home? Oh, the two little girls, of course!

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…and their parents, Olivier and Aurore.

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…and the music notes coming from the house. A trill of oboe notes. That would be Olivier. And piano… is it the older girl? Yes, yes, and don’t forget the paintings and the pictures and the chirpy voices calling out hello!

They bring me cards with ponies painted on them and sweet, sweet messages for me to take home. I open the refrigerator. It’s all that I have to offer. Don’t forget to take some cherries and strawberries! The youngest has an insatiable appetite for both. A fistful of red fruits, a wave, and a bientot! And joyfully, that bientot happens quickly, because they are back again and I see their smiles and the day is made fine by them.

Aurore and Olivier, you have such fine daughters!

And then there is Paris.

It is my last day and I choke when I think about it. The city where no number of days suffices. Here, see this and this and this! Take a look! And stop a while! Take a minute to just sip une noisette or a café crème -- because that one takes longer. Share a breakfast pain au chocolat with someone from the neighborhood and watch the sun pour honey rose colors on the buildings around the Place des Vosges, the oldest of the Parisian squares.

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I gave east Paris my last day. The walk was one that I have taken dozens of times and each time I like it immensely: from Bastille, through the Marais (with some museum stops, but gentle ones – nothing hurried), windowshopping, oh, all right – one little something purchased here – but so many things passed over, can’t spend, can’t spend.

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Yes, but the colors! Rose colors, rosé colors!

And there they are again, the roses of Paris, there in the garden of the Museum of old Paris, and in the garden of the Picasso Museum? No not there. Just art. Just art! Let me take a pause.

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Then, through the old neighborhood, on to the Centre Georges Pompidou, where everything is lumped into one scene -- the old, the very old, the new, the art, the French, the public spaces...

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And now, close to Les Halles, looking into all those restaurant stores in the back streets (Nina, you must stop saying Les-alles, there is no s sound before an “h”!)… (“they will restore Les Halles again, Paris will reclaim its arcades!”) and then I cannot stand it – ten days of not setting foot in a restaurant and now I break my rule because I want to sit at a sunny table and eat something, just an omlette nature, with salad and a rosé, not more, but ohhhhhh, is it good!

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Finally. I cross the Seine on the buffed up Pont Neuf to my Paris, the Paris of Luxembourg Gardens and the Odeon. It feels odd to walk through it without it being home; the bakeries, the markets – they’re not mine this time, I am a visitor. I have a different neighborhood that’s home – it’s by the River Marne and it is beautiful! But I remember you – you are my classic Paris, the Paris to which I always, sooner or later, return.

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I have a few small errands and then I know I must wind down. I know, I know, it’s my final walk and my steps are as they always are – up past the tip of the Gardens, waving to the boy with the flute, down to the RER and off, not toward the airport, not just yet, but to Champigny, for one last night by the River Marne.

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I am at the airport now, missing my own not-so-little daughters, happy to be seeing my family soon, Ed imminently, happy to be home.

But I close my eyes and think back… she comes in running. Her sister is on the doorstep too, smiling. Hello! Hello! And Olivier is asking – how was your day in Paris? Aurore is pouring tea… Misty eyed scene of Paris, the other Paris, the one of another family and the pleasure of sharing the everyday.

A bientot, for sure.

[If you want to stay in the coach house, or recommend it to a friend, look for it at here (it’s no. 00142), but please, only give the address to good people, okay?]