Sunday, August 08, 2010

from Paris: trip memories

[In anticipation of a long day of travel, I'm posting early, right on top of yesterday's entry. Whatever else travel does, it rearranges your writing habits.]

An article in the NYTimes on spending and happiness confirms what I have long understood about myself: spending on vacations is up there with marriage and strong personal relationships in contributing to a sense of happiness. Psychologists have noted that vacations bring about memories and these you savor with the same pleasure you reserve for the best things in life, even if, in truth, the trip you took had elements of pain, or at the very least – discomfort.

Still, as I walk through Paris, I am reminded of my last hours here in April: the time I opened my pack and understood that my purse was lost somewhere on board our last flight. I remember the tedious realization that I would have to replace it all and lose even more money in the process. If acquiring things with money doesn’t produce great amounts of joy, losing cash is really distressing.

I wonder if I’ll forever recall the unfortunate veal kidneys from this trip and whether someday they'll make me smile.

But, who am I kidding – I love all my memories of trips taken, with a passion. Though I would do some things differently were I to redo them, as Ed, in a moment of unusual reassurance last night, tells me -- if I make no mistakes then I am not living adventurously enough. (I called Ed no fewer than six times to add tips on how to show my condo today. He took it all in stride.)

Sunday morning. If yesterday I arrived to empty morning streets, today I walk back to the RER station through a city that feels even more unnaturally quiet.

Up the block, with a final glance back at my hotel (the same one where nearly five years ago Ed commented – I never knew you could hear people’s footsteps outside in a city) – the one with the geraniums in windowboxes...


And then, across to the park – noting how the poor chestnuts are having a bad run of it in so many cities of Europe...


I have time to walk through a corner of the Luxembourg Gardens and that’s good. I like seeing them in its waking moments, when benches and chairs are scattered and empty.


A quick look and then I’m off to the chaotic Charles de Gaulle airport. I find a quiet corner even there and take out my computer to do some work. But only after I take the time to reconsider some of this trip’s good moments.