It is really quite remarkable that a plane can taxi to its gate by 5 p.m. and I should be able to go through passport control, pick up a suitcase, go to the train station and be on a train heading for Paris proper by 5:18. I am determined to have some minutes in the city before it closes its commercial heart (it varies, but it’ll be between 7 and 8) and focuses on the wining and the dining for the remaining (many) hours of the evening.
I had worked for most of the Osaka – Paris flight, all twelve hours of flying along where Russia meets the Arctic Ocean and I feel in need of a break.
But if you really must know, I am also a little tired. So much so, that I dash out onto the street to take a photo of a café scene and suddenly I feel something smooth touching my thigh. Oops – the fender of a city bus that just misses running me down. Mea culpa.
So I will myself to be more careful. And really, I put the camera away. For the hour that I have, I don’t want to focus on preserving the images that flash quickly before me.
Well, let me at least put up a small handful.
...of a man tossing back his tie and taking a break in the Jardin du Luxembourg (this from the usual walk by the gardens from the train to the hotel):
...of a couple in a lovely resting moment, shoulder to shoulder. Near one of the university buildings (one block down from my hotel):
...of that wonderful vibrant café scene where all conversation (aided by rosé by the glass) flies with passion; or not at all – to be replaced by a snuggle against a warm body:
...of the blue sky, and the last day of August leaves:
...what the hell: we each have our culinary loves: of snails...
Dinner... I didn’t want anything complicated. I went to a place that I would never recommend because it is too simple for anyone passing through and wanting something more than just steak with fries and a salad. Me, I wanted a steak and great fries and a salad. This then signals my final break with Japanese food and really, Japan, too. Here, in this little neighborhood place across the street from my hotel.
I am not the only solo diner. One or two try to engage me in the friendly conversation you have with someone who wont mind companionship. The person closest to me takes on politics (once he learsn that I am American) and he talks so rapidly that I start off understanding only 75% and by the end, only 25% of what he is saying. I beg him to slow down. But he is so in love with telling me about his views of Obama and Sarkozy, and somehow, leading from this -- his views on his older daughters educational attainments (or lack thereof -- I could not tell) that I just let it go, doing my best to respond when I could make educated guesses as to where we are in terms of our back and forth.
And now I am really exhausted. But on what clock? It’s 10 p.m. in Paris, near dawn in Japan, not yet evening in Madison. I sleep briefly, too briefly and wake up to a dark world.
Outside my hotel window shutters are closed, the Odeon Theater looks like it had a rough night and needs the quiet of the night. As do I...
It’s 5:30. I pick up my heavy cases (next time I will limit the rosé purchase; there is no escalator down to the bowels of the train station at Luxembourg: schlepping things up and down flights of stairs was a lot easier twenty years ago..) and make my way to the train.
Goodbye Luxembourg Gardens... I see France is getting ready for a Lelouch film release.
Ahh, it’s as if I were still the young girl in Warsaw who watched her first Lelouch on the big screen (A Man and a Woman) and thought, in the way 16 year old girls think – damn, that is a great statement about love. I can still hear the line “L'amour est bien plus fort que nous...” (Love is stronger than us...)