So, by the time folks in the U.S. are waking up, and may (or may not) see this post in their feeds, I should be somewhere over the Atlantic, returning home to the U.S. after twelve days in Europe.
I spent the last five days with friends in Paris. My friend Tamara has lived in Paris for the past six years; she met me in Geneva last year when I was traveling in Europe for work.
This time, I went to her home after my work was done in Düsseldorf. And as a bonus, two more friends from California came to Paris. The last time we were all together was in 2012, so it turned into a mini reunion of sorts.
Thinking it over, I realized this was my fourth visit to Paris (in the past twenty years). And each time, I’ve become progressively less of a tourist. And the time that I just passed there was exceedingly special, and not just because we had an insider’s tour to the city. Or because I was there when Macron was elected. (Though that was nice news).
A good bit of the reason was because I got to spend time with both Tamara and Kris. The three of us forged an enduring friendship in our youth, when we all lived in Los Angeles. It was one of those things where we found ourselves at similar stages of our lives, and something just clicked.
The three of us are like sisters from different mothers. And it’s a description that’s particularly poignant, since we find ourselves again at similar stages now, in middle age. We’ve all lost our mothers recently—Kris most recently—and there was just something so enriching about spending time with close friends who know you and get you. And still want to spend time with you anyway. 🙂
Tamara lives in the 20th Arrondissement, in a lovely apartment that is amazingly quiet, and within walking distance of Père Lachaise cemetery. We spent the first day walking our way to Père Lachaise, and took a detour through the Petite Ceinture, a railway line that’s no longer in use.
The second day was rainy, and we wandered the Marais, shopped, and ducked into three different churches. None of them the BIG Notre Dame.
On Sunday, the third day, we headed outside the city to Crécy-la-Chapelle, to a special event at Le Moulin Jaune. A man named Slava opens up this property to the public every few months. On this particular Sunday, the gardens were open to wander, and it was a true “through the looking glass” experience. It was raining, and the damp only added to the chill we all felt. But there was borscht and vin chaud at the end, and we all left with some amazing pictures and a true sense memory of a very unique place.
Finally, in the time just passed, I had plenty of opportunity to reflect on my writing life. I’ve been on this writing journey for the past seven years, and was pretty quiet about it for the first five. But Kris and Tamara have known since the early days, probably since Tamara’s going-away-party when she left for Paris.
So it was nice to look down the abandoned underground passages of the Petite Ceinture, and say something about how it made me think of C.H.U.D., and not have my companions blink an eye. Or same thing, when I expressed how a gypsy wagon on the grounds of Le Moulin Jaune haunted me in a downright preternatural way.
My soul’s been enriched and my imagination sparked. Don’t think I could ask for much more.