The boy in the doorway looked too anxious to be experienced and the hunger in his eyes showed that he wasn’t very experienced at his profession. On The Grand Boulevards, there were far too many good deals to provide a steady flow of high end clients that frequent the Arrondissement Claude works in.
It was alarming to realize I was actually able to read the signs in the bookstore window I passed on Rue de Rivoli. I had gone on a hunting exhibition to see a controversial art instillation that was taken down, but rewarded by finding an English book store. I already had a couple books in mind but being on a budget I settled for one. Scarlet mentioned what fun it was to read A Moveable Feast since so many of the famously penned spots are still around.
Hemmingway proved to be an excellent break from the intensive studies on the Metro. An early chapter he writes in St. Germaine where a young women sitting nearby caught his attention. That now that he had seen her, he owned her and wished to pen a story about her, but all the ever came of it was a mention in the short chapter. When he submerged from writing, she had departed and so the bus passed the blonde boy in the restaurant doorway that I too briefly owned in a story here.
Saturday is traditionally my faire des courses day, which sounds much more romantic that “shopping for household needs”. The French have a different term for shopping for pleasure and I don’t warrant that use on my current budget.
Being a holiday weekend the city was quieter than usual and I took advantage of waiting in a rather fast line for one of my bucket list croissant spots. It was a good, but I can’t say it was the best. I’m not sure what needs to happen for one to be truly more memorable than another, but I will continue to knock them off, my list while trying the other Parisian fairy tales.
Without a car, my shopping is limited to what I can carry, and often I use a rolling shopping cart for the larger trips. The Metro is a bit over a half mile home, so going back and forth adds up in time and miles. Saturdays average double digits in the miles, which affords me the croissant exploration.
I skillfully managed to get a case of beer, several wines, groceries and a few new cuttings boards, before heading home. The remainder of the night I cooked, therapeutic after a long day of urban hunting. For the first time the food actually came out like I was back home, which is a major victory after well over a month of living here.
I didn’t mind spending Saturday night at home being domestic, I had treated myself to an outing on Friday night at Le Petit Palais. There is an Oscar Wilde exposition going on and the lines are not as bad on date night. The show was small and extremely popular, so they only allowed a few people in at a time to make sure the gallery was not too full. Reading his hand written notes was inspiring and the week of writer’s made me feel excited to get to the computer.
Wilde had a love of Paris like Hemmingway so much so that he is buried here. I wasn’t able to find his grave, considering the last series of unfortunate events at the cemetery. I want to go back but the last two visits have been a bit rough and I’m weary of more “challenging” experiences.
With the shopping, cooking, and obligatory studying complete for the weekend, I decided to celebration Halloween. Although it is gaining in popularity, Paris does not celebrate like the US and Ireland. Maeve, the new Irish student was overjoyed when I arrived in class on Halloween with candy making foreigners say “trick or treat” to get the tissue covered ghost lollipops I made.
Le Salon du Chocolat is a worldwide event held in the Porte de Versailles which in essence is a convention center. I scored a ticket outside for less than face value and headed in to more or less “trick or treat”. A couple hours later, I snagged one of 13 seats for a cooking demonstration presented by a Japan chocolate company where I was treated to try several savory dishes accompanied with chocolate. There are a few benefits to doing things alone, they often are looking for an odd man out to fill the odd numbered seat and I scored a spot at the following demo as well.
All Sainte’s Day is traditionally the first Tuesday in France which is why so many people left town for the weekend. Monday was just in the way of an obviously perfect time to take off. Traditionally you go to the cemetery to see your loved ones. The flower shops all over the city had been packed all week with big beautiful flower pots overflowing into the sidewalks. Gloria picked us up and took us to see George, Claude’s father. I couldn’t help but cry when I saw my husband break down.
The bells were ringing when we found his headstone and added flowers to the patchwork quilt of petals covering the city. It reminded me to be thankful for what I have. We then joined Marcos MH, and his mother to visit Raul’s grave at another cemetery father out of town. Claude missed his uncle’s funeral and wanted to pay his respects.
They were kind enough to drop us at a Metro on the way back that made the trip into Paris a quick one for us to spend part of the day wandering together and pretending that the sad events of the day had no effect on us. We opted for an early evening of champagne and Ikea caviar in bed with a Netflix marathon.
There is something wrong with our water. When we boil it for coffee or tea, there remains some odd white floaters that make me uncomfortable and we have started to use bottled water for everything other than showering. As a result, I guess we don’t drink as much water as week used too and I usually wake with lines under my eyes and refuse to believe it is an age thing. It is not the reason my head hurt, but I’m going to pretend I was dehydrated.
I had to go to school the next day, but Claude had the day to himself which he needed with a demanding moody wife. To my delight I came home to the oven we had seen at Pierre’s house.
He had run into Marcos MH, and one thing lead to another and off the went to recover the treasure. It was covered in dirt and grease which he couldn’t stand, so he spent the afternoon cleaning it up for me, and accidently broke one of the glass panes on the door.
We will not be using the oven for a little while, but at least it is in the house and clean. We still need a lesson on how it works. It has a tank and doesn’t hook up to the gas. Pierre will be here next month but hopefully we will get it up and running on time for Thanksgiving. Also a holiday not celebrated by the French, but I’m planning to force feed my fellow students with something American.
Gloria is one of 16. We haven’t been as good at seeing the family as I had hoped and Claude met me at the Metro to take me to another Aunt house for dinner. It was close to the best night I had had since being here. Walking into her home, I was inspired by the wall of Art books and paintings from floor to ceiling. She showed us around with a huge loving smile and the most amazing earrings I had seen since moving to France.
They switched easily between French and Spanish to help me follow along and I eagerly used my new skills in contributing to conversations. I was encouraged to paint again, seeing Jacques studio, and Oscar promised to take me to the flea markets where he finds antiques for decorating homes. We drank great wine and ate pate and cheese. I couldn’t be happier drifting off to sleep that night.
Did the chicken or the egg come first? Were my French lessons paying off or was my attitude getting better? My sense of adventure returning and the awe for the beauty around me, or is there just more fun to be had now that things are falling into place? I don’t want to think too much of it, it seems each step forward is followed by a half step back.
Tonight, I got to sleep with an almost functioning oven and the promise of several hours with my husband tomorrow. I don’t have school, and he will not work lunch allowing for many hours together. I’m reminded to stay in touch with the realness we felt in the cemetery Tuesday. To enjoy these treasured moment’s and honor them and those around us.