7.25.2007

Paris baby. Paris.

[At left: Paris metro system and La Seine river]

After such a precarious time navigating the passport system... I did finally get to France --- in spite of the fact that Newark airport closed down for a while on Thursday, hence rendering the connection a bit complicated. But I did get to Paris. I arrived about 2 hours late - Friday around 2 pm at the hotel ... Sofitel near the Eiffel Tower. Liz had been in the hotel for a few days already for work and the place was beautiful.

We snacked (for 60 euro, which is like ... 80 dollars) in a cafe on place Trocodero, then proceeded to traverse the entire city on foot. All the way from the Eiffel tower, along la Seine, through Les Tulleries, and then onto Ile de la Cite, then into the latin quartier for dinner. And - in one of my proudest moemnts, I rode on a giant giant ferris wheel with Liz. No, I couldn't really open my eyes, but it was incredible.

We stayed out late, slept in, and in the early afternoon took a TGV to Dijon, the small city where we lived in 1996-97 for our Junior year abroad (see photo of the cute town street with all the flags at left). In Dijon, we shopped like mad ladies (surgical strike, as Liz called it), drank coffee and wine, walked around our old hang outs, and then dined on this amazing place that has been totally renovated since we lived there 10 years ago. It was there that we met 2 Yogoslavians who took us out dancing.
I must say that that night I heard the worst, but most ambitious and misplaced attempts to hook up... "Toi, tu es comme Brittany Spears! Tu es la fille de mes reves. Tu es comme Monica Lewinsky! ou... madonna!"

Monica Lewinsky? Um... no.

The next day, Liz and I had pain au chocolat and cafe in Dijon, then headed back to Paris on the TGV --- mais, "Pas de Service!" (No dining car and no table service! NO!) "Pas de Service?" "Non... ce n'est pas vrai!" Si. Malheureusement, c'etait vrai. We got back to Paris, had a yummy lunch in a bistro and tearfully parted ways.

We'll be back Liz. We'll be back again for sure.

After the 48 hours of coaching from Liz's good french (she continues to have opportunities to speak in french through her job)... I felt ready to navigate Paris on my own. Sure enough... Ce n'etait pas mal. Pas de tout. I found my way on the metro to the conference hotel in the 15ieme arrondissement, met up with Rosa and we went out for a fantastic round of catching up and drinking wine on Place Cambronne, near our hotel. At about 11 pm (french time), who do we find? Bethany and Claire - also Annenbergers... on their way home from a fun night. But without much prodding... we did convince them to stay and hang a bit. At 4 am we were finally rolling into bed.

We conferenced all day Monday and Tuesday (which included my presentationwhich went quite well). Monday night, Rosa, Claire and I headed out to prendre une verre dans un tout petit cafe pres de notre hotel (have a glass of wine - or a few - in a little cafe near our hotel). Il s'appelait "La Place." C'est la ou on a racontre Thomas - notre serveur mignon (That's where we met Thomas - our cute french waiter). Suffice it to say that at the end of a fun night, we asked Thomas if he would be working the next night (wed).

"Oui."

"bon... alors.... A demain?"

"Oui oui. A demain."

I dare say I don't recall having been able to successfully flirt in French when I lived there 10 years ago. It's funny. I probably had a larger vocabulary - but I don't think that I had such a strong sense of self or such a feeling of how little is at stake in these situations. There is literally nothing to lose.

So, the next night --- Thursday --- we were back at le cafe. Back at "La Place". and there was Thomas. It was about 10:30 pm -- but he wasn't off work until 2. So... we stayed. Good friends indeed, Claire, Rosa, and Bethany.

Perhaps the best part of it all was how brilliant it felt to be with these amazing ladies again - smart, funny women who have known each other for quite some time now --- 6 years of graduate school. And now, here we all were - all professors all over the place Colorado, the UK, Delaware. And when we start talking big ideas ... it's like a carnival ride. We riff and riff and it's like a drug. So much darned fun.

I digress. Back to our french waiter: Thomas finished work at 2 am and after some awkward beating around the bush - along with my knocking his tray over and breaking a wine glass on the floor beneath his feet (idiot!) I asked what he was up to and he asked if I'd like to walk a bit and maybe "prendre une verre" - have a glass of wine. The wine never happened. Neither did a kiss or anything remotely similar. Instead, it was simply 3 lovely hours joking, walking and talking French with this lovely young man. We walked under the Eiffel Tower, stood at the edge of the Pont d'Iena. Talked about families, friends, philosophies of life. It was only the second time he had been to the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

When I mentioned that Young was my married name, his eyes got big -- "married?" so, I told him in 2 sentences what my situation was. He said it was so "triste" very very "triste."

"Mais, vous n'avez pas d'enfants?" (But, you didn't have any kids?)

"Si. J'ai un fils. Baxter."

Later on, when we jokingly discussed how he could come to the states to visit, I told him I'd take him to see all the Philly tourist spots that I never visit - just like he never visits the Eiffel Tower. He said he'd rather sit on my porch, have a little wine, and play with me and Baxter.

Charming, right?

Boy was his English terrible. Thank God I spent lots of time drinking in bars and speaking French back in 96-97. I knew it was good for something.

So, at 5 am he caught a bus. An hour long busride back to the 19ieme arrondissement to his apartment awaited him, but he wasn't complaining. What a sweet and wonderful night.

I went to bed at 5:30 and was up at 7:30 to get to the airport to come home. it's now almost 9 pm US time (3 am french time) and I'm stuck in Newark and have been since I missed my 3 pm connection to NH. I wont get to NH for another 3 hours...

But now? It's all good. I get to go home and see Baxter.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are fantastic.

karenle893 said...

Tu est incroiable!!

Anonymous said...

Tu est spectacular! (Funny how some French words just translate so well...) La smooch pour vous un la fils, Le Bax.

xxoo
J.

Mary said...

wow! could you have had a more perfect parisian experience? i'm so glad you had a great time! love and miss you!

meh

Don Montrey said...

I am tres jealouse. Merde.

-Don

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a great time!
Best, Mirka

Anonymous said...

Does it make you want to come back to Penn and go to La Petite Creperie? I was in Paris in June and made a bee-line for that place (in Houston Hall now, no longer in a truck) as soon as I got back. Let me know if you come to campus! My treat! A strawberry, bananas and chocolate crepe cannot be beat! Yum! Amy