Monday, September 7, 2009

Before I stepped off the plane in April, I'd spent a lifetime total of about 21 hours in Paris. I flew in and out of Charles de Gaulle for that silly little walk I went on last summer, which meant a few confused hours trying to get a train to St. Jean Pied de Port on one end, and an exhausted night in a hotel room before flying out on the other.

I'd had big plans for that last night in Paris - figured I'd cram as many Parisian adventures into one afternoon and evening as I could. But I was wiped, my feet still hurt, and I already missed the Camino. Not even the pleasures of Paris could compete, so I went for a short walk that wound me up in Pigalle, ate a quick dinner, bought some candy at a convenience store next to my hotel and went to bed. It was a terrible hotel, everything painted turquoise and yellow, strange smells and unnerving scratches all around the lock on my door. I could have touched all four walls of my room at the same time if I'd wanted to, but I was too tired to care.

The next morning, on my way to the airport I looked into the shop windows and tried to imagine life in Paris. It was a Sunday so everything was closed, and I didn't have much time anyway, but I wondered idly, "if I were Parisian, would I shop there? Do Parisians wear hats like that, buy those throw pillows? Would I read at that cafe there, or buy my croissants at that boulangerie?"

It wasn't until about six months after I'd gotten home from that trip that it even occurred to me to come back to Paris, and since I've been here I've often wondered where it was that I stayed; where it was that I tried to imagine life in Paris, with only a nap and an accidental stumbling upon the red-light district to go on.

But back in June when my father came to visit, I was walking to his (much nicer) hotel one morning to pick him up, and noticed a small, sad-looking hotel with a familiar paint job.

It's three blocks from my apartment.

Turns out I don't buy the throw pillows, but I do read at that very same cafe sometimes, as well as the dozens of others on the same street. And best of all, that convenience store I bought cola gummies and Orangina at last summer is open late. I didn't appreciate at the time how lucky I was to be able to buy something in Paris after 9pm, but with a few months here under my belt I sure do.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this story. I too was only able to spend a short amount of time in Paris (less than 24 hours before taking the train to Italy, then another 24 hours on my way back to Ireland), and I didn't get to see much of the city at all. So, to remedy that I am arriving in Paris on Saturday with a friend and we are staying for a week in an apartment in the 3rd Arondissement.

    Thank you for this glimpse into your Parisian life!