Two Days in Paris

Posted on 26 September 2004

Two days in Paris. Now I’m in London. Strange how some people are afraid of travel, others are in awe: “You were in Paris? Now London? Alone? Tough life!” No sympathy that I had to lug a heavy suitcase through the streets of Paris, up and down three, four, five dozen flights of stairs in the metro, find a hotel I’ve paid for and never seen, catch a bus to Charles de Gaulle, arrive at Heathrow, find London’s metro (no, now it’s the underground), remember to speak English, find another hotel (booked again on the internet) without a map…I found it.

The hotel is alright, clean, firm bed, disgusting carpet. I can live in it for two days because it’s cheap London-standards – £39 but a small attic room with shared toilet and shower, though it is up six flights of stairs ( the young woman at reception helped me carry it up.) I’m not really complaining. Today, I visit Charington Cross Road with a young friend. Books, books, books (must remember the weight of my suitcase.)

I was so tired after finding my room and managing my suitcase that I went to a nearby restaurant that looked decent, called Goya, a Spanish tapas bar enticed by Rob’s reports of Spanish tapas bars and the “spicey potatoes” item on the menu. Fooled again. The potatoes were not spicey at all and this made me miss Paris, not that I ate at gourmet restaurants but the food wasn’t fried,was flavourful enough, and I could buy a pichet of wine for next to nothing. Not so here.

I woke at what I thought was a respectable hour – 6 a.m. – showered, dressed, went down for my English breakfast only to find that I hadn’t switched my watch to English time and was an hour early. I took to the streets, found where my bus leaves tomorrow morning (just around the corner) for what Rob calls my “transformation.” “Will you still love me after you’re transformed?” he asked. I am not feeling glib. In reality, though Marlene and Ursula reassured me, I am apprehensive. I’ve even thought – these last few days – that I’m a lost cause, not suited for this workshop, not ethereal enough. But damn it all anyway, I am fifty-five years old with my “course roots in the earth” and I’ll not let a little fear stand in my way. I’ll do it come what may.

What more can I say? I loved Paris and only had time for a taste. I phoned Rob and asked him to ask Helene if she knows anyone in Paris who would like to trade their home for one in the south of France or even Vancouver. A month would be ideal. And I phoned Gill and asked her if she would like to do some shopping in Paris for her 19th or 20th birthday (you’d think I was made of money) and she said “19th.”

Oh I did do a little shopping in this amazingly wonderful sexy city. I bought a coat because I was cold and the thought of a week on the English moors made me think it a smart decision. (Okay, I first asked my financial advisor if I should buy it or not, and Gill said “go for it.”) I also bought a cosy pullover, a gift for Gill’s birthday, one for Marlene’s, and had my hair cut French.

One afternoon, I sat in a small brasserie people watching. An older couple sat across from me. No conversation. And I thought, “dear god, don’t let this happen to Rob and me – old and nothing left to say to the other.” And then a young, elegant, beautiful young man sat down beside me. He spoke on his cell phone twice. Once in perfect English. The second time in perfect French. Okay, I was mesmorized. I thought of a friend who told me that it’s easy to get laid – it’s all in the glance that lingers too long. And I thought as I sat there, making sure I didn’t look him in the eye, that I have no desire for such sport. It would be more embarrassing than fun. I must be old because I think that good sex doesn’t just happen (or at least it hasn’t for me the first time new person.) Yes, it’s all in the head, I think as I sit there; but then again,it’s also in the hand, in the mouth, etc. etc.

(This was me in Paris -lily white, pure in body if not in thought. I smile as I type this.)

So tomorrow I’m off to Plymouth to the Moors and I doubt that I will be blogging again until I’m back in Vancouver a week and a day from now. What can I say? Wish me well.

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