Saturday, June 15, 2013

Letting Go

I have been thinking a lot about my "Paris transformation" and how I have changed over ten years and eight trips.  It's a dream come true to be 36 years old and living here for an extraordinary nine weeks.  When I left Paris the first time in 2003, I hoped to return for my 40th birthday.  Now I can't imagine going a year without Paris or a future for Chris and me where we don't spend our lives together here.

My first several trips to Paris were spent running around the city, following maps and trying to force myself to like things that didn't mean anything to me.  I felt guilty coming here and not waiting in line to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  I always had multiple itineraries running through my head and drove Chris crazy with my guidebook suggestions. I was constantly worried that we were missing something.  It has only been through Chris' example that I have learned to slow down, to let moments happen and to appreciate Paris' subtleties.

My biggest concerns about being here on my own were that I wouldn't be to suspend myself in the moments or appreciate the details of this beautiful experience.  A slightly lesser concern was that I would do nothing but walk up and down the Champs pausing only to stare into the windows of LV.

Today I split my time between two markets: Marché Saxe-Breteuil and an antiques market taking place at Place Saint-Sulpice.  I wasted hours browsing through both and being charmed by the merchants.  I tried on vintage scarves, bought ruby red strawberries, and sampled wine.  Then before dinner, I crossed Pont d'Alma and went for a walk on the Champs.  It was manic and I got frustrated with myself for not being able to enjoy the experience.

I feel somewhere in between a local and a tourist.  I never want to forget, or not appreciate, the things that made me first fall in love with Paris but I am definitely happiest on a side street, struggling through a French conversation, and letting the moment embrace me.

Amidst the Champs' craziness, Veterans preparing to lay wreaths at the tomb of the unknown French soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe.  This is done every night at 6:30.
Salut les caprins...

At the entrance to Marché Saxe-Breteuil was a well-dressed man standing next to a small, square red cart that had an edged enclosure on top.  In the enclosure stood two baby goats, white with brown spots, chewing happily on the end of a stale baguette.  He offered me, for 1 euros,  what looked like a candied cigarette butt to feed the goats telling me they would love it.  Non merci!

Market lunch...

I arrived at the antiques market around lunchtime.  While the vendors were friendly they were also very involved with their lunches.  Unpacked from picnic baskets and plastics bags,  I saw bottles of wine , baguettes, prosciutto, olives, beautiful leafy salads and tartes de pomme. I shouldn't have been so surprised as they are selling chandeliers and Cartier diamonds.  Not really a mini donuts and hot dogs kind of fair.

Finally some blue sky!

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