(old one because the site stopped working temporarily)
I am leaving Paris once more, in the morning, from train to bus to plane to Berlin. Right now I’m at the computer downstairs, it’s a relief to stretch my fingers out over real keys instead of this tiny phone screen.
It was my intention all along to stay after she left, to go through the farewells at the airport and then return to the city alone. I wanted this… but I didn’t think about being left behind. I didn’t think about missing her. I fell out of love with this city through the melancholy: there was too much french, I didn’t want to get up in the morning, I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to stay inside. Then, when I moved out of the Luxembourg Gardens area, I didn’t want anything to do with my new location. The hostel wasn’t right, the streets weren’t right, I wasn’t happy. In simple terms that is the truth there, and I wasn’t, but I learned to see the charm again. Now I don’t want to leave.
Part of what brought me around was taking the time to take care of myself for a second, to put aside concerns of expense and to do what I felt that I needed at the time. So I found myself quite by chance next to the oldest tree in Paris, in the oldest english tea shop in Paris, across the street from the oldest church in Paris, with food and tea and a treat, a book and a chance to write. I felt like a whole new me when I stepped out some hours later–you’d think the walls had been lined with books. I begin to suspect that I am not satisfied with just wandering. Is it that I do not immerse myself? Were I trying to learn French while here perhaps it would be different, I would have something to occupy my mind while walking around the city. As it stands I have developed an entirely new interest in the founding fathers’ story, especially Hamilton. (Thanks Lin-Manuel Miranda. Thanks, friend who made the introduction to this unceasingly addictive music. You know who you are, if you’re reading this).
Then there was the Egyptology exhibit at the Arab World Institute, a collection of incredible treasures from the Osiris Mysteries, a suite of ceremonies related to Osiris and the Nile Delta. Pieces discovered underwater, some perfectly preserved from marine deterioration, and supplemented with items on loan from other museums. It is a glimpse, so small, of an entirely different world, a different people, that one cannot help but feel something when you walk through.
I certainly felt something to emerge and discover it was raining, and not just raining, but really raining. Hood up, jacket zipped, umbrella non-existent.
Today was the Marmottan Monet Museum, a diverse and detailed and oh so rich collection of Impressionist pieces, with a lower floor dedicated to Monet, with a whole section for Morisot, with so many others besides whom if I were more educated in the world of art I would as easily be able to bring forward. Van Gogh makes an appearance, as does Renoir, Cezanne, and there were two others prominent… a B… a V… ahhh but I forget. What struck me most of all was that this museum is not as any museum. It was once a house and as such retains some of the character of being not only a place to view and appreciate art, but to live. I felt I could. I felt comfortable there, surrounded by the beautiful furniture and paintings that brought me peace.
Dinner with friends tonight, and coffee yesterday afternoon with one. What rare treats, when out in the world, for me. Coffee was not, in fact, coffee, but a trip to another art museum dedicated to Debuffet. It is quite hidden, there is a green door and a small gold plaque, a buzzer, and a narrow courtyard lined with trees. A studio previously, it holds examples from his definitely varied artistic history, a style that is close to the “art brut” my friend informs me–art by those who are not generally considered capable. Children, the mentally insane, but he brought to the world’s attention the importance of this art, she says.
The dinner was a whole other affair. In the company of intelligent, literate, successful people of the world of poetry, painting, writing, theater, sculpture, philosophy. In the company of women who can talk about art, about politics, about the world. Women who are from the world and have lived in it, who speak with authority because they can, in at least three languages and without sounding at all pedantic. In the company of such women one can only feel, if not inferior, a strong desire to better oneself.
“No, I don’t speak much french anymore, I used to.”
“Oh that is lazy.”