Getting There
I brought Hemingway's A Movable Feast for my plane reading thus breaking a near 15 year Hemingway ban. (I read Hemingway only when required by my classes after I was 13. I did read "Hills Like White Elephants" for my undergrad and grad courses, but not for pleasure.) My hatred of Hemingway started when I was thirteen. At the end of my freshmen year, our required core readings left us with two "free days" before the exam. Other classes watched movies or wrote satiric short stories. Our class, however, had a "serious teacher" who decided we would take those two days and read "Old Man and the Sea." What made this exercise particularly painful was the class next to ours was watching, for no reason I have ever been able to discern, Disney's The Little Mermaid. So while we are being lectured about the epic struggle between an aging fisher man and a shark carcass, strains of "Under the Sea" kept interrupting our teacher.
I read two more novels by Hemingway voluntarily. At that time I gave all the "great" authors three novels in which to impress me. A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls didn't do it for me either and thus began my aversion to Hemingway.
However, A Movable Feast commences with descriptions of Paris in winter and I thought it would get me in the proper mood. Of course, twenty minutes into reading I was reminded of exactly why I hate Hemingway and quickly abandoned his descriptions of afternoons with Gertrude Stein for the inflight entertainment.
Air France had a plethora of cinema choices so I started off with something appropriately mindless to match my sleep deprived state Cellular and then moved onto The World Is Not Enough and concluded with the very appropriate A Very Long Engagement the tale of a girl attempting to find her fiance whom she is convinced did not die in WW I despite reports to the contrary. The romance of the girl's quest, which (SPOILER WARNING) is rewarded in the end, put in the mind that perhaps I was not on such a fool's errand after all. But by then I had only slept for fours hours the preceding night and things were beginning to take on that hazy surreal quality that sleep deprivation can cause.
When I landed, I felt frazzled. I managed to get onto the RER, which was crowded, and find my hotel. But unlike the last time, there was no rush. Oh there was anxiety and I did manage to get myself slightly lost in the Gare du Nord, but it only took me an hour to get my hotel, which was in the heart of the Opera district. I checked in and was disappointed. My window had only a small postage stamp of Parisian sky, the rest being taken up with the back of the hotel. I was not, as before, facing street side and so the sounds of Paris could not reach me, even with the window left open. I became nostalgic for my last hotel on Notre Dame de Lorette where I could sit up in bed and see belle epoque houses and hear the mopeds go by.
The original plan had been to nap for an hour or so, get up, shower off my travel sweat, and go shopping on rue de l'opera then return to the hotel and call Henri, but I ended up sleeping for five hours. I woke up and dug Henri's number out of my bag. "I'll call him after I shower" I thought. So I showered. "I'll call him after I get dressed" I thought. So I got dressed. "I'll call him after I do my make up" I thought. And I did my make up. "Maybe I should call him tomorrow" I thought. And I sat and looked at his number, and I sat and looked, and sat and looked. I'm not sure what I was afraid of , but I was definately afraid. Finally I thought to myself "Listen, you did not come all this way only to pussy out now. If he doesn't come, he doesn't come, but it will not IT WILL NOT be because you didn't have the balls to call."
Je Suis Une Idiote.
So I called. At first he didn't know who I was. But then he recognized me and asked my hotel's address. I repeated it and the number of my room. And then he said "I'll see you later" in French. So I thought he would call me later. This is of course the fundamental problem of having an affair without a common language. Simple things like arranging a meeting are nearly impossible. I thought, honestly, he was blowing me off. He didn't sound very excited to see me. So fine, fine. I decided to take myself to dinner.
After the bustle of the day, I wanted something familiar. I didn't want to have to deal with wading through a new menu and acquainting myself with new waiters. So I headed to the Tiger hoping to have some wine and that divine apple tarte.
But the Tiger had closed and become a creperie. The No Stress Cafe, home of a fabulous steak bearnaise, was also closed. The only other restaurant I knew really well was near St. Michel and I was too hungry by then to take a cab all the way to the Clou de Paris. So finally I meandered in somewhere, starving and exhausted and feeling that perhaps this whole journey was a mistake.

Comments: Post a Comment

    This page is powered by 
Blogger. Isn't yours?