Paris Deux: A Moveable Feast Posted by Hello

Paris Deux: A Moveable Feast
"That was the end of the first part of Paris. Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed."-Ernest Hemingway A Moveable Feast

Somehow in the months intervening between my visit in August and my planned visit in January, I became terrified of going back to Paris. It was inexplicable to my friends. "But you already went. How can you be scared of going again?" It was the same incredulousness my father expressed when I suddenly become needle phobic at 8. "I don't understand." He would say as I stood shaking and sobbing after an injection "You used to be fine." It is a singular talent I have to suddenly freak out about seemingly inconsequental things and suddenly the idea of Paris alone again seemed terrifying.

But then came my thirty birthday without even a kiss, and new year's eve. I had settled into the life of a thirty year old english prof. watching movies on the couch with my cat. Two of my friends Nutreena, a nutritionist who lived in Paris years ago, and my gay husband both insisted I go. And finally I bought tickets and reserved a hotel. Four nights in Paris. Returning the day before classes.

The night before I leave, I pack. I take out the little green bag that once held all I had in Paris for ten days. "How the fuck did I ever pull that off?" Even though I know it happened, even though I wrote about it, I have a moment of wonder.It doesn't seem possible, although I know it did indeed happen. I pack my guides and maps and dictionaries into a backpack.

The day of my departure my gay husband invites me out for a drink. He knows I'm nervous and so he wants to liquor me up for the flight. I have to vodkas on the rocks ( grey goose, of course) and go home tipsy. I sleep in the car ride into the airport. I check in and make it through all the checks without managing to lose my luggage. I sit in the waiting area contemplating the three hour wait until my plane takes off.

Alcoholics call it a "A Moment of Clarity", when suddenly you realize exactly what is going on. I had one right before surgery once. I lay on the gurney and thought "I am naked in front of a group of strangers...who have knives." I sit in the airport terminal and think, "I am flying to another country to see a man who may not even remember me." Oh sure, my friends thought it was so romantic. Just showing up in Paris like that, a quick phone call, "Oh darling, I'm in Paris!" But in the terminal I think, "This could possibly be the stupidest thing I've ever done." Oh sure, it is romantic, but so was Madame Bovary and I would really like to avoid dying from a mouthful of arsenic at thirty if it is at all possible.

And it's not romantic, it's pathetic. I'm flying across the fucking ocean for what? For a booty call? (Qu'est que les mots en francais pour "booty call"?) Not even perhaps. I am flying across the ocean to be disappointed in a foreign country? To be ignored by men in two countries now instead of just the one? How sad. How utterly sad I have come to this.

But I can't back out now. I am in the fucking terminal. My friends, my friends, are depending on me. They are envying me. They are hoping for me. I have to go.

Because Tired Always Follows Sick
(Bill Cosby talking about his mother)
(Please cue the opening to theme song to "Welcome Back Kotter" .)
Kotter: The first day of school is the second saddest in a teacher's life.
Horshack: What's the first?
Kotter: Pay day.
Ah yes, I have returned from Paris to become completely ill-tired, sniffly, that feeling of living underwater, sinus-y type of cold. And just in time for the great Ice Age of 2004. And NYU has fucked me over, because after insisting I was going to be getting the exact same textbook as last year, I come to work today to find A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FUCKING BOOK. So I told my class, essentially fuck this I am teaching from last year's book. I am going to photocopy everything. I am not NOT going to read an entirely new textbook in a fucking week and redesign my syllabus after taking three years to develop this one. Let me think, let me think, let me think, NO FUCKING WAY. Motherfuckers had ALL WINTER SEMESTER AND THE BREAK TO GET ME THIS BOOK AND THEY GAVE IT TO ME DURING THE FIVE DAYS RIGHT BEFORE I HAVE TO TEACH. Wait, wait, let me call my assistant. Dave? Dave could you come in here for a second? Yeah, are you sure? Uh-huh. Dave says Fuck You. So there. Fuck you from me and my personal assistant. Wait wait let me get my mother on the phone so she can say fuck you as well. And my riding instructor from when I was 13. I mean, really no wonder I get more piece of mind in a country where I don't speak the language.
Last night, it hit me that I really had been in Paris and I was overwhelmed with sadness. For a variety of reasons to be sure. But mainly it really hit me that I had been there. It was real. And now I here. And as much as I missed my friends, how I wanted to be there again (with my friends would be the optimal situation). I have started teaching my cat to speak french. Le mew, le mew, le purrrrrr, le mew.
indecent post forthcoming

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