Paris Diaries: Personal Jesus

"Now I know that everything watches. That nothing goes unseen. Even wallpaper has a memory that is longer than out own. It's not God in his heaven who sees everything, but a half filled ashtray, a wooden hanger, the statue of a woman named Niobe, are all everlasting witnesses to everyone of our acts." -The Tin Drum by Gunter Grasse

(Forgive the italics but something has gone hinky with blogger, and it won't let me use regular freakin' text. Sheesh.)

Despite my commitment to the me on that is on this adventure, I manage to get to pick up my luggage and get to my hotel room without major catastrophe. The hotel room, in keeping with my completely new adventure, is in Le Marais, a quarter of Paris which I have not explored. The hotel is located close to the Blvd. de Beaumarchais and the Bastille.

I arrived late on Friday night. There were all these little bars packed with people drinking and laughing and smoking. There are little Brazilian cafes advertising mojitos and margaritas as well as, of all things, long island iced teas. Even the restaurants with outdoor seating are still packed. Couples sit outside looking at some random side street while drinking wine chattering as if they are on deadline. Trying to rattle off the story of their lives before sunrise.

Of course, I've been up since 3:30 in the morning having gotten about two hours of very light sleep. I'm hardly in the mood to go out and pretend to be able to understand French while packed into a bar the size of a cat carrier. All I want to do is get to my hotel, take a bath, have a glass of red wine, and fall asleep.

My hotel is huge and luxurious. It is so large it has a long courtyard with rose bushes in it, and the walk to my tower, which was all the way at the end, seemed more like a trek (nor did it seem like any less of a trek when I finally checked out). I was relieved to discover that my room, however, was street side with a view of Rue de St. Sebastian, a perfectly charmingly little sidestreet with a restaurant or two, but mainly residental.Furthermore my hotel room was kitted out with french windows, which I opened immediately to let in the sounds of Paris as I took my bath.

If, or rather when, you go to Paris insist on having a room street side. It is part of the whole experience to realize how different cities sound. Of course wherever you stay in the city is bound to sound different. When I stayed on Rue de Notre Dame de Lorette, I was across the street from a park where children often played. This area definitely had more night life. As I put things away, I heard drunken singing in French and even a bottle or two break on the street. But as you sleep, the sounds of Paris begin to seep into your head. The change begins as you dream while french conversation flits into your room through gauze-y white curtains.

It was a lovely night, and so I stood in the window for a while watching people walk home from bars, listening to their conversations, the snatches of songs, the bickering, the angry click of fast high heels on the sidewalk, the slow soft saunter of lovers hand in hand, the sly insinuating silence of sounds almost heard but only suspected. In an apartment across the street a young man, dark curly hair-square glasses, is drinking from a mug and working on his computer. I look at him and feel some strange affection. For him. He doesn't know that I'm watching. Doesn't draw his curtains or even look out the window. Neither does the woman watching television in the apartment to the left with the giant stuffed parrot in the window. And for a brief moment I feel like the Oracle of Rue de St. Sebastian. I stand in the window obviously watching and yet unseen.

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