Bonjour de Paris!
Well here I am in Paris for the second time in my life thanks to a good old fashioned heartbreak. As I wrote for our sister site, Blisstree a few months ago, the only thing I’m truly good at is running away. We all have areas in which we flourish and mine is in leaving whatever is troubling me behind. I’m not saying this is anyway to deal with an issue, but for me it’s far better therapy than my therapist who insists on me “sitting with my emotions.” Fuck that. I don’t want to sit with my emotions and have a cry-fest in my bed, on my couch, while riding the F train, under a blanket or in my shower. This is the fourth time in as many years that I have picked up and left my beloved New York City due to a messy situation (with the same asshole each time, mind you), but it’s also the last time I’ll be in Paris for that reason. Next time it will not be because I’m escaping. It will be because life is about traveling and exploring, and if the mood strikes, meeting new people. I feel as though I have everything figured out at the moment as I sit here on this lovely rooftop terrace in the 16th arrondissement. But that feeling probably won’t last.
Just as I did the last time I ventured this way, I placed an ad for an apartment swap on Craigslist. One of those “my NYC for your Paris, s’il vous plait!” type of posts. As per usual, I got a couple of shady characters who didn’t just want to just swap apartments, but sexual favors, too. While I’ve always heard that when you lose a nail (read: a fella), it’s best to replace him with another nail asap, I’m not into accepting sexual advancements at the moment. Especially when I really just wanted someone to take my apartment for a month so I can get the hell out of dodge.
I finally narrowed my search down to a very sweet young woman who needed to be in the city for all of March to take an English class. I, needing to escape from NYC as fast as humanly possible, jumped at what was clearly a fated opportunity. My only requirement was that it was about a month or more. Ideally, I would have liked to have abandoned my NYC abode for a good 90 to 365 days or something impossible, but thanks to the U.S. dollar not being so great and the fact that I actually do have a life in New York City, more than a month away seemed like pushing it. Also my therapist said that anything more than 30 days might wreck havoc on my psyche (not that I’m listening to her anyway.) She’s yet to learn that this psyche of mine is pretty messed up as it is and change is not something I’ve mastered — because that would mean dealing with things, obviously.
So after everything was set, I swiped some miles from family members who weren’t going to use them, and booked a flight to Paris. I did not have to pay for a plane ticket or a hotel, and although I know I’ll find myself in too many cafes while I’m here, the things of which I’ll be devouring most are the items that we pay a pretty penny for back home in the States, but yet aren’t so pricey here. With areas like Bordeaux and Côtes du Rhône right here in France, I’m saving mad cash on my wine consumption. There’s also the availability of cheese and baguettes which, besides the occasional salad, are the extent of my eating — no one does bread like the French! Yes, I may have softly wept when I bit into my first croissant the afternoon I arrived.
Last time I was here, in January/February of 2010, I stayed in a flat in le Marais. I awoke to the bells of Notre Dame and fell asleep to the the piano playing of the composer who lived next door. The flat had been purchased by a woman with whom I did the swap, but since she had not officially moved in, it was very meager in its ammenities — actually it was a mattress on the floor and a desk. But hell, how happy I was! I was sans drama, complications and the expectations of others. I was free.
This time around the flat is definitely far different. It has all the comforts of home and even Law & Order marathons in French that I watched the first couple nights into the wee hours while I tried to get over my jet-lag. The terrace overlooks a narrow street and from there the sunsets are amazing. It’s not as romantic as a mattress on the floor, but the view makes up for it.
When I was here the first time I did all sort of touristy things (although this morning I did pose for that first photo just because I had never seen the Eiffel Tower up close), and while I’ve yet to see every inch of the Louvre, Versailles and those types of venues, this time I plan to be more low-key. I do intend on heading to the Crazy Horse to see the Christian Louboutin show and I’ll definitely be hitting up le cimetiere du Père Lachaise to pay my respects, once again, to Oscar Wilde (and Balzac, Piaf and so many others.) But mostly I plan to wander these streets, eat too much food and be grateful that I’m here. Not many people can up and leave their life when the pain becomes too unbearable. I’m lucky that I have my apartment in the East Village as collateral for swapping. It makes leaving town easier than if I were in, say, New Hampshire, where I grew up.
Tomorrow I will wake up early and go to Notre Dame for mass, not because this atheist just found god, but because I can. I might even run there, in my own way. Running, I’ve heard, is actually quite healthy — even if you’re not technically using your legs.