Friday, July 25, 2014

Nostalgia sets in...while sitting in a café

Nostalgia sets in. I think it's because I am not here with both kids. My life in France reaches back through the decades but the past 5 years have forged new memories as a family. I started coming to France 40 years ago - does that tell my age? First in high school, then studying as an undergrad in the south. I returned and did my entire Master's degree in French Lit at Paris lll in the 80's. And then returned and went to design school at ESMOD, Duperré, and worked for designers then started my own line here. We did shows in weird clubs, collected our press clippings, showed in museums and appeared on silly TV shows. My battery of French friends includes those that I made 25 years ago. We have stories of crazy nights, crazy clients, crazy relationships. I sometimes walk down a street and I know that I went to a party in a certain building many years ago. Or stayed up all night in a certain club, falling asleep on the couches until the métro would reopen in the morning. I remember that cranky boulangère that would sell me my baguette every morning for 5 years running. The old woman that owned the gallery where we sold our designs was a Madame who housed prostitutes upstairs. So many stories... I can walk the métro and make the correspondance with my eyes closed. Why is this home to me? Evan asks me. I ask myself. I think it's because I always come back. I have lived in several different places since my childhood in New Jersey - I would leave them easily, sell my belongings and rarely return to visit. But in Paris, I know that I can show up with nothing and be back at home. The quiet, anonymity of the streets, the sweaty crunch of the métro, stuck for days in an apartment while it pours rain and even just hearing the whine of the sirens as they chase down an urgency - it's all comforting to me. Do I run off to see the Eiffel Tour? - no, but I relish that I can see it over the rooftops of my classroom. This morning Ana asked me "What is this place? - we are constantly skinny by eating bread & cheese and anything else we want. We can buy a bottle of rosé for 4€ that is better than the bottle for 8. We are happy in the rain. We have planes flying overhead shooting out red, white and blue exhaust. - It's like Disneyland." Ha! And then there is the bureaucracy, the red tape, work happens slowly - if ever. People don't listen, don't pay attention...I lived in Paris illegally for years - working the system, under the radar. You can't really do that now. But it's ok: I am making new memories. I am 10 and 2 now. 10 months in the states while the school year unfolds. 2 months in France while I teach and we live here. Creed is lonely this summer without Zelda. We go to the park and he plays alone. We laugh and remember how Zelda loves the elevators and escalators at the Pompidou or the woman at the Marché aux Puces who lets her dig through the piles of beads and buttons. Creed, Zelda and I have our little ritual of going to a café and what we would order - Zelda with her IPod headphones and her milk/water with a straw. We secretly laugh when we remember how she bonked the old woman in the métro with her long white cane and we would delight in every time someone would give the kids something for free. They are growing up here. We have photos from every summer - even the first year when Zelda had a seizure and had to spend the night at Trousseau. They have been buying fabric with me here for years now and they also have their favorite restaurants and parks. Do I hope they will continue to love it and think of it as home as I do? Of course - but then I have to remember that my children are not me. They have their own likes, dislikes and will start to formulate their own experiences. I want to continue to give them as much as we are able until decidedly they reject our options and plans... aside from love, protection and guidance...that's all I've got. Bonne journée.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Paris - year 4. 2014.

Zelda went through 11 surgeries in 3 months and is getting stronger every day with her Dad in Austin. I miss her with each step we take this summer as the past 4 years have seen the twins growing up in Paris. Creed and I have been here since the end of June with Ana, my assistant and good friend, in a lovely loft in the Marais. The first week of my teaching post ended this Friday. It is the 13th of July - the night before Bastille Day. Traditionally, there are "les Bals des Pompiers" in each neighborhood. The "Fireman's Balls" are held the night before 'le 14 juillet' and everyone comes out to dance all night in celebration. It is quiet tonight. There has been rain all week - all day today. It is the finale of the World Cup and people are inside glued to their televisions. Creed and I took a walk around the Marais tonight, as it doesn't get dark until 10:30pm. It was quiet except for the men from the gay bars spilling onto the streets. There was a drunk dressed in a leopard tank top and athletic shorts with many empty bottles of wine, singing on the street in front of the local school - he reminded me of Richard Simmons and Creed took his picture. The air was damp but pure in a very strange way. People were calm and and the music was thumping. Tomorrow we will awaken to go down to the Seine and watch the jets fly overhead - the exhaust trailing in red, white and blue - before the militaires start their parade down the Champs Elysees. Dinner with friends that evening followed by a crazy attempt to see the fireworks from the ridge of Montmarte looking out over the city from the steps of Sacre Coeur. Bonne nuit.