In 1984, I flew off to Europe, alone. Scotland; London; then, across the channel on a hovercraft….to Paris. Ended up on the Metro, with way too much luggage, standing at the doors waiting for them to open at my stop, after four years of high school French NOT realizing the green button said: “Press to Open”…….
The train finally did stop…at the airport. A kind man with curly, raven hair rode all the way back down into the city with me, hailed me a Mercedes cab which took us past the Arch d’ Triumph and its biker gang holding court in front, getting me all the way to my hotel by 12:30 am – to find the doors barred. He must have paid somebody to let me in because those crisp white sheets never felt so good, nor that Perrier so worth the extra, luxury fee.
I was only in Paris for one night and one, solid day. Veronique met me, in the heart of the city the next morning. It was Sunday. We went to the hidden Gospel Hall in the narrow alley, then to a lavish, two hour Sunday dinner in the upstairs apartment of an elegant couple, who served cantalope wedges on a platter with tiny little spoons; au gratin casserole; thinly sliced roast beef, on a platter; and, a glazed peach tart for dessert accompanied by coffees in tiny, heirloom porcelain cups.
We grazed past the Louvre, which was closed (on Sunday), and found some souvenirs – an “I ❤ Paris” t- shirt and bumper sticker…..
The George Pompidou Centre was open – a Marc Chagall exhibit. The purpled punkers hung around, outside on the plaza, decorating the landscape.
We had very spare pizza, in a nearby cafe.
At dusk, the two of us went up to the roof of the Montparnasse, finding a young Belgian couple already there, he helping me to set the shutter speed so I could get a great night shot of the Eiffel Tower and the whole, illuminated cityscape.
Mum had given me the name of her French soldier pen pal before I left. She wanted me to look him up in the Parisian phone directories. I never found him.
Somebody on the news just said that flesh and blood have adhered to the walls of a building in that city, tonight. These feel like the end times, for the civilized earth. I wouldn’t doubt, tonight. I would not. This is why I told my brother I wanted to go to the country of our heritage with him in October. My niece said: “You can still go.” But, Mum never made it to France before she died. And, by this time, next year…..?
God bless all the children of the world. The crazed, the horrified, the unspeakably grieving. God, please bless Paris. ❤
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/15/15