Saturday, October 13, 2012

Comment? No Foie Gras for Dinner Tonight?

I think I might be going through some Paris withdrawals.

Like the stubborn cold I caught in my last day in Paris, the memory of my experiences in the City of Light hovers, lingers, even almost after a week later of being back home.  Since I have been back, people ask me if Paris was fun.  I don't want to be disingenuous and say that it was because it wasn't.  Disneyland was fun.  Paris, on the other hand, is above fun.

In most of my adult life, Paris has been a farfetched reverie for me.  I don't think there's ever a more coveted desire of Filipino bourgeoisie than to say that one's traveled to Paris.  I'm not an exception.  I studied French briefly three years ago reasoning that if I took that first step, the sojourn to Paris will subsequently and inevitably calcify.  I never would have imagined that one day in the imminent future, I would actually walk its streets, walk miles inside its museums, and attempt to order cappuccinos in francais.

I must admit, I sometimes miss the sound of sirens.  I miss that for a brief moment in time, I was part of the morning rhythm of Parisians mobilizing via the metro (subway), of being fascinated how Parisians LOVE to read their newspapers on the train and noticing how I'm the only one who ever yawns.  I miss getting lost because I got off one metro stop too late yet still convince myself I am city savvy and that if I keep walking, I WILL find my way, then after a half hour of aimless wandering, finally admitting that nothing looks familiar and that I couldn't find the Seine (which has served as my compass), and then finally asking someone directions in French.  I miss the dreary, cold, rainy Parisian autumn days.  I miss watching Paris wake up from a cafe across the laverie on a Saturday morning and realizing that this is the quietest I have ever seen this city of 2 million inhabitants.  I miss hustling around on a Velib (Parisian bicycle-sharing system).  I miss the sound of French conversation all around me; I miss having to try to understand and speak it.  I miss carrying a pocket map and a pocket dictionary.  I miss witnessing the Parisian population go insane over fresh baguettes on Sunday morning.  I miss the al fresco cafes, that, even despite the rain, still had patrons dining al fresco, all chairs (awkwardly) facing the street.  I miss the pattiseries, the foie gras and the pate' dinners.        

I found myself craving for French-style sandwich au jambon (like the one I ate while walking from Musee d'Orsay to Jardin des Tuilleries) and I nearly did cartwheels when I found still-warm fresh baked French bread at Safeway one afternoon.  My bedside read is still "Paris was Ours" ("Paris Nous Appertient"), a riveting collection of essays written by Parisian transplants and I appreciate that I could sometimes recognize the milieu and proudly think to myself, "I've been there!".  I made a calendar out of the photos I took of Paris and when I came to pick it up today, I dispensed "Midnight in Paris" (at the recommendation of a friend) from Red Box.  I popped it in the player immediately and nearly shrieked when I recognized the laverie (after the cafe has turned into one) where Owen Wilson met Hemingway.  I did my laundry there!   

There is no doubt that it feels great to be back home.  The garden, surprisingly is flourishing, and the eerie silence took a couple of days to get used to again.  It is good to be swamped at work because then, jetlag didn't even get the chance to rear its head.

Tonight, I ponder if Paris was everything I have ever imagined.  I think not because my imaginations had no tangibility and everything my brain could have churned could not even touch what I've experienced.

Was it fun?

No.  Let's just say Paris is indelible.

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