August 7, 2009

Evolution of an Evening

One of the things that happens here, that doesn't happen quite so often at home, is the accidental social event.

Last night we dropped by a friend's place, where we will be staying later in the month, to meet the woman who is there now and sort of get the lay of the land.

We parted company five hours later.

It was innocuous enough: we came in off the street rather warm and she offered us something to drink. Some Rose? Some red wine? Water? Orangina? We opted for Rose, and after taking a brief tour around the apartment, we sat down to chat and drink and have some nibbles. (All good Parisian hostesses offer a little something with the wine.) We finished the Rose and moved on to the Cahors. By the time we finished that bottle, (effortlessly, I must say), I looked at the clock, saw it was 9:30 p.m. and decided we should probably eat something.

We had a change of venue to the brasserie down the street and settled in for more conversation. That's the other thing: you get to meet some fascinating people out here. This woman, with whom I have several friends in common, graduated from the same University as I did. Her husband worked at the IHT a few years before I arrived, but it is her tale that is most interesting. She initially wanted to cover Latin American affairs at the Miami Herald back when women didn't really do that. She got a Ph.D in International Relations so she could do it, and still they were reluctant.

Many cities and university professorships later, she is teaching journalism in Abu Dhabi. How's that for a grand adventure?

We both ordered moules frites, one of several things on my must-eat-when-I'm-back-in-Paris list, Paul ordered a salad, and we talked for another two hours.

That's the fun of it -- we thought we'd stop by to check out the wi-fi connection, and closing in on midnight we were on the Metro back to the Marais. We didn't overstay our welcome, or impose on her plans ... it just sort of evolved, as things like that so often do here.

Accidental social event indeed.

August 5, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle

We were invited for dinner tonight, to the apartment of friends who live in the 7th, mere blocks from my old stomping grounds. While I'm enjoying the variety of a new quartier, I really do miss the 7th and its wide boulevards, numerous trees and open spaces.

Dinner was nice, Nicola made a tarte aux pommes avec confit de canard (apple tart with shredded duck) and I got to see one of my favorite kids in the world -- her son Luke. We also were introduced to her new son, Ben.

On the way back to the metro, as we were crossing a street I looked up and saw the Eiffel Tower twinkling. This is the first time since we've been back that I've seen it -- lit up or not. My heart thrilled. All these years later and I still love the Eiffel Tower.

It doesn't hurt, either, that Paul proposed to me underneath it, and as it was twinkling. So I don't mean to be all sappy, but it was definitely pretty cool. If I see it another hundred times in my life I won't ever tire of it.

LAT Update

The woman house-sitting for us in Long Beach e-mailed to tell us the Los Angeles Times called, and asked if we would subscribe -- for 50 cents a week.

Because she answered the phone, and not I, she said "No, thank you." Were it I who received the call the answer would have been: "I would pay you $4 if you could get it to my door."

But you all know that already.

Ah, Paris

We're actually here and I think sometimes, maybe you can go home again.

I've got this strange dilemma: Paris-Long Beach, Long Beach-Paris. They are two very different places, and offer me two very different things. But I'm equally at home in both of them, for now, and glad to leave one for the other, if only temporarily.

Tuesday evening, once we had settled into our Marais apartment (ok, Liz's Marais apartment -- and for those of you wishing to visit Paris, I highly recommend her place.) We went to the ATM, went to the grocery store, found out one of my favorite bakeries is open the whole month! And then we strolled over to the Ile St Louis.

We were hanging out on the quay, enjoying the magnificent weather, watching people line up for Berthillon ice cream (and did I have my camera? sadly, no). The summer flavors are here: peche de vigne, fruit de la passion, fraise de bois, pamplemousse. Each mouthful offers an amazing flavor burst that's hard to describe. You can tell that the flavors are only offered in season, and made from real fruit.

Afterward, revelling in the still-light sky at about 9:30 p.m., we met up with a great friend of mine, and had some wine and Badoit and good conversation. She and Paul got into a really good discussion of philosophy, of all things, and that was sort of their point: She could name a half dozen well-known philosophers, he none. And how that was a cultural thing.

When we finally went to sleep, I marveled at how I could be in one of the noisiest quartiers in the city, yet it was silent outside because we're within the courtyard -- no sirens or cars or people like in Long Beach.

We have more to do today -- find me a sim card for the cell phone, head over to the Luxembourg Gardens so Paul can run, meet up with friends for dinner.

And so much to enjoy.