Monday, September 05, 2005

Blackout


Paris and I are splitting up, and it’s breaking my heart.

Here, there is no clear line between day and night, but the walking pace slows from noon to two. I know what’s in season because it’s cheap and displayed on my vegetable vendor’s right. The lights at Beaubourg and Sebastopol are timed so that if you walk fast enough, you can make it. The place with the best baguettes is closed on Thursdays. If you need anything at all past one on a Sunday, you just can’t have it.

The guy on the corner of Rambuteau doesn’t ask for money, but he spits at your shoes. The newspaper vendor by the Pompidou is missing a thumb. At the late-night snack shop on my street, you’ll get a free piece of candy if you smile at the boy behind the counter.

The Four is the hottest line, and the Twelve is too loud for a walkman. Connections are never the length they appear to be on the map. The man who sings at Concorde is always flat; no one sings on the One.

Hard-boiled eggs with salt are displayed for the taking on just about every coffee bar in the city. Incidentally, coffee is cheaper if drunk while standing. It’s customary to throw your sugar wrapper on the floor. These are only swept up at close. And coffee is espresso.

If you don’t say bonjour, you won’t get served, and if you don’t say au revoir, the server will talk about you once you’re gone. Generally speaking, menus are for tourists. You know what you want when you head to the café; they all serve the same things.

Flowers are for Sunday lunches and wine is for Saturday dinners.

My apartment faces west, opens to a wasteland in the middle of the Marais. I can see the Pompidou, and the remnants of some former neighborhood that I like to call medieval France. A black cat naps in the middle of the grass, but only from six to eight. When the windows are open and the people across the way lean out their balconies, their conversations echo in my living room.

Tonight, the echo is deeper; my apartment is empty. Nicolas is on his way to help me with my things.

Wednesday I'll fly back to the States, my skin still steeped in Paris’s filth and splendor, but slowly, it will wash away. Time to move to a new city, start a new career, and look forward to my first visit back. I’ve already booked my ticket.

(Stay tuned for tales from Chicago...)

19 Comments:

At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Cassandre said...

Great summary and so true! Well said, Ema! And you're going to be in Chicago?! That's not so far from Madison!

 
At 4:13 AM, Blogger jkirlin said...

Good luck. I can't wait for your take on Chicago.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Euclid said...

I'm going to miss the Paris posts. Thanks for the window into your world.

 
At 9:36 PM, Blogger straightfromthecask said...

Have a good trip Emily.
May you remember good things from our town (it's easy to focus on the worse aspects).
Make us, poor little things, discover Chicago online from time to time.
A while ago I linked to your blog without asking, but it's just so nice to read ! The ransom of success. Keep blogin'.

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Empty said...

Ah Paris...I saw it for a total of 5 hours. Like a blur. Fell in Love with it in 5 minutes.

Best of luck to you!

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Sierra said...

It's sad you're going but that was a lovely goodbye. Good luck on your next adventure. :-)

 
At 12:28 AM, Anonymous MATTHEW ROSE said...

Hello and goodbye Emily... many thanks for the V by Pynchon, the Skinny Dip book, the cell phone (recharged apparently but have no idea how to make it go) and the stamp.

Enjoy Chicago...

Matthew

http://homepage.mac.com/mistahcoughdrop/

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Charley said...

Only enough details to reaffirm that I know nothing of Paris. For all I've read of your life en Paris, there's precious little left of the daydreams you've brought about. I rebuff myself for wishing my shoe spat upon, aware that I might never relish the feeling.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Its almost impossible to think. The end of an era is at hand. How will the citizens of Paris react? How will those of us who lived vicariously through you continue to go on? I'm sort of in disbelief, yet happy that you will be much closer to me. Adventures in Paris.... we'll have to go back together and spend time immitating pigeons in Place des Vosges. France will never go away, but it has been forever changed because of you. At least my impression of France. Good look my little schmoo, Chicago awaits you!

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Trish said...

Thank you for letting us into your world in Paris. I will miss your posts. This one made me cry. I want Paris!!! Good luck in Chicago.

 
At 8:35 PM, Anonymous ddj said...

Not so far from Milwaukee either. :) What a very nice goodbye post - the real test will be to see if those are your same memories a year from now. The mind tends to distill the best of the best. Good luck with the move!

 
At 9:14 PM, Blogger Buffalo said...

This is so well done!

 
At 3:07 PM, Blogger fre said...

i also left the uk on monday, and i probably could have written the same kind of post about the place where i've been living for 5 months...

can't wait to read you again...

^^

 
At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Brandon Gordon said...

I hope you enjoy Chicago - I lived there for five years and wish I were still there. I can't wait to read the rest of your blog so I can laugh knowingly at all the inside references I didn't get while reading about your time in Paris.

 
At 12:24 AM, Blogger Tony said...

Good luck in your new adventures!

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Bishop said...

Chicago's lakeside parks are lovely. Get a chance to spend some time around the Navy Pier if you can. It was the highlight of my family's recent road trip.

And keep blogging!

 
At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

This post makes me cry! Hope Chicago is going OK. Miss you.

 
At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

Emily, Emily, Emily. Fruit Flies? Really? How could you let this happen? But...the system...remember? We had it all worked out. Clean everything.

Anyhow, I miss you tons and I can't wait to see you again. Just so you know, my current plans take me back to Paris come June, so maybe I'll see you there on your internship? I can only hope.

Keep giving me something to while away the time please (even though Chicago is no Paris).

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Corey said...

I stumbled onto your blog after stumbling onto a guy named "D10"s blog. Your post was phenominal. You should consider writing some short stories. i would read 'em.

 

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