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winding down

This is it – ma dernière journée. In honour of the occasion I’m bothering, for once, with the accents.

I think one of the reasons for my fug of the last days – besides mourning that now, the world is without both Sarah and Muriel, two of its most admirable inhabitants – is that I’ve been feeling a disbelieving, “I did it!”
I did it! Somehow I managed almost five months alone in Europe and am emerging much the richer. Not literally, as my line of credit will attest, though this trip, thanks to the generosity of my friends, was done just about as cheaply as possible, except for an occasional splurge dinner and mad bottle of cologne. There’s debt, even so. Don’t care. This morning, it was 13 degrees in Paris, though going up to 30 later. Summer is ending, fall is coming, and I’ll be able, as the cold settles in, to take my memories out, hold them to the light, and relive some of the beauty and history I’ve absorbed.
There’s a series of lists beside me: Things to do upon arrival, which includes beginning the basement hooha, getting in touch with U of T and Ryerson, buying a good cleaning solution for MacZine and scrubbing her faithful keyboard, and going to see my friendly neighbourhood bank manager. Earth to Beth: welcome home.
Then, What I loved most about France; what I would recommend to others about to travel there; what I appreciate about Canada and being home. My favourite memories. My favourite discoveries in Paris. God, I won’t have time for work or fixing things, I’ll be too busy filling in lists.

Yesterday was a big nul, and most welcome for that. I went to the market on the Boulevard St. Germain to buy gift trinkets, cleverly bargaining one vendor down from 5 euros each to 4 for some cute Eiffel Tower key chains, only to find them later at a souvenir store for 2. Sat having a grand crème at a café when who should appear but a former student, spending two weeks here with her family. I knew she was in Paris and wondered if we’d run into each other but dismissed it as just too remote a possibility. And there she was. By another amazing coincidence, we’re flying back on the same Air Canada flight early Tuesday. She’s taking my Advanced course at Ryerson in September; I hope the others won’t mind if we spend much of it jabbering about Paris. “Did you like Pompidou?” “Mais oui, bien sur!”
Don’t know how to do les circonflexes, in case you noticed the one missing over the ‘u’. I’m sure Bruce will write to tell me how they’re done.
I ate my sandwich, as usual, in the Jardin, finished “What I talk about when I talk about running” – an interesting book, some of it valuable, but you do come away thinking that he’s a lunatic to put his body through such torture. He insists that he’s not competitive; in that case, he’s the most competitive non-competitive person alive. And somewhere, there’s a faithful wife who goes to all the finish lines and puts up with his countless hours of training and his injuries. Barely a mention of her, and no thank you at the end either. She might not mind, but I did.
Mind your own beeswax, my father would say.
Came home in the heat – it was over 32 yesterday – and spent the rest of the day at the computer, going over the manuscript. Well, I hate to call it a manuscript; it’s 62,000 words of something. Wayson has offered to read a bit when he gets back from Australia, but that’s the most terrifying test; it’s not ready for that yet. I’m looking forward to actually printing the thing, seeing if any of it works. If I have to throw it all out – well, that’s too bad, but the trip was fun anyway.
No, seriously, I hope I’m coming back not only as a bigger person but a better writer too, and part of that has been this blog. Just reporting to you almost daily has been a valuable discipline and exercise. Let’s hope that fluidity can translate into a book. A new book that doesn’t take 25 years to appear.
This morning, I threw open the shutters to a chilly blue sky. Now, it has warmed up to a last beautiful day in Paris. Wednesday morning I’ll wake under the Toronto sky. No, THE PLAN IS that Wednesday I will wake under the Toronto sky. You never know.
Thank you for accompanying me on my journey. Please, let’s not lose touch.

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3 Responses to “winding down”

  1. Mary says:

    It's been a joy accompanying you. I've always believed I'd enjoy visiting France, and now I'm sure of it! Thank you!

  2. beth says:

    Mary, thank you for coming with me. It was companions like you who kept me company through the whole trip.

    I hope you'll come again. Who knows where the next adventure will lead?

    with best wishes,
    beth
    PS Where do you live?

  3. Mary says:

    I live in the outskirts of Rochester, New York – so, just across the lake from you in Toronto. As a matter of fact, I make frequent trips to Toronto, usually for theatre. Wish we still had the fast ferry so I could leave the driving to someone else!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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