Last night, suddenly, I saw the modem box on the floor in the apartment begin to twinkle again, tried the Internet, and there it was. No idea how it came, all of a sudden, to work; it just decided to stop being mean to me, I guess. This morning, fearing it was a momentary blip, I turned on my machine with trepidation – yes! Connected to the planet. Another act of God.
I went back to the kind tabac man down the street to get my transit pass renewed and buy an “International Herald Tribune,” to find out what’s going on with travel. Anna and I will talk later today, but it’s pretty sure she will not be on a flight to Paris tonight. She may come later in the week, or we’ll have to rebook … for next year, I guess. Nothing to be done about acts of God. An article in the “Tribune” said that stranded businesspeople are actually being forced to relax, visit galleries and read books. An upside to all this. Another article pointed out that the last time this volcano erupted, in the 1700’s, it caused a famine which probably led to the French revolution. I wonder what will be the long-term results of this worldwide upheaval.
I have written to my bosses at U of T and Ryerson to make sure they have up-to-date phone numbers of everyone registered for my classes. I leave here May 1 and start teaching May 3. I’m sure all will be well by then, but just in case …
So nothing to do now, like the international businesspeople, but relax and enjoy the day. For me, it’s an enormous pleasure and relief to feel so at home, to do a load of laundry and hang it in the sunny window to dry, to go outside without my thick vest and GoreTex jacket for the first time since leaving Toronto.
Warning – the tedious groans of pleasure have begun. Yesterday’s – my first pain au chocolat, first chevre on fresh bread, first glass of Crozes-Hermitage, and then the big slab of tarte tatin for dessert – many groans. Not to mention Paris in spring, the trees, the flower beds thick with colour, the air sweet through the traffic.
As I wandered around the little Latin Quarter streets yesterday, I came upon a sign: “Here in 1921 James Joyce wrote Ulysses.” A thrill ran through me. A thrill also ran through me on my first visit to Monoprix, with its wonderful fashions, cosmetics and household products. Me voila, the shallow and the deep. Today, I walked down to the Jardin des Plantes, one of my favourite places, to find that incredible pink tree even more spectacular than last year – enormous and laden. Had my lunch on a bench there – yes, you knew it, a ham sandwich and dark chocolate. Walking through and out the other side, I discovered something new that I’ve been meaning to visit – a sculpture garden along the banks of the Seine. Another of today’s groans: strolling in the hot sun by the river, looking at modern sculpture, most of which, unfortunately, has been covered with graffiti, but it’s still a great place – with, just up ahead, the spires of the grand lady herself, Notre Dame. People were picnicking and reading, and the clichés are true – there were young couples passionately kissing, everywhere. Well, it is spring. It is Paris. Yesterday the Jardin du Luxembourg was so crowded on a hot Sunday afternoon that I could barely move. A park more crowded than Grand Central Station – that’s some park. The sculpture park today, unbelievably, has free wifi provided by the city. Oh, and a big sculpture by Sorel Etrog, who moved to Canada and created the Genie award statuette.
The Bateaubus leaves from there, a waterbus which plows up and down the Seine stopping at various sites – I’ll take it one day, what an inexpensive and extremely picturesque way to get around the city. There’s also a sign advertising free “sport nature” every Sunday from 9 to 12, led by professionals: “Gymnastique d’entretien” – maintenance gymnastics – and “footing.” Might have to miss that. I will be too busy eating. Last groan before coming home – couldn’t stop myself going in to the bakery RIGHT NEXT DOOR to this place, buying a little slice of Provencal pizza covered with fresh tomato and olives, which he heated up for me. Ate sitting by my open window. It’s so quiet in here. I am one happy and grateful woman.
Now 4.30 p.m., the sun pouring in, jeans hung over the window rail to dry, birds singing. I want to introduce this city to my daughter, but perhaps it won’t happen this week, this year. In any case, Paris and I will continue to make friends.