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Monday, December 05, 2005

c'est la vie

My mother has come and gone.

She met me in Cafe de la Paix in la Place d'Opera, where the bus from the airport would drop her off. When she found me I was busy befriending the Irish bartender and my old friend Jack Daniels. My heart stopped when I saw her, standing with her suitcase, calling my name from a distance. I jumped out of my seat and ran towards her with open arms.

Soon she was seated at the bar beside me. Together, it seemed like we could finally breathe again, until my mother reached into her bag. Her wallet was gone. "A woman bumped into me on the bus," she said, "it wasn't natural. I know she took it."

I paid our bill and soon we were down in the metro. Two violins played sadly in the background as my mother left a frantic message on the answering machine for my father. "Cancel the credit cards, my wallet is gone." She had three credit cards and three hundred euros in her wallet.

On the metro home my mother sat stunned, with watery eyes, while a man in our car pulled out puppets which he made sing to opera music. I stared at my mother, smiling in sympathy, while the dramatic music played to the drama of our lives.

The night was spent running to phone booths in the cold-my cell phone is broken-cancelling credit cards, and trying to find a police station. We found out that the woman who stole her wallet had spent 3000 euros that night, within minutes of the theft. The police station was closed that night, but we made it the next day, and a police report will insure that this money will get back to my mother.

We had planned to relax the few days she was here. But our nerves were shot. I couldn't sleep at night, took on a cold, threw up my dinner one evening, and missed my period all together because my stress level was shooting up so high.

But I still had my mother. And we walked through the streets of Paris, arm in arm, like we'd dreamt about for so long. She bought me a winter jacket so I wouldn't freeze. We ate well. We had creme brulee her last night here, in a restaurant called Les Philosophes.

She held me one morning, when I came out the shower crying, my hair wet and a towel around my body. I was running off nothing, wanting to show my mother a good time, and afraid of the lifeless bitch my sleeplessness had made me. I was tired of running. Tired of nothing working. My body wasn't working, my emotions were a mess, my mother was robbed, and my cell phone and camera were broken. It felt like nothing was allowed to go right.

I took my mother to the train station at seven this morning. She needed help lugging her suitcase, and seduced me with the idea of a petit dejeuner complet. There's nothing better than sitting down at a train station with a croissant, baguette, butter, jam, coffee and orange juice. So I went.

She got on the train, pulling her body after two hours of sleep, and sniffling from my cold that she picked up. I hugged her one last time, so happy to be back in her warmth, knowing I'll be joining her down South in a couple of weeks.

I left her and walked slowly down the platform, dressed in black, my tired eyes watching people run to the train, lugging bags bigger than their bodies.

I walked back down into the metro, the lights blaring down on the mass of passengers in suits and winter jackets. People rolling suitcases, holding briefcases, or stylish little purses. People in a hurry to get somewhere.

Things don't always work out as planned. Sometimes you have to push yourself until you're practically empty. But it's life. You accept sad truths, work with what you've got, and move on.

The past few days have been crazy, but I had my mother. We still laughed, danced, drank, and found warmth in the other's company.

There's a time to grieve, and there's a time to shrug, pour yourself a glass of wine, and say: "C'est la vie."

maman and i
Le Polidor


Blogger Charlie said...

Gillian, I had no idea how much I enjoyed reading your blog until you didn't post all week... I'm going to be studying in Paris in the spring and reading about your life has been the guilty pleasure that's getting me through finals. I'm glad you were able to make the best of things with your mom and those pictures are so cute.

1:53 AM  
Blogger tara dawn said...

I also have missed your blogs this past week. I must agree with you that even in the midst of the obstacles life throws our way, it is such a comfort to have one's mama. So many similar moments I have shared with my mama...just not on the streets of Paris.
Hope you are feeling much better!

7:34 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

just so you know, my mom also got her wallet stolen in Paris this definitely shook her up a bit, I think that the thought of any stranger taking something from you, in your presence, and you not noticing, is scarier than the actual loss!! In the end, though, at least nothing worse happened! (I can't beleive that that woman spent all that money so fast!!) Anyways, you look beautiful, not at all like the stressed out "bitch" you've been describing yourself as!

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You look so happy to be together. -Kate

5:40 AM  
Blogger baylor said...

Yes, C'est l vie. But we always do go on, don't we?

And you friend, do it with such grace! proud to be your friend. I am glad you got your "mom" fix. Those are always the best...

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Silvia Cássivi said...

Life life life...
I found ur blog when i was searching on Google for any 'lonely woman';i saw ur pic and asked myself y such young and beautiful person is here on this sad list?
Well,i was looking for a picture to use on MSN,i was feeling sad that day...It happens,sometimes life isnt the way we want but we have to play its game,dont we?
Funny situation: i was reading ur archives,not this updated post and i though u werent posting anymore...Now i know ure at least ok.
Hope things r ok there and ur mom can finally find her wallet.

I have a blog here on blogger,but i still cant figure out how it wokrs...

Anyway, all the best

11:43 PM  

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