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Thursday, February 16, 2006

the art of living in Paris

Paris and I are together again.

This afternoon I took off along the Seine to the Musée D’Orsay.

The air has changed since I left. The air that nipped at my fingers is now warm. Rather than snow and heavy rain, the city shines under a light drizzle.

Something about the grey sky today, and the smells in the air, brought me back to Northern Ireland, and then to Vancouver, and the days I would walk side by side with the Pacific Ocean.

As I walked along the Seine-the next best thing to the ocean-I thought back on how intimidating Paris once felt. These days street names are familiar, French expressions fall off my tongue, and posh Parisians no longer make me feel like a fat foreigner. Paris is home now, it's comfortable, and I'm more confident.

I took my time while in the Musée D’Orsay. I was most taken with the Impressionism paintings, especially Degas’ portraits of Parisian life and sultry women.

I love paintings of women. I’ve seen many portraits of curvaceous women lying elegantly on beds. I applaud every artist who insisted a woman take her clothes off so he could capture her, lying there, motionless, naked, caught in the turn of his paintbrush.

After my art indulgence I took off to delicabar in the Bon Marché for the art of espresso coffee. I chose this location specifically, because every coffee is served with a small gourmet chocolate, beautifully made and delicately placed on a separate saucer.

After my caffeine and chocolate kick I explored the Epicerie downstairs, admiring expensive foreign spices, beautiful cheeses, and selections of food from all over the world.

I left without buying anything, and picked up a few items at the local Monoprix, where a worker I’d never spoken to asked me where I’d been. “I haven’t seen you in a while,” he said with a grin. “I was in Ireland…” I answered. “You always come in a the same time to get your groceries, and I hadn’t seen you in a while.” He said, still smiling. I laughed and left him to pick out some produce, happy that someone noticed I was gone.

After making myself dinner I took the metro downtown. I walked the streets until I found a cinema playing a movie I wanted to see, and settled for a light romantic comedy at the Rex. There’s nothing more delicious than going to a movie theatre alone and seeing whatever trash appeals to me.

The movie had many intimate scenes that pulled on my heartstrings. Skin on skin, mouth on mouth, love sick memories came flooding back to me.

There was a moment when all I wanted was another pair of arms to sink into.

But at the end of the film, the two lovers separated. They realized they both had to live their own lives, and couldn’t do so with the other.

I took a deep breath and remembered how happy I was to be on my own.

I walked back to the metro, gliding down the sidewalk, and took myself home. Alone. Knowing I’m living the life I know I want to lead, as best as I know how.

gold in the sky
women and the world
flower child
buns of steel
street art
city apartment

"Nowhere is one more alone than in Paris ... and yet surrounded by crowds. Nowhere is one more likely to incur greater ridicule. And no visit is more essential. "
-Marguerite Duras


Blogger Raj said...


A friend of mine told me about your blog, and having just read this entry I am very impressed.
I normally would never post a comment, but I have to say that I was really moved by this entry. Having been abroad myself, I could identify with your experiences and thoughts.

It was a joy to read...

8:59 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Thanks Raj, comments like this mean a lot to me.

11:29 AM  

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