I’ve arrived in Paris, after a quick 3-hour hop across the last of the Atlantic from Iceland. I landed around noon at Charles de Gaulle and smiled to see that nothing has changed there at all. I swear the tiles must be the same as the ones they laid down during construction in the late 60’s, and the Jetsons-style moving escalators and air-bubble walkways are perfect little windows of nostalgia.
I have high expectations of myself when navigating Paris—i.e. that I should have no trouble navigating it. It’s a bit of a tall order considering I haven’t been here in 13 years. And how the heck did that happen?!? Given that so much of my heart lives in this city, it baffles me that so much time has passed. Except, on the other hand, it doesn’t baffle me at all. Because things like this—Paris, my love for it, and my inability to incorporate it in my life—are part of the reason that I knew two years ago that it was time to remake how I was living in the world.
But I did well navigating! Got right to the RER, then made my transfer easily at Chatêlet. (Well, except there is no such thing as an easy transfer at Chatêlet—what a wretched station.) Popped up from underground at St. Sulpice and looked around the six-way intersection and knew immediately which direction I needed to head in. Passed the Rue de Rennes and the Blvd Raspail. Towed my bags down the rue Vaugirard until, hey presto, I was here! Up up up in the ascenseur and voilà! Home. I’ve not been to the Vaugirard apartment since the early 2000s. I am sure I was here winter of 2000, when Brendan and I spent Christmas roaming France and Italy. And I’m pretty sure I was here again a year or two later—I remember a terrible food poisoning incident from some bad lapin. The year must have been 2002 or so? But I’ve not stayed here since! It’s remodeled and gorgeous, and I feel so incredibly grateful to be able to call it home for the next three weeks, and to have this time. It’s a gift—perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime gift (though I hope not). I’m pinching myself.
It feels very right to be arriving here with the tiny BBHK in utero. He is, of course, the most powerful symbol of the monumental changes I needed to undertake; the decisions that I needed to make in order to open up the pathway for his arrival. Not that it is all about BBHK, it isn’t. It is mostly about me, and being a person who wholly me.
After I settled my bags I popped out to run a few quick errands. Tea and honey and milk for the morning, a stop at the FNAC to pick up my favorite little navigation bible, the Plan de Paris. I’m sure phones are the modern way to navigate, but I want to spend my time looking up, not down, and the Plan de Paris is my friend in that endeavor. Here’s the little plan for my neighborhood for the next little bit of time. I’m in quandrant M17 across the street from L’Institut Catholique St-Joseph des Carmes. Two blocks up from the Jardins de Luxembourg.
I had a brutal cough over my days in Iceland so I’m going to spend the next day or two catching up on sleep and getting better. There’s no need to rush anything. I’ll certainly have good walks tomorrow around the neighborhood, and maybe even venture a little further afield. But my primary responsibilities while I’m here are think, write, walk, and marvel, and none of those require me to go very far. I’ll wander to the jardins in the morning and take it from there.