It is half past midnight on a Friday morning, and I am in Paris.
Paris is beautiful. It is true what they say about the sunlight here, it is unique, especially when rainclouds are hanging around. It is the center of a great and liberal society, the flashpoint of revolutions, a cradle of history, etc. etc. Paris has every kind of store, restaurant, sex, music, and entertainment
you might want, anytime, delivered to your door if you have ready cash.
But then so does New York and Tokyo and London and Berlin. And probably Moscow by now, if you are a plutocrat.
I am not a fan of cities. I understand the city is where all the great artworks and architecture and enginaeering and genius is gathered up. I appreciate that. Cities are nice places to visit, but I would never again want to live in one. I have trouble, literally, breathing in cities -- the air is filthy. There are more people everywhere, which means there is more trouble, fashion, excrement, ugliness, bullshit, and amazing-ness everywhere too. The noise stresses me. It is never truly silent in a city, not even in a good hotel, in a single room that looks into a garden. And so I do not often come to cities, unless I am on my way from there to some other rural place.
I came to Paris to make peace with an old friend, and to bring some artwork to a new friend. I will only be here for four days. It is a fine and sunny mission that brings me here, and I am seeing Paris with new eyes. I am relaxed. I am not staying in anybody´s house, so I can make my own plans and go where I want to go, and stay as long as I want. I feel comfortable enough with the subways and money, museums and languages that I can get around and get fed and watered without undue stress. (I am staying at a Spanish hotel, after all.)
Today I did my morning visits, and headed out after lunch to see Notre Dame cathedral. I was there once before, so I changed my mind once I got on the train, and instead went to Pere Lachaise, a huge Victorian cemetery on the wild and woolly eastern end of the city. When it started to rain I went back to my hotel, where seeing it was Spanish, I took a siesta. It was total holiday vacation for me, a person whose whole life, by some peoples´ lights, is a holiday vacation. Because it was what I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it, and when I felt I wanted it done. No one else to worry about or fuss over or satisfy, nobody to be upset when I changed my mind and switched plans mid-stream. Amazing how relaxing it is, being in no one´s company but my own!
Somehow I think women will understand this better than men will.
Still, nice as it is in Paris, if it were not for my friends, I would not come at all. If it were not for their knowledge of cheeseburger restaurants and Lebanese spinach crepes, the Leonardo DaVinci picture that´s only on loan at the Louvre through June, the sweetness and light of the smile on my godson´s little face... well. I would have to spend my life Paris-free. Paris would have to go on without me.
Alas, at least one of us would be the poorer for it!