Paris

Paris, dinner party

Ambulance sirens and graffiti thicken upon approaching Paris.

I’m staying in the attic of Hugo and Jon’s uncle’s house. Their cousin Clément and his girlfriend Sylvia are living here currently. The place is a dream. You can tell the family has been here for a long time. The walls are insulated by paintings and piles of books. There are two floors, the attic, and a basement filled with aquariums, all connected by creaky spiral staircases. A friendly cat lives in the garden and apples fall from the tree when the wind blows.

We barely have time to throw back some Indian tonic before walking to the top-floor flat of another cousin. A table on the balcony is set for dinner. More food and alcohol keep arriving to the table. Everyone speaks a little English, so I don’t feel too excluded from the conversation. They laugh so hard and often that I want to understand every word. Far below us, a car crashes into another. I get quizzed by a French nationalist who (playfully?) wants to pin me as a dumb American. Thankfully, I know Sarcozy from Hollande and the corresponding scandals. They know more about American TV than me.

Several blocks away, another complex is on fire, plumes of black smoke snarling against the twilight. They are reasons to cringe, but we have so many distractions. Cocktails, olives, roasted black-eyed peas, salad, curry, baguette, chocolate, espresso, wine, rum, strawberries, cheese…

Paris, tourisme

Sunday mornings are for flea markets. The first one is typical, with vendors hawking the costume jewelry of deceased grandmothers. I leave with a yellow pleated sundress for €5.

The next market has an amazing assortment of antique and mid-century furniture. I feel like I’ve died, been mistaken for Jane Aldridge’s mom, and gone to heaven. There’s even a shop tucked into a corner that’s full of vintage Chanel and other designer clothing. I spot a white leather Versace motorcycle jacket that makes my knees shake. I nearly try on an ancient Dior dress, but the price tag has too many digits for me to risk breaking a zipper. I settle for a few vintage postcards.

I hope I never make enough money to afford all the taxidermic animals I want.

After a “quick lunch” (I learn there is no such thing in France), we’re ready to take the metropolitan downtown.

From the city’s intestines I climb out, into the blitz of it, hoping for vin, vie, and verisimilitude.

Here comes the double entendre: I could get lost here…

My obligatory Eiffel Tower portraits turned out completely bleached. We’ll call it artistic.

How long can anything in the world be beautiful before the pickpockets and cotton candy arrive? Still, the Eiffel Tower is magnifique. The neighboring museum hosts an exhibit of great architecture spanning the ages.

Some statues were like…

Then I was like…

And then we high-fived.

On the Champs-Elysees, a small glass of soda costs about $7. There aren’t many shops I desire to visit or can afford. Judging by the line, everyone has the same idea: Save your money for a box of pastel macarons from La Durée.

Along the Seine, a few couples sit with picnics (some with wine and sushi, others with beer and Pringles). Small apartments overlooking the admittedly beautiful river of mostly sewage go for about €2,000 a month. I stare into the murk and wonder what it would be like to call Paris home. What would you pay to have your real life and all its monotonous moments framed by famous stuff and caught in tourists’ frames?

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