Tag Archives: Rules for Paris

Paris. {Always a good idea.}

red umbrella

The first time I visited Paris
we lived in Mexico.
From Mexico to Paris
is not just a flight
it’s a different freaking star system.
They give you a new brain,
a chic wardrobe
and as much cafe au lait
as you’d like
but only for breakfast.

I’d been reading for months,
learning the rules:
1. Always say “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” when entering a shop.
2. Do not pick up items in stores. {This includes everything from sweaters to oranges.}
3. Move quickly and in the correct direction in the Metro.
4. Be aware of scams and thieves.
5. Dress nicely for the butcher. {That means everyone.}

You see, I’d never been to Europe.
I wanted to be
an expert.
Later, rule number four would prove useful
in Barcelona. And in Japan,
all these rules have proved helpful
except number four
which is simply
not relevant.

In the onyx light of early morning
our taxi sped from Charles de Gaulle
to the 7th Arrondissement
{a word that has taken me a decade to master}.
As the squat houses of the suburbs clicked over
we travelled back in time. I awoke
outside our hotel, surrounded by six-storey Haussmann.
I cried.
DP said, “It’s okay. You’re just tired.”
But it wasn’t that.
It was the beauty.

From the window of our room,
the street told a story
like a movie.
A woman in a red peacoat
and black rubber boots
carried a brown paper bag
filled with long loaves of bread.

A green wooden box of red geraniums
hung below our window.

As we descended the stairs
into the metro at Ecole Militaire,
I reached for DPs hand.
People hurried in both directions
and the tile-covered walls pulsed
like a heart.
Light yellow tiles
like lemonade
or butter on toast.

At a cafe, a small girl with excellent posture
and a green velvet jacket sat with her mother
and two aunts frosted in silk scarves
and impeccable ponytails.
They let her pour the hot chocolate
into their white porcelain cups.

The Mona Lisa was not smaller than I imagined.
{I’d done my research.}
I was not fully prepared for her smile,
the pull of it, how I’d seek her out
again
in that too-warm room
where the guards kept
an eye
on our attachment.

Under the lights of the Eiffel Tower
we ate chocolate crepes
and took photos
of the carousel blur,
cotton candy pink horses
and their small riders.

The airport shuttle showed up
on time
sleek + white + alien.
We drove around the city
plucking other travellers
out of their dreams
and vacations.
We crossed a bridge.
It was raining.
I cried.

Paris, I think,
is a woman’s city.