In these strange times where an invisible virus has the world on lockdown, since I can’t catch a plane, I thought I’d try and catch a bit of Spring.
Parting Shots … I will miss EVERYTHING —especially my friends, the streets, Willi’s — my restaurant and watering hole of choice these days, cozy cinemas, my neighborhood haunts, inexhaustible surprises (e.g. the Shoe exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs) and the energy everywhere. Bien sûr, having gym, library, grocery and department store cards feeds my fantasy that coming back is just the turn of a calendar page away.
Holidays Across the Pond … Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Paris — which is surprising because they regularly close down to honor saints no one, including Parisians, has ever heard of. On Thanksgiving Day I went with friends to a candlelit classical concert at the Institut Océanographique de Paris where we listened to a string quartet play pieces in the ambiance prevalent when most of the works premiered a few centuries ago. Then my friend Jocelyne, who owns my favorite jewelry store in Paris, threw a little holiday party in her store. She designs and creates the small treasures she sells, and we help each other with our French and English. I met her family and girlfriends and learned a little about the mystique of French women. Many American expats celebrate Thanksgiving on the weekend, and my girlfriend Joan puts on the ultimate traditional spread for an international group of friends and loved one. I walked past many Metro stops on my way home to ameliorate my food coma and enjoy the extra holiday illumination enhancing the City of Light.
Friends, Food & Fun — Longtime friends Helen & Charles in Paris to celebrate their 34th anniversary (I introduced them) — Lunch with new friend, Stanford anthropologist, Duana, at vegetarian restaurant (delicious food) — Girlfriend Joan Minor performed at her studio in a unique building converted from a factory into a haven for artists — Out & about with girlfriend Pat, her nephew and his buddies visiting from New York — And, bien sur, street scenes I can’t get at home.
Montmorillon is a magical medieval town in the middle of France that has been called “The City of Writing and Book Professions” because of its history as the center of paper-making and book binding. It is also where my dear, dear friend Suzanne, and her family, have made a second home. Her place on the town square is charming. The village has a typewriting museum and probably more Harry Potter-like bookshops per capita than any other town in France. There is a huge expat Brit community, a lovely, quirky tea salon run by a former Playboy bunny, welcoming locals and fantastic views all around.
I’m still writing (really I am) in between —visits to Fontainebleau & Barbizon with homies Mary and the lovely Nora — escargot with buddy Sebastian in Montmartre — introducing friends to friends over good food (finally a tender steak in Paris) — celebrating the 70th birthday of childhood friend Llynn Luke (who’s still partying like it’s 1969) — attending a Mendelssohn & Bruckner performance by the National Orchestra of France with friends in a stunningly beautiful concert hall (we shook hands with the conductor — of the NOF— at a bar —after the concert) — and to top off a 2nd & 3rd week of adventures that keep me smiling — a Chocolate Festival with over 100 vendors including a chocolate fashion exhibit (it took half an hour to find an exit and almost got scary in a Willy Wonka kind of way.)
Paris – Fall 2019 – I’ve returned to days of wine and roses, cobblestone streets, mashing with the masses on the Metro and the 67 steps up to my favorite apartment in Le Marais. I’ve bonded with a new set of writing friends who have roots in Australia, India, Qatar, Ireland, Iceland, England, Germany, New York and California. We gathered for a soirée at an illustrious bookstore and enjoyed literary talks in the Paris homes of successful, prolific writers John Baxter and Mary Duncan, who had stories to tell and wisdom to dispense. Daily surprises continue. On my way home from Woody Allen’s latest movie (at a cozy 30-seat cinema), tents and a fire-breather magically appeared where none existed 2 hours before. And walking to my favorite Sunday market, I was serenaded by an invisible harpist who filled the air with angelic melodies for street after street until I turned a corner and there he was.
Tripped down the coast to Monterey and Carmel-By-Sea, with a stop at Pebble Beach Golf Course**** Spent a morning in Golden Gate Park followed by a lovely afternoon with two delightfully erudite Frenchmen, Cyril and Louis, touring museums and dining on the ocean — saw coyotes and whales — ferried to Sausalito for lunch and a visit to Mill Valley.