Friday, February 26, 2010

Greetings from Paris

I finally have both time and the use of my husband's laptop to post about our trip to Paris. I look forward to posting photos, which should be more interesting than endless commentary on the places I've been and all the pastry I've eaten.... although I have to say that caramel ├ęclairs are worth traveling to Paris for, all by themselves.

I had a smashing entry into the City of Light. Boarding the RER train at the airport, very early on Tuesday morning, I tripped as I was lugging my suitcase (my old two-wheeler) up the steep step onto the train. I went sprawling, and my nose collided with an American fellow's suitcase. The bridge of my eyeglasses cut a small but impressively deep horizontal gash between my eyes, which oozed blood all the way into the city. I pulled a few muscles and discovered some other bruises, but the bright red mark between my eyes and some greenish and reddish swollen skin around my eyes and nose are the most obvious souvenirs.

This being Paris, there was no ice to be had anywhere to help prevent swelling. I made do with cold washcloth at the hotel. At least I didn't wake up with a pair of black eyes.

I've never been very attached to my nose; I think it's too big and I don't appreciate its shape. So I have to confess that, as it smashed into that suitcase, visions of a Parisian plastic surgeon and an elegantly reconstructed schnozz danced in my brain even as it was sustaining a very mild concussion (I had a headache all morning). I was even a little sorry that my nose hadn't broken: a French one would have been a unique memento from this city I love.

Since I spend most of my days wandering the streets alone, I haven't felt very self-conscious. Parisians have seen everything and have a higher tolerance for oddities than we do, I think. I notice that, over here, people examine each other rather neutrally all the time— usually not in any overtly critical way. After all, there is a wealth of style choices to check out here, such as we almost never see in the U.S. In America, we tend not to stare, unless it's to silently critique. We give each other a little more space.

When the sun comes out, which isn't often, I can hide the bruising behind my sunglasses. It's been cloudy and fairly warm every day, with intervals of rain and occasional brilliant sun and chilly breezes... weird Continental weather. More often it's too gray and dark to wear them. But no one comments and no one appears to look between my eyes.

Needless to say, this is the final voyage for my old, unwieldy suitcase. It's so unbalanced when its outer compartments are filled that it likely contributed to my accident. I struggled to drag it through the Metro stations and it kept fighting back, refusing to stay on its wheels and attempting to flip itself over. It's time to find a suitcase I can easily and safely manage, even if that means packing very, very little from now on.

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