Where on earth did this week go? I realized on the train (#6, mint green) coming home from my friend Hallie’s apartment in the 12ème arrondissement that I haven’t blogged since Wednesday. Have I really done nothing worth blogging about since Wednesday? Possible. Very, very possible. I have some pictures from tonight, but it’s past my camera’s bedtime and it refuses to cooperate. So it’s just words in the wee small hours, I’m afraid.
My friend Hallie and I went to Northwestern together. I actually stayed at her apartment for a few days last summer (you should have seen us lugging my 50 pound suitcase up to the sixth floor–thank goodness for the repairman on the 3rd floor who just picked it up and carried it for us!), and I always enjoy spending time with her. She’s one of the few people I know who really talks as much as I do.
Tonight we had planned to go see Richard Strauss’ Salome at the Opéra Bastille. We needed to get there at 6 PM to wait for standing-room rush tickets (standing room at the opera seems like it could become problematic when it comes to very, very long operas, but Salome is only an hour and a half–what’s not to love?), so, true to form, I arrived at 5:30. But I hadn’t had dinner yet, so I went in search of a sandwich. And I have to remark that the Bastille area is one of the only places I have encountered in Paris where there are not several boulangeries on every block. I found one in three or four blocks, and they didn’t have sandwiches. I ask you. Anyway, there was a place advertising itself as “Traiteur Grec”–which doesn’t mean traitor, even though it’s tempting to go that route. Inside was a tempting array of Greek and Middle Eastern delicacies à emporter (takeout!). I bought a block of spanakopita (mmmm, feta cheese, spinach, onions and spices in phyllo dough) for my dinner. Delicious, as it turned out, though it might have been better a little warmer.
Anyway, then I found Hallie on line for the rush tickets, where we discovered that a change had been made in the policy: only thirty places were available, down from last year’s sixty. Which meant that once we got inside, we were told that there weren’t enough places for everybody. So Hallie, her Canadian friend (now my friend too!) Alexandra and I got on the bus to the 12ème, where we had drinks and great chat at an adorable little bar called Duni’s Café. We went back to Hallie’s apartment, which is completely adorable and so very French, where she made herself and Alexandra some pasta for dinner. I was still full from spanakopita, though I did share in the enormous bar of chocolate that Alexandra had brought. And the three of us talked for simply hours, about everything–we geeked out over books and television shows (Alexandra is a fan of Downton Abbey too!), we discussed Paris, Canada, the United States, we gossiped a little, we talked about music and musicians. Hallie and I discussed plans to have a weekly dinner get-together, where a different person cooks every week. It was, in short, a marvelous evening.
I didn’t really realize until tonight just how solitary I’ve been the last few weeks. Oh, I’ve spent a little time socializing with my neighbors in the Fondation, but most of the interaction I’ve had with people has been with salespeople, bank tellers, choral directors and secretaries, and a lot of it has been utter French failure for me. Which is a little rough. I know I ought to be speaking lots of French–and I anticipate doing so more when I get more involved with choirs and school, hopefully–but it was such a relief to chatter all night in English to people with lots to say. That is not good company, as they say–that is the best.
We had gotten caught in the rain on the way to Hallie’s place, and it had continued to rain for an hour at least, so when Alexandra and I finally left at midnight, there was a distinct chill in the air. It really felt like fall. And as I walked from Porte d’Orléans (line #4, magenta) to the Fondation des États-Unis, I suddenly felt a little thrill, to be walking the streets of Paris after midnight, back to the place where I live. This is MY neighborhood, MY grocery store, MY train stop, even MY hookah bar on the corner which would probably feel sketchy in the States, but of which I’m growing a little fond (are they allowed to smoke hookah outside in Chicago? I can’t imagine that’s the case, but who knows?). To quote Mother’s Younger Brother: “Life was suddenly wonderful and full of delicious possibilities!”