After Errol’s sabbatical location was settled but before we knew our summer plans, Lauren and I decided I’d meet her in Paris on her birthday. The train ride from Freiburg is a little over three hours, and I left our flat in the early light to catch the 6.56 a.m. train. It left right on time.
She chose Luxembourg Gardens as our meeting spot, and the walk from Gare de Lyon was magnificent. I followed the river most of the way and stopped a bit to watch men fish and a painter stare at his easel. I started to think of the van Gogh brothers and their time in Paris. As I drew nearer to Notre Dame, I decided to pop into Shakespeare and Company to pick up a copy of Vincent and Theo. The bookstore was so crowded, I left within minutes. Sometimes my 308 self wins out. I don’t fight it much.
I have no phone service in Europe yet so our meet-up was very retro. We found each other by the fountain and strolled about before landing outside a playground to watch her two children and chat with her husband and parents over coffee.
Charlotte, Lauren’s nine year-old daughter, asked,
“Miss Anne, what are you going to do in Paris?”
“Follow your mom around for two days.”
I find knowing what you’re doing extremely attractive. When I worked at J.Crew, no one swooned over my ability to navigate a direct return, in-store exchange, and new purchase all in the same transaction. Fear not, I’d always give myself proper positive reinforcement: “Great job, Anne. You even remembered to change the sales tax from 8.1% in Phoenix to 7.8% in Scottsdale.”Competence is never lost on me. I appreciate it.
Lauren knows Paris from months living there in college, and her subsequent trips keep her skills up. I love how she gets me to where I need to be.
As much as I enjoy following people around, I had forgotten how my introverted nature creeps in during travel:
“You all go into Notre Dame. I’ll meet you out here at 4.”
“I should find some Wifi. How about we catch up after cake?"
I needed to be alone. I needed to wander around without a destination and stare at things as long as I wanted without any comment. This was my third visit to Paris, but I don’t know it all. Almost immediately, I had no idea where I was. While lost, I found a Red Cross thrift shop and a bought a new jacket for €5. These are the best souvenirs. It doesn’t say Paris on it, but I’ll remember the trip fondly each time I wear it.
Back with Lauren, she requested her birthday supper be take-away on the Seine. Oh, Lauren! Could I love you any more? We made a quick stop at Franprix for cheese, olives, salmon, and wine. It was perfect. We drank from hotel plastic cups and talked until we needed to walk some more.
We sipped watered-down gin and listened to stories at her old hang-out, The Long Hop. Through the Latin Quarter, we shared an ice cream and put in a few more kilometers to reach my hostel. Now it really felt like 2003.