I’m traveling, again, one of my greatest joys in life, that which keeps me inspired and optimistic and connected to the world outside of my own. Like many of us, my own world can grow conveniently small and safe. I don’t travel to be unsafe, but I travel to leap into my comfort zone which, oddly, I often feel is anywhere but New York.
I love New York. I have to. I live there and I don’t know that I’ll be leaving it any time soon, much as I would like to think I could. I could.
We are in Paris now, which has become an exotic, much cooler distant cousin to my real home. I’ve the luxury (through no effort of my own) of a consistent place to stay here and one in which I feel very good. I’ve convalesced here. I’ve spent time with family, with friends, with people new to Paris. Sitting in this lovely space, drinking a cup of coffee (that hopefully someone familiar with the metric system made), and reading and looking out at the Seine, this has become a version of Paris that I crave. Along, of course, with the sights and sounds and smells and the music and shops and restaurants and museums and the misjudged directions that lead you down a little street you’d never noticed and into an enclave of Parisian life that has nothing to do with the things your read in books or the things Americans warn you about Parisians (ignore that stuff, stat) – Paris is a beautiful creature with a dark sense of humor.
First we were in Lisbon, my lovely travel companion E and me. This trip was 16 years in the making. We met sixteen years ago this Sunday and our mid-20s friendship grew and we spoke of one day traveling together – now we are doing it. Lisbon: I wanted to visit a place, a country, I’d not yet seen, one where the three days we’d allotted before we had to be in Paris would yield the results of richness and experience that we crave in our adventures. We walked, we ate, we chatted with the locals, we saw some sights, but not too many, we put no pressure on ourselves. And it was perfect. We met Paolo at the wine bar who hails from Sao Paolo and said, “Don’t go to Brazil, it’s dangerous!” to which we replied, “Yes, we hear it can be-” and he said, “It’s dangerous because you’ll want to stay forever.
In Lisbon they took us for native French speakers, which was a fine way to practice before we got to Paris. We had a wine bar across the street and a restaurant right downstairs and around the corner was a venue the musicians we met called “The House of Fado” … Erika needed a night in after dinner and at the last minute I decided to go see what this Fado was all about … “This is the most independent thing I’ve ever done!” I said to Erika as I left, and she knew it was right up there. She checked in with me (What’s App) to make sure I was okay … and I was. I sat and listened to a couple of sets and Eduardo, the Portuguese guitar player (Portuguese guitar is his instrument) took an interest in me in a non-sleazy way – just happy to talk to someone new to the music and to explain it as he could … and it helped me to understand the concept of Fado and it was a really lovely night of music and a new temporary friend … I stayed for a few sets then went back to our apartment and the next day we trekked to the castle where my incessant fear of heights kept me on the ground consulting maps and taking photos of Erika on higher planes … we travel well together, and that’s an amazing thing to realize.
Because sometimes even the people you like most don’t make for the best travel companions; this is not the case.
Now we are in Paris – a sort of home for me though I know the city far less than I should . I’ve spend a lot of time here and it’s all been under very different and very special circumstances. Last time I was here with my darling and we did and saw things I never had before and of course we did and saw things I’ve done many times before, but through new eyes there is always so much to be gained.
Boom we walked by the most awful of awful restaurants on the ile – I will send you a photo.
Now we are in Paris and there’s so much more to say but what it comes down to is that, like any place that matters to you, be it Paris, Rome, Pula, Lisbon, Savannah, Charleston, wherever – magic is everywhere – the magic of realizing a place’s place in the world and in your own. So grateful to be here. So much chatter — I think I’ll go to sleep soon but oy vey I’m glad I’m here and you know what friends? I’d love to live elsewhere sometime. Keep giving me your ideas.