Thursday, October 29, 2015

être dans son assiette

The weekend before last, I went home to New York. It was my first "just because" visit, a getaway simply planned in order to fully enjoy family, friends, and fall. And it was delightful, truly. For the first time in a long time, I appreciated everything about my hometown. I also got along with my parents better than ever have, which I can only account to a culmination of maturity and therapy. Le sigh.
And this is all relevant because visiting Paris was not dissimilar. I saw the city with new eyes and found myself deeply moved by the company of those who'd supported, mentored, and cared for me there. In one of the rare afternoons I spent alone, I retraced familiar steps with a heightened consciousness, attempting to experience my new self in the "same old". Talk about romanticizing saudade...
During those hours à moi même, I luxuriated in the specialness that is intimately knowing a place so superficially celebrated; easily recognized, but less often known. What a privilege and a mindf*** to feel at home in New York, Paris, Los Angeles.
But back to Paris for now. That evening, after the MAM, I reconvened with Lorelei and Rachael at a new-to-us cave à vins in the 12th arrondissement. We replayed our hours (and months) apart with the pleasure that is wine, beer... and a cheese plate. Quelle horreur ! Because, how defiantly American of us to have cheese as an appetizer. I'll admit it was my idea,  and it was perfect.
Three hours later, I sat at table with four desserts and an empty bottle of red wine. Mes parents françaises had come into Paris to dine with me--bringing my gratitude to a dangerous high. Patrick leaned over to ask how I was really doing in L.A. "I'm good, better," I responded, nearly brought to tears by his unwavering kindness. After everything since I'd last seen him, I was liberated by that truth.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

bonne journée

The last time I spent a day in Paris with absolutely nothing to do but enjoy, it was 2008. Seven years later I found myself with the same great fortune, with knowledge of the city's geography and the company of best friends. 'Twas so much more than "a good day".
{A croissant from Du Pain et Des Idées & coffee from Ten Belles on the Canal}
{"Elle s'appelait Jackie" and a brasserie lunch}
{Meandering through the old neighborhood}
{Happy hour at Cafe de l'Industrie}
{Dinner at Au Passage with Rachael & Lorelei}
{Red House nightcaps}
As you may have gathered from the lack of text above, there are few words to describe this day. It was coming home to people who love you for you and receiving a hug from the strange, beautiful place you've been forever molded by and that sigh. We ate and drank well, but it was the ease with which we wandered that I savored most. (Insert all the warm, fuzzy feelings and exuberant inspiration here). And so, I cried that night in Paris' warm embrace; one of those tipsy "let it all out" kind of cries, because life is more than pretty pictures with the most perfect light (that Paname has so gracefully mastered). Man, oh man... how I'd missed that light.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

then paris, of course

The ride from Amsterdam to Paris was a long one; exceptionally unpleasant, too. The train's air conditioner stopped working halfway through; the conductor stopped the train in an attempt to restore it; he was unsuccessful, four times over; our arrival time was delayed by one hour and countless beads of sweat; fin. I hadn't thought I could be any more eager to be in Paris again. I was.
Then, once we'd settled into our 10e airbnb and freshened up, the euphoria set in. Rachael, Lorelei, and I were reunited in/with Paris.
After much deliberation, we decided to start with an apéritif at Rosa Bonheur sur Seine. For the record, I hadn't known this place existed--it was one of many bars/restaurants that had come to be after my move back to the United States. Also worth mentioning: my first visit to the original Rosa Bonheur marked my first night out as a Paris resident. Our chosen happy hour spot was, thus, perfectly "full circle". And as we discussed how wonderfully ordinary it felt to be in the City of Lights again, over a casual spread of charcuterie, cheese, and rosé, Rachael and I felt a push. A man sitting on our bench but with the group at the table behind us was making room for himself with complete disregard for our presence and entitlement. We laughed. Yes, sir, we were back.
Being there, for me, was like one deep and restorative sigh. There was an innate sense of comfort and belonging; an "of course I'm here in this city with these two". That first night, we went from Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, to Mary Celeste, to Glass, to Le Grand Pigalle. We reveled in the relief of the familiar. We clinked glasses to Paris, and to us.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

cycling along the canals

I had one full day in Amsterdam, and very little planned. Marie (being Marie) had more musts in mind; first and foremost: rent bicycles.
Bonne idée ! And yet, first and foremost we breakfast-ed. We set out for coffee bru--which happened to be closed for construction, but (lucky for us) had set a little mobile stand outside serving caffeine and sugar coffee, tea, and cakes. Then we rented bikes.
We (read: I) haphazardly rode east until coming across a neighborhood market that constituted a quick stop. You should've seen how I struggled with my bike lock. Many onlookers did. But, it was worth it for the chance to mingle with locals and drop into cute shops like this one. From then on, I got "it." What a lovely Dutch way to soak up the scenic city streets and canals! It was also a convenient way to get to the Van Gogh Museum, where we had planned to meet Jorgie and Lorelei.
Marie and Charlotte chose to spend their afternoon in the museums. Jorgie, Lorelei, and I decided otherwise; it was just too gosh darn beautiful out. We enjoyed a food cart-lunch before Vondelpark, where my brother's soon-to-be classmates would picnic. After hellos, Lorelei and I continued on to an outdoor exhibition. It was perfect--the sun, the art, and quality time with my dear friend.
As the sun fell, Lorelei and I shared a quick glass of rosé with my brother and the other fresh new master's students. We felt a happy-nostalgia in their company. We also came up with a plan for the night: rent another bike, freshen up at my airbnb, and finally, meet Jorgie at Campo de' Fiori for a nice, care-free "ciao for now" dinner. After all that walking and cycling, we were ready to feast.
And feast we did! We laughed, and drank too much wine, and filled ourselves to the brim with bruschetta, and pasta, and tiramisu. Special because it'd been shared with Jorgie and Lorelei, the meal made for the most wonderful 3-hour parting with Amsterdam.
My brave brother and I exchanged a short but sweet goodbye. Lorelei and I went for one last Dutch beer at a nondescript pub. Before long, she left to catch a train to The Hague while I waited for Charlotte and Marie to meet me. The three of us rode back in the rain, eventually. I hadn't had any hopes or expectations for that one full day, but holy crap, how my cup runneth over.