Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Evening Melancholy and the Company of Books

Today's painting: dusk from the heights of Montmartre.

At the end of a clear day, the sky fills with these subtle beautiful warm colors, but this sight is always a bit of a sad one for me, signifying the end of yet another day in Paris. The excitement of the day with all its museums, art, commotion, sights, sounds, and jam-packed schedule comes to a screeching halt. Shops close, people begin rushing through the streets with their groceries in tow, hurrying home to the people they love.

A word about living alone in Paris: it is incredible, but it is also hard. I have no actual friends in Paris yet, as most of the people I have met so far have been passing through, and most of my activities have been solitary (painting, museums, exploring, etc.). It is not advisable for a young woman to be wandering around alone at night, but thankfully the neighborhood in which I live is pretty safe and has lots of young people and students hanging out, smoking and debating in cafes until the wee hours.

I have a ritual now when I return home in the evenings: turn on some music to break the silence in my empty apartment, get started on a glass of red wine (I'm having fun trying different varieties) and start making dinner. I am in better shape than ever; I walk several miles every day in my jaunts around the city, and my apartment is on the 4th floor. And yes I take the stairs. Every time. There is an elevator and I am not afraid of elevators, but this one is an upright coffin. Seriously - would you step inside this thing and let the door close?

After my first week here, my body felt like a 90 year-old woman; sore and stiff and with bruised feet. Now I am fully adjusted to this acute active new lifestyle, and I am also starting to feel very at home now in my little apartment. My dear friend Amy arrives on Friday for a 2-week visit. So excited!
I made a thrilling discovery my first week here: the legendary bookstore "Shakespeare and Company" is literally 2 blocks from my apartment.

Steeped in history, this cluttered little treasure chest of antiquarian & contemporary books has been a meeting place for the likes of Earnest Hemingway and James Joyce. The Nazis closed it when they occupied Paris in 1941, and it reopened 10 years later in 1951, attracting scores of post-war Beat Generation poets. There is an incredible variety of books here - my heart is pounding just thinking about it.

I could spend days on end here, in fact I think I might. If you spent enough time browsing here, you could get the equivalent of a liberal arts college education. For the time being I have no phone service, Internet, or television here at my apartment - which is pretty isolating but it has forced me to reflect, read, write, and be quiet enough to confront myself in ways that I couldn't otherwise.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Paris, France

1 comment:

  1. Most likely it is already part of your itinerary, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on Pere Lachaise. I thought I'd spend a little time there before my flight. If only I'd known the immensity and beauty (outside of the touristy stuff), I would have reserved an entire day. There are some funerary monuments that brought me to my knees. If it's your 'cup of tea' that is... Rachel M.