Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paris September 2010

Thirty-eight days. Actually, it's only 36 until I leave, insha'allah. I have to wait until payday on Friday to get my ticket. I saw Dulles-CDG for $579 yesterday, and I am praying that one of those fares is still available on Friday. The rest were outrageous, but I'm going to Paris no matter what, even if I have to survive on the sugar packets I can get in the office coffee room.

It's been ten years since I've set foot in the City of Lights, ten long years in which I have seen the city as a tiny Lego town from an airplane window more times than I can count. This time, the plane is landing, and I am taking the bus into the city. These last ten years have been peppered with moments in time when my desire for Paris has been overwhelming. I can remember the time I vowed I would go to Europe at least once a year for the rest of my life. That was in 1999, the third year in a row I was in Europe. I made it one year after that until I broke down and went to Eastern Europe in 2007. But it wasn't Paris.

It was, well, I don't even know when it was that U2 announced they would be performing in 2010 - sometime in late autumn, or maybe December. I can say with a straight face that those two shows in NYC in September 2009 were two of the greatest nights of my life. It was a natural high, and totally worth getting sick after because I went without food or drink and stood up for basically two days straight, even though I was sick for the DC show a few days later (but that didn't matter so much because the suburban zombies who pass for music fans in DC made the show suck a little.) When the band announced a few more dates in 2010 and they gave us subscriber folks (that's what they call a fanclub these days) a chance to get tix, well, something came over me, and I did. And what city would I choose but the subject of my urban lust for a decade.

Of course, at the time, there was no North American announcement and I thought now here's the chance to get to see them two years in a row after thirteen years of having to wait four or five years between shows. But logically I knew they'd come back to North America, in one of those many, many layers we sort of generically label as the human brain.

So, ten years. I left Paris in February 2000 after spending a week in France - Dijon and some tiny town in Bourgogne I can't remember the name of but it was the best France experience I ever had because, well, it wasn't Paris, and the French get a bad rap because Americans, the few who actually go to France, usually only go to Paris, and, well, Paris is a city, and in cities, people are less friendly to tourists because tourists are SO FREAKING ANNOYING. Believe me, I know. I have lived in DC for most of the last seven years, and my tiny town of 600,000 swells to 1,600,000 on any given summer day. Although I gotta give props to the parents who bring their kids to DC instead of Disneyland. You're doing something right.

Paris is definitely a city of the past. I once wrote something somewhere about how it seemed like Paris was the past, London was the present, and Berlin was the future. (I was 22. Give me a break.) I don't mean Paris is a city of the past in a bad way, and I know Parisians hate when people say this, but Paris is a giant outdoor museum to European history. Frankly, I think they should be proud of this. (And come on, Americans - without the French, there would be no America. They helped us beat the limey asses across the channel to get our independence. One of my favorite quotes of all time is Patton's quote on D-Day: "Lafayette, nous sommes arrive." It was a thank you. I'd much rather have a "special relationship" with France than with those folks up north.) But Europe is "Europe" now, and should always remain so, because they figured out a way to stop fighting (and if I prayed, I'd pray the EU sticks together, but they really shouldn't have expanded so quickly, and they shouldn't make those retarded laws they are prone to do, like German barmaids can't wear sleeveless shirts because they might get sunburn.)

I love Paris for its past, especially for its literary past. Not only did they have great thinkers and writers roaming those cobblestone streets, but the best in all the world roamed there. My personal favorite, James Joyce, did most of his writing there in the same places as some of my other favorites, like Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald. It's a place where thought once roamed, like New York.

But it's been ten years. I'm afraid. Please don't have a Charmucks on every corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment