Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Day I Cursed Paris

Yes, I cursed Paris. To be precise, I cursed my Paris self. Well, maybe I simply (and vehemently) cursed my idiotic self, which was trying to be a wee bit more Parisian than I actually am or ever could be. But yes, to be fair, in the heat of a moment, I cursed Paris on the corner of rue something-or-other and boulevard unknown.

This all happened on Monday when, despite knowing that July is the height of tourist season here and all other museums in Paris being closed on Mondays, the Louvre (my only known museum option) would likely be busy. Ha! Understatement! But, here I was, feeling that I had to be surrounded by art on Monday and the on-again-off-again rain was compelling me to seek cover indoors. So I was going to the Louvre. Now, I had been there before back in 2006 and had seen much of the Louvre, surprisingly in one day with Carra. I was content this trip to just see some of the Louvre and soak up that feeling of being surrounded by so much art and incredible architecture. And if the rain should give way for even an hour, I would enjoy a stroll through the Tuileries Gardens.

Knowing that my apartment isn't that far from the Louvre, I wore heeled sandals. I know, I know. I am a 31 (almost 32!) year old woman and here I am taking stupid leaps to appear more chic (p.s. it takes more than heels to achieve this) than I am or ever will be. I've learned the hard way before, haven't I? With aching soles and blistered heels? But no, vanity enables short term memory and off I went in my heeled sandals.

My feet were definitely sore in the Louvre but not ridiculously so. After spending three hours in the Louvre, I walked out to the Tuileries Gardens and sat back from the main fountain. I wrote a bit and read. Then the wind picked up and I felt like walking back to get some work done and maybe enjoy a café crème near my apartment. When I stood up, the pain unleashed itself. Not only had I reaggravated blisters from my heels (which I got on day two in Paris with shoes I thought were comfortable) but I now had blisters on the bottom of my feet as well! It was painful but I knew that if I could just get back to my apartment directly, I would be okay.

I headed back the way I had come to the Louvre but it started raining. Fortunately, I did have my small umbrella. But navigating tiny sidewalks with an umbrella in wind and rain is challenging enough without increasingly painful blisters everywhere on your feet. In the rain and pain, I walked too far down this one street. I turned to the right, assuming that was the direction my apartment was and some 30-45 minutes later, I found myself back along the Seine, but much farther west than I had started at the Louvre! I thought I was going to cry. I couldn't be that far from my apartment and finding the Metro and taking it seemed even more agonizing, having to descend all those stairs and wait.

So, I walked back towards my apartment again. I got much closer this time, but the wind was kicking up and all the fragmented streets had me confused yet again. With each step, I wondered what might happen if I just passed out in pain right here on the streets of Paris? An incredible degree of anger towards myself for wearing the ridiculous heels fueled my march through the streets of Paris.

I crossed what appeared to be a vaguely familiar street and suddenly the wind flipped my umbrella inside out, the wind kicked some dirt in my eye, and I stumbled on the cobblestone sidewalk. It was then and there that I uttered these words: "fucking Paris." And then, I giggled... ever so slightly. But it was a scary kind of giggle, as the raging pain would allow only such a giggle. When I turned the corner, I knew precisely where I was and in another 5 minutes I was back at my apartment, assessing the horrific damage I'd caused to my feet. The Pierre Hermé macarons I had waiting for me from the previous day helped ease my pain somewhat. Just enough to apologize to Paris and fully acknowledge my own stupidity. As I soaked my feet and released a deep sigh, I felt Balzac looking down upon me and nodding with a twisted smile, uttering, "welcome to Paris."


carra said...

I think all of us that ever bee to Paris and stayed there for more than a week had this "fucking Paris" moment, I certainly had a few... Don't worry you'll get over that, Paris does not get hurt that easily. Welcome to Paris.

Museum suggestions: Georges Pompidou center (and library), Pablo Picasso museum (my favourite) and there is something else. You must go to Georges Pompidou it's right above the Chatelet station and you will love the library just go there in the afternoon as mornings are extremely busy... You wont be disappointed. (you can recognise the building by all those bright coloured pipes, we were sitting near it that night after Louvre resting. Near Mona Lisait, you'll find it ;)

Randal Graves said...

There's always a price to be paid for flâneurie, no? (Does it count as flâneurie if one is going to a museum and NOT navigating the rues?) Of course, next time, drop the chic and wear comfortable shoes. ;-)

Richard said...

This is a lovely vignette that showcases your skills as a raconteur. The hardest thing I find about writing is keeping my own voice instead of using the posturing, professional voice of greatness (that, and actually wanting to commit a plot and storyline).

It is a common problem, as soon as we perceive we are being observed, or are performing for public consumption, we begin to pose, to stage, to posture; our natural self melts away and a rigid cardboard cut-out takes its place.

Je ne regrette rien said...

I've surrendered to my vanity on countless occasions in Paris. Sadly, each trip typically ends with me limping along in shoes purchased there ... shoes big and soft enough to accommodate my many bandages and/or open wounds. You'd think we'd learn!

Anonymous said...

Ah B - I feel your pain. Not to be graphic but the last time I was in Paris (and in the wrong shoes) I lost two toenails. It was that bad. Comfy feet make for a comfy trip! Hahaha!
(Run Around P.)