essays

Echoes

Eiffel towerIt is after midnight.

I am riding home in a taxi from a farewell dinner. "Brrr. Il fait froid," says the driver. "Moins 2."

We make pleasant chit-chat and I note with irony that just as I'm leaving Paris I'm beginning to recognize the Celsius temperature readings without a mad mental scramble to do the math.

The car slides silently along the quai, past the Statue of Liberty on Ile de la Cygne, past the high-rise apartments across the Seine in the 15th. "How can I ever replace this?" I wonder. Even the mundane modern buildings take on importance. Suddenly the Eiffel Tower surges into sight; its brilliant blue lighting is breathtaking. For a brief moment I consider asking the driver to stop so I can take a photo, but it's too cold, I'm too tired, and I would have no way to upload it when I get home, because there is nothing left in the apartment.

Well, nothing but seven suitcases and a bed.

CharadeEntering the apartment, I feel like Audrey Hepburn's character in Charade, opening the door of her Parisian apartment to find it stripped bare. Mine lacks the gilt and the Givenchy of the Hollywood scenario; but the emptiness of a tall-ceilinged Parisian apartment is dramatic. In addition to the echoing from the parquet to the moldings, there is the stark blackness: I have no more lamps.

In the kitchen, one of two rooms with recessed ceiling lights, I sit at my improvised desk -- the rejected ironing board lowered to 3-feet tall -- and sit on a tiny metal sidetable, also a tag-sale reject.

Is this any way to spend the last night at my home in Paris?

It's odd. In every other house I've lived in I've felt a deep sense of sadness leaving the actual dwelling. Although I adore this apartment, I'm not emotionally attached to it. The sense of place and home, and the angst at leaving, is more about this big engulfing city.

Polly is a Boston born Baby Boomer living on the Left Bank in Paris and blogging about it at Polly-Vous Francais. © 2006-2008, Polly-Vous Francais, all rights reserved.

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