I was at my one client today and he was telling me about his granddaughter. She graduated from college in May and was accepted at a law school in CT. She surprised the family by stating she was taking a year off and going back to Ireland and finding a job(she had been in Ireland for a semester abroad). Apparently Ireland has a stipulation that if you are a recent college graduate, no matter where you are from, you can come over there for a year and get a work permit.
She got permission from the college to start a year later with her scholarships and grants intact and went over in August with a cousin. This past weekend they were able to get a really cheap flight to Paris and her grandfather said he’d seen her Paris pictures on Facebook. Now her mother wants to go over and visit her in Ireland and go to Paris too.
I remember Paris. It was the summer I turned 13. My parents and I flew over that summer to go back to Denmark…we hadn’t been over since I was 4 because it had taken that long for my parents to save enough for us to go. Since that time, both of my grandmothers had passed away and I know my parents were really dreading not seeing their mothers being there.
My brother at that point was married and now had two small children so they were home at the bakery and taking care of the house and the pets.
I realized just while I was writing this that my mother had turned 50 that year and had always wanted to visit Paris.
We flew from New York to Paris and from there we rented a car and drove to Switzerland, The Netherlands and Germany before heading towards Denmark…staying there a while with family before making our way back home. My parents were always so exhausted the first few days of vacation and I understand now why they didn’t want to go to Denmark first and deal with the family and the memories.
My mother and I loved each other but that summer the 50 year old and the 13 year old definitely clashed. My dad would just walk ahead or behind us a little and nonchalantly puff on his pipe. Our family was always the type that we’d have our little flare ups and stay out of each other’s way for a while…and when we’d be together again later, all was forgotten. No grudges. My daughter and I are the same way.
Anyway, in Paris we stayed at a really old hotel pension with adjoining rooms. The small room I was in had to have had a bed that Napoleon had slept in…the mattress had to have been from the 1800s…extremely lumpy and too big for the bed…the mattress hung over the front of the bed. The toilet was out in the hallway…you had to go up two steps to get to the room, the light was a single bulb with a pull cord. The showers were down the hallway.
Breakfast every morning was downstairs and frankly, that was the best part of the pension…
We had taken the bus tour which showed you where all the sights were and had spent a whole day at the Louvre.
What I REALLY remember about Paris:
1. It was the year of madras plaid. The 3 of us all had outfits with madras plaid and you could spot us as Americans a mile away.
2. We had been walking…don’t remember if to one of the sights or in a park, but I remember a French woman hitting my dad on the head with an umbrella because he was an American. When he talked in Danish, she looked all confused and ran away.
3. We went to a restaurant with an outdoor café and a flower seller came by with an arm basket filled with beautiful violets. One of my mother’s favorites…her wedding bouquet had been violets and lily of the valley. I remember Dad buying her a bouquet and how happy she was all evening. She pressed those violets and kept them for years.
4. I remember the shops…particularly the parasols. There was one shop that had the most beautiful parasol I had ever seen…a rose pink edged with wide lace and floral roses. I remember thinking that if I bought that I would have no money left. And interestingly enough, after all these years, I can still feel how much I wanted it and how gorgeous it was.
5. The Perfume shops…one thing my mother really wanted was one bottle of “real” French perfume and Lily of the Valley was her signature scent.
6. And what is it I REALLY remember about Paris? We were walking, we were tired, we were crabby…ok, maybe it was only me that was crabby and I remember my mother and I were having an argument of some kind. All of the sudden, she stops in the middle of a Paris sidewalk and screams, “THAT’S IT!!!! Next year you are going to camp!!!!” At that, I burst into tears, Dad stopped puffing on his pipe, Mom got all flushed and burst into tears as well. After that outburst, there were no more on that trip and I didn’t end up going to camp the next year after all..whew!
Ah yes, I remember Paris…and you know, if I had a chance, I’d like to go again…maybe I should look into some French lessons online…”just in case”.
til next time…Eva