This morning (or is it still night?), I awoke in Paris, in an apartment in the 5th, where we've come to visit friends, eat, and "get lost"—hard to do with Le Duc, who has known its corners for decades. In the cobalt half-dark, with no more sleep possible, the first caws of ravens blend with the buzz of a few mobilettes; I have a several hours' wait to buy a baguette.
I will not post regularly for the next few weeks; we're here so infrequently that I'd rather walk than write.
I'm in my late sixties now, so that walking is punctuated with more pauses in a park or café. Nor do I pack to go anywhere that requires dress-up: black, scarves for colour. Gone too are the days when Le Duc and I would march all day, then go out at 9 p.m. for a four-course dinner. Our endurance, our preferences and even our appetites have changed: The City of Light becomes the City of Lite.
I am still enthralled by the first glimpse of mansard rooflines and bridges spanning the Seine, a tease of shop windows' temptations, the pungent assault of diesel fuel. I'm happier than ever to be here, as our ability to travel with relatively carefree mobility is ever more precious.
In these first few hours I realize how life flows, wherever we are. All over the world, women buy groceries, walk the dog, hurry to work. Shortly, I'll slip out for a stroll in the Jardin du Luxembourg, trailing others around my age who are not, for whatever reason, synched to to the business day.
Soon, we have a rendezvous with friends; soon, Le Duc shall trace his old map of his rambles, choosing places he wants to see again and new additions. As the sun rises I shall be seduced by this city of deliberate magnificence, and I'll try to sidestep being just another tourist... yet I am.