Friday, June 06, 2008

Lazy days

I'm at the landromat around the corner from my apartment. I know, it's banal, and if you're Spesh you're worried about me because I'm writing about things like going to the super market or doing my laundry.

But what else do I have to write about? (I'm totally pissed, by the way, because this stupid place took my money and didn't run the machine. No one works here so I called the number and left a message in French. Yeah, I'm sure they understood me and that I made perfect sense. I did get two other machines to work, but it's a bit more than I planned to spend.)

Yesterday, I went to French class in the morning via metro. After it was over, I walked home and got started on my homework. I decided to go out for a restaurant lunch and went to a place my landlord (husband version) had recommended. I sat at a communal table and felt a little silly because I couldn't eavesdrop. I assured my tablemates that because I didn't speak French it was no problem. Or at least, I tried to say that.

I ordered a salad--which was the hugest salad I think I've ever seen. It was served in a stainless-steel mixing bowl! (I'd seen some others eating it, so I had an idea what I was getting myself into.) The salad contained lettuce, tomatoes, an egg (over easy), tons of cheese, ham (dried, not American style) and was tossed with some kind of mustard dressing. It was a bit challenging and overwhelming to eat--but very filling. I had coffee after.

My next stop was the movies, which I got to by metro. After the movie, I decided on a long walk home--something over two miles. I'm taking a lot of the same routes, so I try to mix it up with side streets and such, though this time, I'd picked a big main street for most of the walk because I wasn't in the mood to get lost and I didn't feel like referring to the map every few minutes. The walk was along the Rue Monge and I passed a Printemps that had a good amount of yarn--not all of which was acrylic. I didn't buy any and may not, but good to know it's there.

As I approach the place where Rue Monge turns into Rue Goeblins, which would put me about 10-15 minutes from home, I turned down a side street because I saw a fountain. Just one block off the main drag, I was in a small "place" surrounding the fountain which had an open air produce market on one side and two cafes on others…and a little park extending up another street. I could see this also made the connection with Rue Goeblins.

I looked around and couldn't imagine myself in a more charming spot. Both cafes were bustling and full of people at 6:30pm. Everyone was drinking, talking, smoking. A few people were eating hors d'oeuvres (or, as they say in France, "entrees").

I stood on the corner with the tiny park and looked at the scene. I was so grateful that I had nowhere to go, nowhere to be. That I wouldn't have to go to work in the morning and that I hadn't spent a day consumed with the tiny annoying and tedious tasks that comprised a day in DC. I walked back to one of the cafes and seated myself at an outdoor table. Within a minute a waiter arrived and I ordered a glass of wine. (A quirk is that I feel weird getting just wine, so I often order the most expensive glass--usually it's between a 3.50 euro and a 4.80 euro glass. Is that very American of me? I'm not going to eat and I'm only having one drink, so I spend a little more than is absolutely necessary.)

I am not the only person alone. A man sits by himself, writing. On my way out, I glance at his paper and it seems that he's writing equations! I almost say something but since I'm not actually a mathematician, I don't. What would I say? "Some of my best friends are math people" seems inappropriate and I don't know how to say it in French.

While I sat there, I was quite sure that I'd done the right thing by coming here. It's still life of course, with all the minutiae associated with having to wash clothes, eat meals and keep house. But I can do all those things at my leisure and still have to time to read, take long walks and write--when the mood strikes. I don't know if the pace of life here is slower or not--but the pace of my life is slower, and that's the point.

Now, something I'm not looking forward to is managing the long distance repair of the a/c in my condo back in DC. Sigh.

Ah, yes, you may want to know about that man I met. Amusingly, he found me on facebook and now we're facebook friends. Yeesh. (Consequently, I know his age--he is younger. Are you surprised?) Also, we exchanged a few emails and he asked for my number and said he'd be in Paris weekend after next for his brother's wedding and suggested getting together then. Of course, I'm free, but I wonder how busy he'll be. Though maybe weddings aren't as big a production here? Or maybe, since he lives nearby and they see each other all the time, it will be ok for him to break free to meet me?

Wednesday night, I went out for a beer, and when I got home I could see that someone had called the home phone. It flashes--but doesn't record messages (there's a way to set up the voice mail, but all the French involved is beyond my abilities). On a whim, I called the number back--and it was Greg. How nice! I was a little tipsy (even though I'd only had a "demi") and it was fun to talk to him. He explained that this weekend he's going to visit some friends in another town (thus he can't see me). He asked again about the following Friday and I jokingly said I was busy. That confused him, so I explained I was joking. I learned a bit more about his life (he's busy at a new job, studying English (good for me), has two brothers and sister, etc.). Sort of the complete opposite of me--with more than enough time on my hands to do anything I want, he's feeling the squeeze of trying to do some extra-curricular things and have a full-time job.

I'll admit to being slightly bummed that it will be another week before I' see him again. I trust my gut on this one: he's a good guy and I like him. No hesitation. Yet, after (and during?) our conversation, I wondered how it would work. He's busy and not easily accessible. Mustn't there be some lovely women in his town with whom he can actually speak French who would be much easier to pursue? Clearly, it could be anything at this point--friendship, a fling--but even a friendship would be hard to develop under these circumstances.

Then I stopped. I just stopped thinking about it. Did I wonder if he'd call me last night? Sure. (He didn't.) Do I hope to talk to him soon? Yes. But I can't do anything except be glad I'm here and stay open to whatever other social opportunities come my way. I'm sure they will come--and even if they don't, I'm still having a good time just being here and occupying myself in my own small way. It's working. So far, so good.

Grateful for: plenty of time.

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