09/18 Paris, France

18 Sep 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

09/18 Paris, France


Sometimes when I take photographs I place more value on where I am standing than what I am looking at.  In Rouen I stood where Monet stood.  I preferred the light and shade of a subject, the dark spaces that define its character and capture the surroundings of the moment, revealing its alternations.  That evening’s twilight was a symphony colored in grey and rose that I watched as I waited for the sun to set.

After hanging around the church I boarded a local train towards Reims.  As hard as I tried I just couldn’t find a smile anywhere.  I felt as if I were trespassing or something so I took their hint.  I sat in the back and watched as many offered two cheeks as our train stopped at every crossing to pick up students.  I on the other hand kind of was raised with the reluctance of touch.  Sporting a cigarette was the sign of popularity here and maybe nine in every ten chose that path.  A little misinformation and a couple of wrong turns yet I ended up where I needed to be, in front of a glass of wine.  The desk clerk suggested a place to grab some food which turned out to be an excellent suggestion.  I considered myself lucky with all the excellent meals I had stumbled across.  I had some difficulty reading the menu and the waiter wasn’t even going to try to help.  Luckily a foreigner intervened and provided me some needed guidance.  A woman sitting across the way caught my eye and I kept sneaking peaks.  I don’t know why maybe it was my bruised body but I wasn’t about to make any type of move.  I was in a rehabilitation mode, injured.

The next morning I awoke early and watched the sun rise from the steps of the church and waited for the city to wake up around me.  I headed back to the hostel for breakfast and then proceeded to tour the champagne caves, the soul province of starry nights and sun flowers.  I started out exploring Jaittirgers and ended the day at Ronnery’s.  When I use the word exploring, I mean exploring.  Those champagne cellars extended miles like roots under the soil.  If I stumbled across somebody questioning I would explain I was searching for the restroom.  That worked every time.  There’s something to said for pledging ignorance.  It takes a man to do so and it sure helps in avoiding turbulence.  There was nothing much they could do but kick me out.  I purchased a few bottles on my way out and once I settled in on the train I opened one up.  I was sitting in a first class compartment by myself.  As I was removing the cork from the bottle of Champaign it jetted straight into the mirror across from where I was sitting breaking it into pieces.  Since champagne was now dripping down the compartment’s wall and the seat across from me was littered with glass, considering my history with conductors has not been good, I gathered up my things and distanced myself.  Every time someone passed by I hid my bottle.  When I finally reached Paris again I started out by followed up on a few invitations I had been holding onto, but quickly discovered that two young ladies were off at school and the third number I was given was incorrect.

I love France but that, “Why don’t you just go home and leave us alone” attitude had to go.  I threw away the need for directions and wandered through its streets.  Eventually I located the line that lead to locating an inexpensive room.  It almost wrapped around the block.  Since I was alone I began looking through the crowd for a possible roommate and struck up a conversation with a lovely young lady and her mother.  Through the course of that conversation I also met a gentleman from the States and found out that he only lived about a block and a half from where I had stayed in San Francisco.  The room they had given us was one hell of a trek across the city.  My new roommate had permanently damaged his leg from a motorcycle accident and his top speed was about the walking pace of elderly man.  Walking across Paris with one slow gear was not easy and very dangerous.  There are a of lot corners where the cars show up from out of nowhere and the streets are wide.  Our room turned out to have the makings of a nightmare.  It was dirty, dark and you could tell that rats had passed through on more than one occasion.  If by God’s hand we were to experience an earthquake someone would need to dig us out.  My luck didn’t stop there.  There was only one single bed.  So I took the floor and took my chances with the rats.

The two of us wandered through the parks and down along the river, eventually resting along side a beer.  My roommate decided to head back and catch up on some sleep.  I on the other hand hadn’t seen enough of the lights.  Following the flow, seeking out smiles, having a couple more drinks, a few conversations and before I knew it I was on the other side of the city with tired feet.  I decided to sacrifice all that and try the subway back.  I discovered that it too had a flavor of its own, music.  Miles Davis like tones echoed through the tunnels and I found myself follow groups of local youths traveling from one artist to another.  Many of those acts were pretty good and for just some spare change.  As long as I didn’t head up to the surface I could go from station to station and check out one act after another.  It was like I had joined an underground of characters.  Sometimes traveling with those types are just as interesting as the acts themselves.

Scepter and crown, come tumble down, now it rises from the underground. Can you hear the music?
Beauty in this world, she lies, hidden in its home, there once, then gone again, with the wind she roams
An echoing song, like the leaves dance with the wind, I’ve seen them, pass in silence, or stand and watch again
I have seen it, grow and die there, in these places where it’s free, a walk, along the subway, I can still hear it’s melody
It’s an easy way to get there, in and out again, yet me, like lots of others, who wander to its end
Beauty in this world, she lies, hidden in its home, there once, then gone again, with the wind she roams

I got in late and getting sleep was difficult at best.  Besides being on the floor, one argument after another echoed between the buildings.  It was like a bad comedy.  I couldn’t understand the language but I knew what those arguments were about.  I awoke to a teeming city, my head full of dreams and ready to commingle reality with my web of myths I have collected over time.  I chased the changes from the edges of the city and then worked my way back toward the center.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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